Over the last few weeks and in reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. has implemented numerous policies that have disrupted inbound U.S. travel and immigration-related government functions. The current environment is volatile, which has until now made it difficult to track all changes. This alert provides a summary of the travel restrictions and immigration-related changes that have been implemented to date.
In response to significant worldwide challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of State has temporarily suspended routine visa routine immigrant and nonimmigrant visa services at all U.S. Embassies and Consulates as of March 20, 2020. As resources allow, embassies and consulates will continue to provide emergency and mission critical visa services. The Department of State states that it will resume visa services as soon as possible but are unable to provide a specific date at this time.
Implementation of Travel Bans
- On January 31 President Trump signed a proclamation barring entry to the United States of most foreign nationals who traveled to China within the past 14 days.
- On February 29, President Trump signed a proclamation that expanded restrictions to include all aliens who were physically present within the Islamic Republic of Iran during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States.
- On March 11, President Trump signed a proclamation that restricts travel to the United States from foreign nationals who have recently been in certain European countries. This does not apply to U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents.
- On March 14, President Trump signed a proclamation that restricts travel to the United States from foreign nationals who have recently been in the United Kingdom and Ireland. This does not apply to U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents.
- A reassessment of all COVID-19 related travel bans will likely occur on April 11, 2020.
ESTA Cancellation for Individuals Who Attempt to Circumvent Travel Bans
Travelers with a valid ESTA who are subject to the travel bans and who attempt to travel to the U.S. in violation of the travel ban will have their ESTA canceled. These revocations are reportedly without prejudice, meaning that those travelers will be able to apply for ESTA in the future.
All Inbound U.S. Air Traffic to be Redirected to 13 Airports
Individuals who are exempted from the travel bans and who are traveling to the U.S. will be redirected to one of the thirteen designated U.S. airports where the U.S. government is focusing public health resources. These airports include JRK, ORD, SFO, SEA, HNL, LAX, ATL, IAD, EWR, DFW, DTW, BOS, and MIA.
USCIS Office and Immigration Court Closures
As of March 18, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has suspended routine in-person services until at least April 1 to help slow the spread of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). USCIS staff will continue to perform duties that do not involve contact with the public. However, USCIS will provide emergency services for limited situations.
USCIS domestic field offices will send notices with instructions to applicants and petitioners with scheduled interview appointments or naturalization ceremonies impacted by this closure. They will automatically be rescheduled once normal operations resume. Individuals who had InfoPass appointments with a Field Office must reschedule through the USCIS Contact Center.
Please check the USCIS Field Offices page to see if your field office has reopened before reaching out to the USCIS Contact Center.
Similarly, immigration judges across the U.S. are limiting access to their courts. While the courts have yet to close en masse, the National Association of Immigration Judges (NAIJ), the American Federation of Government Employees Local 511 (the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Professionals Union), and the American Immigration Lawyers Association recently called upon the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to close the courts indefinitely. The DOJ has yet to respond to this call, though it is expected that many courts will be rescheduling hearings.
A Message from Christian Tyler Properties
We advise all our investors and partners who plan to travel overseas within the next three months to monitor any health-related travel restrictions for your destination(s), and for travelers from your destination back to the United States. As coronavirus travel restrictions in different countries have been changing with little-to-no notice, you should regularly check whether there are any travel restrictions on your destination and your return to the United States that may apply to you before you depart.
Our office will continue to post updates regarding travel bans and immigration related matters as the situation continues to progress. As always, we remain here to serve you. If you have any questions or concerns, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.