The Continuing Impact of Covid-19 on U.S. Immigration

By:  Alexander Carl, Esq.
Partner – Bolour/Carl Immigration Group, APC

The Covid-19 virus has directly impacted visa processing.  To date, most U.S. Consulates, if not all, have temporarily stopped in person visa interviews.   An in-person interview is a requirement which must be completed before a visa is issued.  The closures of U.S. Consulates has therefore delayed the issuance of many visas for foreign nationals who were in queue to be scheduled for an interview, are waiting to be scheduled or maybe were scheduled but then were canceled on account of the closure. This delay will remain until the Consulates resume for in person interviews or changes are made to that process.  We continue to keep close track of U.S. Consulate closures and notify clients when changes are made.

The closure of Consulates is impacting all foreign nationals who have filed their visa petition and are waiting to be scheduled for their visa interview – there will be no interviews until they reopen and therefore no issuance of visas until the closure ends.  The President’s Proclamation, however, will impact only  immigrant visa applicant’s who do not fall under one of the many exceptions to the Proclamation. How all of this will impact employers, time will tell. In the meantime, employers should be aware that prospective employees seeking nonimmigrant work visas are not impacted by the Proclamation. Employers should also keep an eye on the status of U.S. Consulate closures so they can better plan as to when to expect their foreign employees, who are applying for their nonimmigrant work visas, to be able to enter the U.S. with that visa.

The Covid-19 virus will have an impact on immigration moving forward, that is without a question. How exactly it will, again, time will tell.  What we have seen is businesses  change the way they conduct work due to the SIP orders and likely social distancing guidelines moving forward beyond the SIP orders. This could trickle down to changes being made in the procedures involved in applying for visas abroad and immigration benefits here in the U.S. – namely in person interviews and the like. The temporary closure of borders and Consulates, as we are seeing now, and further suspension of select immigrants on account of the President’s Proclamation, may highlight  how vital a role both immigrants and nonimmigrants play in our economy – directly and indirectly. This can lead to improvements in certain visa processing as well as easing certain restrictions of specific work visas, such as the H2A visa and H2B visa, which we have seen some of recently. This trend may continue as our economy takes the steps to regain losses suffered and the demand for workers grows.

Please contact us if you have any immigration-related questions and/or if you’d like to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys.   http://americanvisas.net 323-857-0034.