Travel to the U.S. – Suspensions and Restrictions (Updated March 15, 2020)

The White House has published three Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)-related proclamations relating to travel to the United States:

  1. Jan. 31, 2020: Proclamation 9984, Proclamation on Suspension of Entry as Immigrants and Nonimmigrants of Persons who Pose a Risk of Transmitting 2019 Novel Coronavirus. The proclamation cites Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) 212(f) to suspend entry into the United States of all aliens (immigrants, nonimmigrants, and other non-U.S. citizens) who were physically present within the People’s Republic of China, excluding the Special Autonomous Regions of Hong Kong and Macau, during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States. This coronavirus travel ban is effective as of 5:00 p.m. EST on Feb. 2, 2020.
  2. Feb. 29, 2020: Presidential Proclamation, Proclamation on the Suspension of Entry as Immigrants and Nonimmigrants of Certain Additional Persons Who Pose a Risk of Transmitting Coronavirus. The proclamation cites INA 212(f) to suspend entry into the United States of all aliens (immigrants, nonimmigrants, and other non-U.S. citizens) 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. This coronavirus travel ban is effective as of 5:00 p.m. EST on March 2, 2020. This proclamation does not apply to persons aboard a flight scheduled to arrive in the United States that departed prior to 5:00 p.m. EST on March 2, 2020.
  3. March 11, 2020: Presidential Proclamation on Suspension of Entry as Immigrants and Nonimmigrant of Certain Additional Person who Pose a Risk of Transmitted 2019 Novel Coronavirus. The proclamation cites INA 212(f) to suspend entry into the United States of all aliens (immigrants, nonimmigrants, and other non-U.S. citizens) who were physically present within the European Schengen Area (not including the United Kingdom) during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States. This coronavirus travel ban is effective as of 11:59 p.m. EDT on March 13, 2020; also see Homeland Security Acting Secretary Chad F. Wolf’s Statement on Presidential Proclamation To Protect the Homeland from Travel-Related Coronavirus Spread.
  4. March 14, 2020: Presidential Proclamation Amended to include immigrants and nonimmigrants from the United Kingdom and Ireland. Effective Monday, March 16, 2020, 11:59 p.m. EST, the U.S. will extend the same travel restrictions to the U.K. and Ireland as are already in effect for other European countries, China and Iran.  View recent blog here.


Continue Reading U.S. Immigration and Coronavirus Disease 2019 – Facts, Thoughts, Questions and Answers

On March 11, 2020, President Trump signed a Presidential Proclamation, effective at 11:59 p.m. EST on March 13, 2020, which prohibits the entry of most foreign nationals who traveled
Continue Reading U.S. Suspends Entry of Foreign Nationals for 30 Days Effective March 13, 2020, U.S. Travelers Required to Enter Through Designated Ports of Entry

Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, one of the most widely filed USCIS forms, is filed by a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident petitioning for an immediate or close relative intending to immigrate to the United States. Until now, petitioners had the option of filing Form I-130 with the USCIS, directly with the USCIS international field offices abroad, or a U.S. consulate or embassy abroad, if they could prove an exceptional circumstance.

Without any notice, USCIS announced on Jan. 31, 2020, that starting on Feb. 1, it will no longer accept and adjudicate Form I-130 petitions at its international field offices except the USCIS field offices in Accra, Ghana, and London, England. These two offices will continue to accept and adjudicate Forms I-130 petitions until April 1, 2020. Going forward, I-130 petitions will only be processed domestically by USCIS or internationally by the Department of State in certain circumstances.
Continue Reading Effective Feb. 1, Form I-130 Petitions Only Processed Domestically by USCIS or Internationally by DOS

On Jan. 29, 2020, USCIS announced that it would be making a significant change to the processing of I-526 Petitions, commonly referred to as EB-5 Petitions. USCIS previously had a policy to adjudicate EB-5 Petitions on a “first-in, first-out” basis. This meant that USCIS was to review and decide EB-5 Petitions based solely on the date the petition was filed with USCIS. Today, USCIS announced that it would change this policy and decide EB-5 Petitions using the “visa availability” approach.

What is the “Visa Availability” approach?

The “visa availability” approach outlined by USCIS would prioritize EB-5 Petitions for adjudication based on whether a visa number is available to the investor. This ties the timing of the decision on the EB-5 petition to whether the investor is subject to visa retrogression based on their country of birth. As a reminder, the employment-based fifth preference category “EB-5” is allotted approximately 10,000 immigrant visas annually. This quota includes principal applicants, as well as spouses and dependent children under 21 years of age. No one country can exceed more than seven percent of the total EB-5 visas available in each fiscal year.


Continue Reading USCIS Announces Significant Change to EB-5 Adjudications Processing

As of Jan. 23, 2020, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will no longer accept requests for changes to E-1 or E-2 status or extensions of E-1 or E-2 status from Iranian nationals and their dependents (see USCIS notice concerning termination of eligibility). This change applies to Iranian nationals who are already in the United States and are seeking an extension of their E-1/E-2 status or were planning to submit a change of status to E-1/E-2. Affected applicants who currently have pending applications will be issued Notices of Intent to Deny by USCIS. This policy change does not affect Iranians who are in the United States currently holding E-1 or E-2 status as they may remain in the United States until their current status expires.
Continue Reading Iranian Nationals No Longer Eligible for Changes to E-1 and E-2 Status or Extensions of E-1 and E-2 Status

Former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has been appointed acting director of USCIS, replacing Acting Director Koumans. Director Koumans replaced Director Cissna on June 3 as acting director. 

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Continue Reading New Leadership at USCIS; Former VA AG Ken Cuccinelli Named Acting Director