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 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

On Aug. 23, 2019, our firm wrote about the U.S. Department of State’s (DOS) announcement that the validity period of E-1 and E-2 visas for French Nationals would be reduced from 60 months to 15 months effective Aug 29, 2019. The effective date has now been postponed to Sept. 26, 2019.

The general rule is that different types of U.S. visas have different visa validity periods depending on the nationality of the visa applicant because the Immigration and Nationality Act requires the DOS to set country-specific visa policies on a reciprocal basis. The validity periods are based on each country’s treatment of similar classes of U.S. visitors to its territory. In other words, if a country imposes restrictive visa requirements on U.S. citizens, the U.S. reciprocates with more restrictive requirements on that country’s citizens.
Continue Reading Update: U.S. to Reduce E-Visa Validity for French Nationals Effective Sept. 26, 2019

With only a 9-day notice, the U.S. Department of State (DOS) announced critical restrictions on French Nationals for E visas on August 20, 2019.   The general rule is that different types of U.S. visas have different visa validity periods depending on the nationality of the visa applicant because the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) requires the DOS to set country-specific visa policies on a reciprocal basis.   The validity periods are based on each country’s treatment of similar classes of U.S. visitors to its territory, as well as national security, immigration, and other considerations.   In other words, if a country imposes restrictive visa requirements on U.S. citizens, the U.S. reciprocates with more restrictive requirements on that country’s citizens.
Continue Reading U.S. to Reduce E Visa Validity for French Nationals

The Venezuelan opposition-controlled National Assembly recently acknowledged the significant obstacles for Venezuelans in extending or obtaining new passports, and issued a decree extending the validity of already issued Venezuelan passports
Continue Reading United States Recognizes Venezuelan National Assembly Decree Extending Validity of Venezuelan Passports

The Department of State (DOS) has noticed for public comment an Information Collection Review – Electronic Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration  that would require immigrants coming to the United States to submit five years of social media history. This effort is viewed by many as a component of “enhanced vetting” on behalf of the Administration following domestic terrorist activities.

Continue Reading DOS Proposes Rule Requiring Review of Social Media for U.S. Immigrant and Non-Immigrant Visa Applicants