USCIS is readying offices to reopen on OR after June 4. Employees in these offices are continuing to perform mission-essential services that do not require face-to-face contact with the public while the offices are closed.
While offices are temporarily closed, USCIS will continue to provide limited emergency in-person services. Please call the USCIS Contact Center for assistance with emergency services.
USCIS field offices will send notices to applicants and petitioners with scheduled appointments and naturalization ceremonies impacted by the extended temporary closure.
When USCIS again resumes operations for in-person services, USCIS will automatically reschedule ASC appointments due to the temporary office closure. Individuals will receive a new appointment letter in the mail. Those who had InfoPass or other appointments must reschedule through the USCIS Contact Center once field offices are open to the public again.
Our firm strongly suspects that different offices around the country will open and close on a continual basis for the foreseeable future. Up to date office specific openings and closures can be found HERE.
The President signed a new proclamation banning the entry of a number of new classes of individuals citing the impact immigrants have on the labor market during a period of high unemployment and the need to preserve State Department resources so consular officers can service US citizens abroad. He also alleges that immigrants strain our health care system.
The order is in effect for 60 days and he cites Sections 212(f) as the main authority. He also cites other sections of the US Code that don’t really impact the scope of this order and because 212(f) is the main authority cited, it means the focus is on visas and people entering the US from abroad via Consular Processing. Section 212(f) permits the President to bar the entry of immigrants and classes of immigrants he deems to be detrimental to the United States.
In other words, this new rule should NOT have an impact on anyone that is already inside the United States, which will come as a relief to many.
It will also mean that almost no cases will be impacted because US embassies have already been closed for weeks now without any new immigrant visas being issued in the first place.
As we suspected, this is Trump making a 2020 Campaign move, not a real policy that is going to have any additional effect on what is already the current state of affairs.
This is merely an attempt to change the news cycle away from Trump's failures. It has nothing to do with protecting "American jobs" as the door remains open to all non-immigrant work visas.
Section 1. Suspension and Limitation on Entry. – The section broadly states that the entry into the US of aliens as “immigrants” is suspended. This means people seeking to come in as permanent residents and non-immigrant categories and other categories of entrants are not covered.
Section 2. Scope of Suspension and Limitation on Entry.
The suspension covers people if the following criteria are met:
- They’re outside the US on the effective date of the proclamation (11:59 pm – 4/23).
- They don’t have an immigrant visa valid on the effective date.
- They don’t have an official travel document other than a visa.
The following categories are exempt:
- Any lawful permanent residents (green card holders)
- People seeking to enter the US on an immigrant visa as a physician, nurse, or other health care professional, to perform medical research intended to combat the spread of COVID, or to perform work essential to combating recovering from or alleviating the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak, as determined by DOS or DHS.
- EB-5 immigrant investors
- Spouses of US citizens
- Children under 21 of US citizens or prospective adoptees
- People who further important US law enforcement objectives, as determined by DOS or DHS
- Members of the US Armed Forces or their spouses and children
- Special Immigrants (including Iraqi and Afghani translators and religious workers)
- People whose entry would be in the national interest as determined by DOS or DHS. Potentially, this could include EB-2 national interest waiver recipients.
Section 3. Implementation and Enforcement.
The consular officer makes the determination if an individual is eligible for one of the exemptions in Section 2. DOS and DHS may set the procedures to carry this out. People circumventing this through fraud or willful misrepresentation shall be a priority for removal.
This order doesn’t impact people seeking asylum, refugee status, withholding of removal or protection under the Convention Against Torture.
Section 4. Termination.
The proclamation expires 60 days from tomorrow, but may be continued “as necessary”. A recommendation on continuing must be provided by the Secretary of Homeland Security (in consultation with DOS and DOL) within 50 days.
Section 5. Effective Date.
11:59 eastern daylight time on April 23, 2020.
Section 6. Additional Measures.
Within 30 days of the effective date, DOL and DHS, in consultation with DOS, shall review nonimmigrant programs and make recommendation to stimulate the US economy and ensure the prioritization, hiring, and employment of US workers.
Section 7. Severability.
If the courts throw out any part, it’s the intention to continue on with the rest or the order.
Section 8. General Provisions.
Boilerplate language regarding complying with budget and other rules.
*Gaslighting, if you don’t know the word, is defined as manipulation into doubting your own sanity; as in, Carl made Mary think she was crazy, even though she clearly caught him cheating. He gaslit her.
Pretty soon, as the country begins to figure out how we “open back up” and move forward, very powerful forces will try to convince us all to get back to normal. (That never happened. What are you talking about?) Billions of dollars will be spent on advertising, messaging, and television and media content to make you feel comfortable again. It will come in the traditional forms — a billboard here, a hundred commercials there — and in new-media forms: a 2020–2021 generation of memes to remind you that what you want again is normalcy. In truth, you want the feeling of normalcy, and we all want it. We want desperately to feel good again, to get back to the routines of life, to not lie in bed at night wondering how we’re going to afford our rent and bills, to not wake to an endless scroll of human tragedy on our phones, to have a cup of perfectly brewed coffee and simply leave the house for work. The need for comfort will be real, and it will be strong. And every brand in America will come to your rescue, dear consumer, to help take away that darkness and get life back to the way it was before the crisis. I urge you to be well aware of what is coming.
For the last hundred years, the multibillion-dollar advertising business has operated based on this cardinal principle: Find the consumer’s problem and fix it with your product. When the problem is practical and tactical, the solution is “as seen on TV” and available at Home Depot. Command strips will save me from having to repaint. So will Mr. Clean’s Magic Eraser. Elfa shelving will get rid of the mess in my closet. The Ring doorbell will let me see who’s on the porch if I can’t take my eyes off Netflix. But when the problem is emotional, the fix becomes a new staple in your life, and you become a lifelong loyalist. Coca-Cola makes you: happy. A Mercedes makes you: successful. Taking your family on a Royal Caribbean cruise makes you: special. Smart marketers know how to highlight what brands can do for you to make your life easier. But brilliant marketers know how to rewire your heart. And, make no mistake, the heart is what has been most traumatized this last month. We are, as a society, now vulnerable in a whole new way.
What the trauma has shown us, though, cannot be unseen. A carless Los Angeles has clear blue skies as pollution has simply stopped. In a quiet New York, you can hear the birds chirp in the middle of Madison Avenue. Coyotes have been spotted on the Golden Gate Bridge. These are the postcard images of what the world might be like if we could find a way to have a less deadly daily effect on the planet. What’s not fit for a postcard are the other scenes we have witnessed: a health care system that cannot provide basic protective equipment for its frontline; small businesses — and very large ones — that do not have enough cash to pay their rent or workers, sending over 16 million people to seek unemployment benefits; a government that has so severely damaged the credibility of our media that 300 million people don’t know who to listen to for basic facts that can save their lives.
The cat is out of the bag. We, as a nation, have deeply disturbing problems. You’re right. That’s not news. They are problems we ignore every day, not because we’re terrible people or because we don’t care about fixing them, but because we don’t have time. Sorry, we have other shit to do. The plain truth is that no matter our ethnicity, religion, gender, political party (the list goes on), nor even our socioeconomic status, as Americans we share this: We are busy. We’re out and about hustling to make our own lives work. We have goals to meet and meetings to attend and mortgages to pay — all while the phone is ringing and the laptop is pinging. And when we get home, Crate and Barrel and Louis Vuitton and Andy Cohen make us feel just good enough to get up the next day and do it all over again. It is very easy to close your eyes to a problem when you barely have enough time to close them to sleep. The greatest misconception among us, which causes deep and painful social and political tension every day in this country, is that we somehow don’t care about each other. White people don’t care about the problems of black America. Men don’t care about women’s rights. Cops don’t care about the communities they serve. Humans don’t care about the environment. These couldn’t be further from the truth. We do care. We just don’t have the time to do anything about it. Maybe that’s just me. But maybe it’s you, too.
Well, the treadmill you’ve been on for decades just stopped. Bam! And that feeling you have right now is the same as if you’d been thrown off your Peloton bike and onto the ground: What in the holy fuck just happened? I hope you might consider this: What happened is inexplicably incredible. It’s the greatest gift ever unwrapped. Not the deaths, not the virus, but The Great Pause. It is, in a word, profound. Please don’t recoil from the bright light beaming through the window. I know it hurts your eyes. It hurts mine, too. But the curtain is wide open. What the crisis has given us is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see ourselves and our country in the plainest of views. At no other time, ever in our lives, have we gotten the opportunity to see what would happen if the world simply stopped. Here it is. We’re in it. Stores are closed. Restaurants are empty. Streets and six-lane highways are barren. Even the planet itself is rattling less (true story). And because it is rarer than rare, it has brought to light all of the beautiful and painful truths of how we live. And that feels weird. Really weird. Because it has… never… happened… before. If we want to create a better country and a better world for our kids, and if we want to make sure we are even sustainable as a nation and as a democracy, we have to pay attention to how we feel right now. I cannot speak for you, but I imagine you feel like I do: devastated, depressed, and heartbroken.
And what a perfect time for Best Buy and H&M and Wal-Mart to help me feel normal again. If I could just have the new iPhone in my hand, if I could rest my feet on a pillow of new Nikes, if I could drink a venti blonde vanilla latte or sip a Diet Coke, then this very dark feeling would go away. You think I’m kidding, that I’m being cute, that I’m denying the very obvious benefits of having a roaring economy. You’re right. Our way of life is not without purpose. The economy is not, at its core, evil. Brands and their products create millions of jobs. Like people — and most anything in life — there are brands that are responsible and ethical, and there are others that are not. They are all part of a system that keeps us living long and strong. We have lifted more humans out of poverty through the power of economics than any other civilization in history. Yes, without a doubt, Americanism is a force for good. It is not some villainous plot to wreak havoc and destroy the planet and all our souls along with it. I get it, and I agree. But its flaws have been laid bare for all to see. It doesn’t work for everyone. It’s responsible for great destruction. It is so unevenly distributed in its benefit that three men own more wealth than 150 million people. Its intentions have been perverted, and the protection it offers has disappeared. In fact, it’s been brought to its knees by one pangolin. We have got to do better and find a way to a responsible free market.
Until then, get ready, my friends. What is about to be unleashed on American society will be the greatest campaign ever created to get you to feel normal again. It will come from brands, it will come from government, it will even come from each other, and it will come from the left and from the right. We will do anything, spend anything, believe anything, just so we can take away how horribly uncomfortable all of this feels. And on top of that, just to turn the screw that much more, will be the one effort that’s even greater: the all-out blitz to make you believe you never saw what you saw. The air wasn’t really cleaner; those images were fake. The hospitals weren’t really a war zone; those stories were hyperbole. The numbers were not that high; the press is lying. You didn’t see people in masks standing in the rain risking their lives to vote. Not in America. You didn’t see the leader of the free world push an unproven miracle drug like a late-night infomercial salesman. That was a crisis update. You didn’t see homeless people dead on the street. You didn’t see inequality. You didn’t see indifference. You didn’t see utter failure of leadership and systems.
But you did. You are not crazy, my friends. And so we are about to be gaslit in a truly unprecedented way. It starts with a check for $1,200 (Don’t say I never gave you anything) and then it will be so big that it will be bigly. And it will be a one-two punch from both big business and the big White House — inextricably intertwined now more than ever and being led by, as our luck would have it, a Marketer in Chief. Business and government are about to band together to knock us unconscious again. It will be funded like no other operation in our lifetimes. It will be fast. It will be furious. And it will be overwhelming. The Great American Return to Normal is coming.
From one citizen to another, I beg of you: take a deep breath, ignore the deafening noise, and think deeply about what you want to put back into your life. This is our chance to define a new version of normal, a rare and truly sacred (yes, sacred) opportunity to get rid of the bullshit and to only bring back what works for us, what makes our lives richer, what makes our kids happier, what makes us truly proud. We get to Marie Kondo the shit out of it all. We care deeply about one another. That is clear. That can be seen in every supportive Facebook post, in every meal dropped off for a neighbor, in every Zoom birthday party. We are a good people. And as a good people, we want to define — on our own terms — what this country looks like in five, 10, 50 years. This is our chance to do that, the biggest one we have ever gotten. And the best one we’ll ever get.
We can do that on a personal scale in our homes, in how we choose to spend our family time on nights and weekends, what we watch, what we listen to, what we eat, and what we choose to spend our dollars on and where. We can do it locally in our communities, in what organizations we support, what truths we tell, and what events we attend. And we can do it nationally in our government, in which leaders we vote in and to whom we give power. If we want cleaner air, we can make it happen. If we want to protect our doctors and nurses from the next virus — and protect all Americans — we can make it happen. If we want our neighbors and friends to earn a dignified income, we can make that happen. If we want millions of kids to be able to eat if suddenly their school is closed, we can make that happen. And, yes, if we just want to live a simpler life, we can make that happen, too. But only if we resist the massive gaslighting that is about to come. It’s on its way. Look out.
President Trump announced a plan to close the United States to people trying to come to the country to live and work. He justified the drastic move as a necessary step to protect American workers from foreign competition once the nation’s economy begins to recover from the shutdown caused by the coronavirus outbreak.
It appears many cases will still continue to be accepted and processed, but they will be held short of final approval to travel into the United States for as long as the suspension lasts. There is no way to foresee how long this will be at this time.
Under the kind of executive order the president described, the Trump administration would no longer approve any applications from foreigners to live and work in the United States for an undetermined period of time — effectively shutting down the legal immigration system in the same way the president has long advocated closing the borders to illegal immigration.
Workers who have for years received visas to perform specialized jobs in the United States would also be denied permission to arrive, though workers in some industries deemed critical could be exempted from the ban, people familiar with the president’s decision said.
The president’s announcement caught some senior Department of Homeland Security officials off guard, and the agency did not respond to questions and requests to explain Trump’s plan late Monday.
The United States already has placed broad restrictions on travel from Europe, China and other pandemic hot spots, while implementing strict controls at the country’s land borders. International air travel has plummeted.
Halting immigration to the United States could affect hundreds of thousands of visa holders and other would-be green card recipients who are planning and preparing to come to the United States at any given time. Most of them are the family members of Americans.
It remains unclear what exceptions Trump could include in such a sweeping immigration order, or if would-be immigrants could reach the United States by demonstrating they are free of the virus. The White House officials said they thought the order would not be in place long-term.
On March 18, the State Department canceled most routine immigrant and nonimmigrant visa appointments at its offices overseas, effectively shutting down almost all new kinds of travel into the United States. The State Department also stopped all processing for refugee resettlement.
Later that week, however, authorities resumed processing H-2A visas for seasonal guest workers. The country's agricultural laborers have been officially declared “essential workers,” including hundreds of thousands of people who enter the country under that temporary visa.
Trump already has cited the health emergency to enact the kind of enforcement measures at the U.S. border with Mexico he has long extolled, moves that have essentially closed the border to asylum seekers and waved off anti-trafficking protections for underage migrants. During the past few weeks of the coronavirus crisis, U.S. border authorities have expelled 10,000 border crossers in an average of just a little more than an hour and a half each, which has effectively emptied out U.S. Border Patrol holding facilities of detainees.
U.S. border authorities say the measures are in place to help federal agents, health-care workers and the public by preventing potentially infected migrants from crossing into the United States, while minimizing the population of detainees in U.S. immigration jails.
The Congressional Research Service (CRS), which works exclusively for the United States Congress to provide nonpartisan policy and legal analysis, has released a report confirming that many nonimmigrants are eligible to receive recovery rebates (frequently referred to as stimulus checks) under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
Requirements for Eligibility Grounded in Tax Law
As detailed in the CRS report, in order to qualify for the recover rebate, the foreign national must have a Social Security Number, and must be considered a resident alien under tax law. To be a resident alien, one must either be a lawful permanent resident (i.e., green card holder) or meet the “substantial presence test” under tax law. The report summarizes the substantial presence test as follows:
To meet the substantial presence test, you must be physically present in the United States on at least:
1. 31 days during the current year, and
2. 183 days during the 3-year period that includes the current year and the 2 years immediately before that, counting:
– All the days you were present in the current year, and
– 1/3 of the days you were present in the first year before the current year, and
– 1/6 of the days you were present in the second year before the current year
The substantial presence test has special rules for some aliens considered “exempt individuals,” such as nonimmigrant diplomats and students, and other aliens who demonstrate a closer connection to a foreign country.
Any individual with specific questions regarding eligibility for the recovery rebate should consult with a tax attorney.
No Public Charge Issue
Finally, the report clarifies that receipt of the recovery rebate will not be considered for public charge purposes.
The ability to support yourself or your dependents is often critical to an immigration case. Many states maintain active job postings, including our home state of Ohio that is currently posting thousands of available jobs to apply for.
The birds were chirping in the late afternoon sun. The strong scent of spring was breezing by gently. A young couple stood before me in front of my home and prepared to take a sacred vow of love and companionship, to stand by one another and provide for one another - in sickness and in health - for as long as they both shall live.
Our ceremony of three was witnessed by the creatures of my garden and by a family playing games in their yard just down the street. Marriage in the time of Coronavirus allows for no other witness. As we safely maintain distance from one another, from young to old, and from family to friend we re-invent our norms, our customs, and ourselves to protect one another.
Why not wait to wed until we can reunite together? Sometimes circumstances compel us to press on.
Indeed as those in the immigration world know, for many immigration benefits a marriage must be completed within a certain time period or one may need to depart the country and face months or years apart from their loved one before being reunited again.
Marriage in the time of Coronavirus is no easy task. Simply obtaining a marriage license is tough as our public institution are shuttered, and finding someone that can perform the ceremony is down right improbable - but not impossible!
So while storm clouds are brewing on the distant horizons, pockets of sunshine can and should be cherished right above us, and we should not be afraid to have a little fun and live our lives. Giving to and supporting others, wearing a smile bravely across our face, embracing love - these are critical to our well being at all times.
And so I found myself yesterday on my own front lawn performing the sacred ritual of marriage to ensure a young couple would live their lives together.
I wore my favorite outdoor farmer hat for our festivities, and warned them upfront that my sermon might not be quite what they'd heard before. And when I asked those assembled to speak now if any thought this couple should not be wed, I winked at the couple and peered briefly into a near by bush to verify that no lurking being was present that opposed their nuptials.
It brought a strong ray of joy to me to be a part of their marriage that I will cherish during these extraordinary times, and I hope I've provided them at the very least a fun story to tell their grandchildren about one day. A story of our unique ceremony witnessed solely by my garden.
Carl Sagan said it best, "The world is so exquisite with so much love and moral depth. We should remain grateful every day for the brief but magnificent opportunity that life provides. The sum of all our evolution, our thinking and our accomplishments is love. A marriage makes two fractional lives a whole. It gives to two questioning natures a renewed reason for living. It brings a new gladness to the sunshine, a new fragrance to the flowers, a new beauty to the earth, and a new mystery to life."
Unemployment insurance payments are not generally taken into consideration by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for purposes of making a public charge determination.
As DHS explained in its final rule on inadmissibility on public charge grounds, “DHS would not consider federal and state retirement, Social Security retirement benefits, Social Security Disability, post secondary education, and unemployment benefits as public benefits under the public charge inadmissibility determination as these are considered to be earned benefits through the person’s employment and specific tax deductions.”
The U.S. Department of State (DOS) has not confirmed whether treatment or care related to COVID-19 will be considered as part of its public charge totality of the circumstances analysis.
Moreover, the DOS Interim Final Rule and the Foreign Affairs Manual do not directly address the issue of how unemployment benefits will impact public charge determinations made by consular officers at U.S. consulates overseas.
On March 18, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services temporarily suspended in-person services at its field offices, asylum offices, and application support centers (ASCs) to help slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). USCIS offices will begin to reopen on May 4 unless the public closures are extended further. Employees in these offices are continuing to perform mission-essential services that do not require face-to-face contact with the public.
USCIS will continue to provide limited emergency services. Please call the Contact Center for assistance with emergency services.
USCIS field offices will send notices to applicants and petitioners with scheduled appointments and naturalization ceremonies impacted by the extended temporary closure. USCIS asylum offices will send interview cancellation notices and automatically reschedule asylum interviews. When the interview is rescheduled, asylum applicants will receive a new interview notice with the new time, date and location of the interview. When USCIS again resumes normal operations, USCIS will automatically reschedule ASC appointments due to the temporary office closure. You will receive a new appointment letter in the mail. Individuals who had InfoPass or other appointments must reschedule through the USCIS Contact Center once field offices are open to the public again. Please check to see if the office in your jurisdiction has been reopened before reaching out to the USCIS Contact Center.
Education and precautions are the strongest tools against infection. Get the latest facts by visiting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID-19 website. Continue to practice good health habits, refrain from handshakes or hugs as greetings, and wash hands and clean surfaces appropriately.
USCIS will provide further updates as the situation develops and will continue to follow CDC guidance. Please also visit uscis.gov/coronavirus for updates.
This website and the information on it is not legal advice. Do not rely upon any information found on this website or through the links on this website. You must contact our law firm AND enter into a written legal retainer agreement in order to obtain legal advice from our law firm for your situation. Contact us today so that we can provide you legal advice for your case.