COVID-19 UPDATE Nr. 2 FOR GERMANS RESIDING IN THE UNITED STATES
Each day, our minds are boggled as we deal with the rapidly evolving events that seem unimaginable just a few short weeks ago. For U.S. citizens who enjoy the full rights and privileges of U.S. citizenship, the uncertainty is hard enough. However, for non-U.S. citizens, these profound life changes bring an additional burden: the uncertainty may have a severe impact upon their immigration status or pending immigration petitions or applications. And, for those in immigrant communities who lack proper documentation, navigating these circumstances must seem impossible.
Again, in this brief overview, we intend to provide you with a few FAQs and resources that are prompted by the President’s most recent Executive Order (“EO”). These reflect a variety of questions and concerns from the German-American community regarding the EO, dated April 23, 2020, which temporarily suspends entry by immigrants into the U.S. Here, we also address the state and effects of the closures of USCIS offices. These FAQs provide only general information. Each case is different, and the FAQs do not replace legal advice. The information in the FAQs is valid as of April 28, 2020. We hope they are helpful to you. If you have any questions, please reach out to us directly via Email, WhatsApp, SMS or phone. And, one more note: this sure will pass!
- What is the most recent proclamation about?
This proclamation, dated April 23, 2020, suspends the entry of immigrants, who the U.S. government believes may present a risk to the U.S. Labor Market during the economic recovery following the COVID-19 outbreak.
- Who is included?
The proclamation suspends entry into the U.S. by a person, seeking an immigrant visa (Green Card), who :
- is outside the U.S. on the effective date of the proclamation, or
- does not have a valid Immigrant visa on the effective date, or
- does not have a valid official travel document, such as a transportation letter or advance parole on the effective date or issued any date thereafter that permits travel to the United States to seek entry or admission.
Thus, the proclamation is meant to suspend entry into the U.S. by certain persons who would apply to be “Immigrants.” Immigrants are Legal Permanent Residents (Green Card), not Non-Immigrant visa holders.
- Who is not included?
The order specifically excludes certain types of immigrants such as:
- any lawful permanent resident of the United States (Green Card Holders),
- any alien seeking to enter the United States on an immigrant visa as a physician, nurse, or other healthcare professional, if their work activities is relates to combat the spread of COVID-19; and any accompanying spouse and unmarried children under 21 years old,
- any alien applying for a visa to enter the United States pursuant to the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program,
- any alien who is the spouse of a United States citizen.
A few additional excluded categories of people are excluded from the proclaimation’s ban. For additional details, please refer to Section 2 (b) of the proclamation .
- How long will this proclamation be effective?
The effective date was April 23, 2020 at 11:59 pm EST. It will expire 60 days from its effective date. It might continue or be modified.
- Will there be additional restrictions for Non-Immigrant visa holders such as E-1 or E-2 Visa holders?
Within 30 days of the effective, this executive order will be reviewed. The proclamation specifically says that “the Secretary of Labor and the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State, shall review nonimmigrant programs and shall recommend to me other measures appropriate to stimulate the United States economy and ensure the prioritization, hiring, and employment of United States workers.” In plain words, this leaves open the possibility of additional restrictions with regard to non-immigrant visa holders, such as E-1, E-2, L-1 and other non-immigrant visa categories.
- I’m a non-immigrant and have an E-2 visa. Am I allowed to travel now?
Even though this executive order is geared toward future “Immigrants,” a previous executive order, dated March 11th, 2020 is still in effect. So, if you travel abroad, you might not be able to re-enter the United States. Please see Point 7 below and our FAQ about this issue.
- What does the previous executive order say?
On March 11, President Trump signed a proclamation that restricts travel to the United States by foreign nationals who have recently been in certain European countries. This does not apply to U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents. There are additional exceptions, which can be found here (see Section 2). Note: On March 14th, 2020 UK and Ireland were added.You can find a German translation (DEUTSCHE VERSION) of the proclamation dated March 11, 2020 here.
- Is U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services still closed (USCIS)?
USCIS is still operating. However, to help slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), on March 18th USCIS temporarily suspended in-person services at its field offices, asylum offices, and application support centers (ASCs). Initially, USCIS announced May 4, 2020 as the re-opening date. Subsequently, USCIS announced it “is readying offices to re-open in compliance with local and state orders, 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 temporarily closed. During this time, individuals may still submit applications and petitions to USCIS.”
- I had an appointment with USCIS. When will I be rescheduled?
There is no specific date yet. On April 24, 2020 USCIS announced the following:
“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 normal operations, 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.”