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Hernandez Law Group, P.C. is a proud supporter of immigrants looking to achieve their American dream. This is why we offer unparalleled legal support for immigrants and those seeking citizenship. To uphold our commitment to serving our clients to the best of our abilities, we have been keeping a close eye on the recent changes to immigration law. Due to COVID-19, 48 policies have been enacted to change immigration law in response to the pandemic. Here are the changes that both immigrants and Americans should be aware of:

Ban On Asylum Seekers

On March 20th, 2020, the United States placed a ban on asylum seekers for 30 days. This was then extended indefinitely in May. The ban states that anyone who is not authorized to be in the United States will be detained along the southern border and returned to their home country immediately. The ban also states that all asylum seekers and unaccompanied children arriving at the southern border seeking protection, even under the fear of persecution, will be returned to their home country.

For more information, here are the CDC statement and the DHS statement concerning the ban.

Suspension of Entry for Refugees

On March 18th, 2020, the State Department placed a temporary suspension on refugee entry into the United States. This suspension has ended as of July 29th, 2020, but during the suspension, all refugee resettlement into the U.S. was halted. However, the U.S. Volunteer agencies assisting with refugee resettlement (those who were already in the country) were allowed to remain open.

The United States was not alone in these actions, as other countries such as England, France, Italy, and Germany implemented similar suspensions. These were done to slow down the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

UAC Placement Restrictions

On March 10th, 2020, the Office of Refugee Resettlement stopped placing unaccompanied alien children in homes or shelters near states with significant COVID-19 outbreaks. On March 26th, 2020 this was expanded to include more states, such as California and New York.

MPP Hearings Postpones

When the virus first hit, many states closed down their court systems to help citizens remain safe. On a larger scale, the Migration Protection Protocols (MPP) hearings were also postponed from March 23rd, 2020 through July 17th, 2020, where it was then extended indefinitely. These hearings will continue to be postponed until the following has been met:

  • California, Arizona, and Texas progress into phase three of their reopening plans
  • DOS and CDC lower their global health advisory regarding Mexico to level 2

Legal Immigration Suspended

On April 22nd, 2020, President Donald Trump’s presidential proclamation suspended immigration that fell under the following conditions:

  • Those with pending green card petitions
  • Spouses and children of lawful permanent residents
  • Pending diversity visa applicants

All federal agencies were called to review nonimmigrant programs to assess potential changes that could further protect the United States from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Visa Appointment Suspensions

On March 18th, 2020, the State Department implemented an indefinite suspension on Visa Appointments that canceled all routine immigrant and nonimmigrant visa appointments. This paused almost all legal immigration to the United States. However, limited nonimmigrant categories associated with essential workers, such as doctors, have been exempted from the appointment requirements. On July 14th, 2020, the United States Department began rephasing routine visa services.

Chinese Graduate Student Ban

On May 29th, 2020, a presidential proclamation called for the banning of entry into the United States for all Chinese national students on F and J visas. This ban did not include undergraduate students. This ban was aimed at individuals who, in the past, participated in research connected with the People’s Republic of China and its military-civil fusion strategy. All other students participating in other fields of study do not fall under this ban and are permitted to enter the country.

China Travel Ban

Under the presidential proclamation given on January, 31st, all individuals who were present in China two weeks prior to the proclamation are banned from entry into the United States. This does not include, however, lawful permanent residents of the U.S., U.S. Citizens, and any direct family members of either category.

Quarantine for U.S. Citizens Returning from China

Implemented on January, 31st and extended indefinitely on April 7th, 2020, all U.S. citizens returning from China must be screened and self-quarantined for two weeks after re-entering the country.

Your Trusted Immigration Experts

If you are having an issue with your immigration status or are seeking to take the next step to gain citizenship, the Hernandez Law Group, P.C. is here to help. We are proud to serve the hardworking immigrant community and want to help your American dream come true. Contact our team today for more information or to schedule a consultation.