Government agency closures due to the coronavirus pandemic could impact your legal status in the U.S.
Schools and businesses throughout the United States have been ordered to close as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. In an effort to reduce community spread, many of the services we count on are either limited or delayed. This includes those provided by government agencies. For immigrants, these closures could impact your legal status, delaying your ability to obtain or renew visas for yourself or your family members. As experienced Nashville immigration attorneys, we want you to be aware of these changes and the help that is available.
Immigration Office Closures Limit Services to Immigrants
In response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, United States Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) closed many of its offices to the public. These changes went into effect on March 18, 2020 and are expected to last at least until May 3rd. USCIS staff members will continue to provide emergency services on a limited basis.
USCIS has sent out notices to those who had previously scheduled interviews at field offices. These will automatically be rescheduled once USCIS offices reopen and normal hours have resumed. For those who had been planning on entering the U.S. on a visa that would allow you to remain on either a temporary or permanent basis, it is important to be aware of the following changes:
- If you were planning on obtaining a visa: Consulates throughout the world are suspending visa services. While you may submit an application, processing will be delayed.
- If you have an upcoming consulate appointment: Check to make sure it has not been cancelled or delayed.
How Response to Coronavirus can Impact Your Legal Status
On March 18, 2020, a CNN news report detailed a number of temporary changes the Trump administration was making within the legal immigration system in response to the coronavirus pandemic. If you are in the country on a family or business visa, you need to be aware of how these changes could impact your situation.
If you are currently here on a visa that is about to expire, imminent border closings could make it impossible to leave the country. You may want to take action to avoid being in the country illegally.
Depending on your situation, you may be able to file Form I-539, Application To Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status. There are several qualifications for extending or changing nonimmigrant status in the United States. Visitors, for example, may be able to extend their tourist (B-1 and/or B-2) visas in six-month increments. Changing status to a business visa — to that of an entrepreneur, treaty trader, or a specialized employee under NAFTA (the TN visa) may be a viable option as well.
Contact Our Nashville Immigration Attorneys Today
During these difficult times, immigrants face unique challenges. Ozment Law, PLC, is here to help. To ensure you maintain your legal status during the coronavirus epidemic, call or contact our office online today to speak with our Nashville immigration attorneys.