United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will temporarily suspend all in-person services at their field offices, application support centers, and asylum offices on January 19 and 20, 2021. The closures are an effort to protect the agency’s employees and individuals with appointments during presidential inauguration events.
United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will extend border restrictions which block all nonessential land and ferry travel across the United States borders with Mexico and Canada through February 21, 2021. Air travel is not affected by the restriction. Essential travel is permitted, and includes things like travel for work, school, medical treatment, and more. These restrictions have been renewed multiple times since being enacted on March 21, 2020 to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Airline passengers aged two and older must show either proof of a negative COVID-19 test or proof of recovery to enter the United States from any foreign country, effective January 26, 2021. Airlines will deny entry to individuals who fail to provide this proof when boarding their flight to the United States. Those who do not comply with the order are subject to criminal penalties.
US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has extended its remote Form I-9 document verification policy through September 19, 2020 to help employers cope with the COVID-19 pandemic. Under this policy, employers do not have to verify new Form I-9- employment eligibility documentation in the employee’s physical presence until September 19, 2020, or within three days of the COVID-19 national emergency’s end, whichever comes sooner.
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services has announced how it will implement Department of Homeland Security (DHS) policy for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. USCIS will reject all applications from foreign nationals who have never received DACA and return their application fees. These individuals may reapply for DACA without prejudice if this policy is overturned in the future. USCIS will continue to accept DACA applications from people who have received DACA before.
At the beginning of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, F and M students could take classes remotely. This allowed schools to maintain social distancing protocols while students could continuously maintain their immigration status in the US. On July 26, 2020, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) enacted policy requiring international students to leave the United States if their courses were fully online for the fall 2020 semester. After multiple lawsuits, DHS rescinded the policy for existing students only on July 14, 2020.
The Second Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that a recent suspension of the Department of Homeland Security’s public charge rule during the COVID-19 pandemic only applies within the Second Circuit, which includes the states of Vermont, Connecticut, and New York. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) may still enforce the public charge rule in every other US state and the District of Columbia. This ruling does not impact the Department of State (DOS), which is still barred from implementing their public charge rule nationwide based on a separate lawsuit, Make the Road New York, et a. v. DOS. While each agency’s public charge rule varies, both penalize foreign nationals who use certain public benefits.
On July 6, 2020, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced that F and M student visa holders will no longer be eligible for valid nonimmigrant status if they are enrolled in fully online courses for the fall 2020 semester.
On June 4, 2020, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will begin reopening some field offices and application support centers (ASCs) to the public and resume non-emergency face-to-face services. USCIS offices were temporarily closed to prevent the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).
USCIS will follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines. They will establish measures to protect their workforce and the public when facilities reopen.