How COVID Affects U.S. Immigration

U.S. immigration laws are notorious for being difficult to understand and overcome. While they may have been manageable at one point, COVID-19 has made things more difficult for everyone involved. Pursuing legal immigration and green cards to become a lawful permanent resident is not out of your reach. While getting a favorable outcome in your immigration needs are now more challenging, they are not impossible with the help of a skilled immigration attorney.

The Immigration Law Offices of Neelam Bhardwaj PLLC has been helping clients with their immigration needs for more than 25 years. Attorney Neelam Bhardwaj is proud to help clients, regardless of nationality or refugee status, throughout North Carolina from her office in Greensboro. The immigration process has always been an ever-changing issue to take on, and COVID is no exception. To help expedite your immigration matters, Ms. Bhardwaj has listed important COVID information about immigration here.

Staying up to date

People seeking permanent resident status, especially new immigrants, may be surprised at how many immigration issues there may be. The law seems to make immigration to the United States difficult to come here legally, which is why legal immigrants and illegal immigrants should do everything possible to learn about the law to get a green card, work visa, visitor visa, or just reduce the processing times of their immigration needs.  

When refugees or anyone else immigrate to this country through our immigration and naturalization process, they can use the help of experienced immigration attorneys. Attorney Neelam Bhardwaj can help you navigate the immigration system lawfully, so that you can swiftly apply for citizenship to become an American citizen, or achieve any other immigration goal you may have.

Changes to office locations

While the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) offices are not closed due to COVID, there are some changes you should be aware of if you have plans to go to one of their offices. All USCIS employees across all Department of Homeland Security offices are making efforts to protect guests by wearing masks at all times, regardless of their level of vaccination.

Guests are not allowed to enter the building if they have COVID or any of its symptoms, been in close contact with someone who has COVID, recently returned from air or ship travel (unless fully vaccinated), or been instructed by a health care provider to quarantine for any period of time. You will also need to answer a health screening before entering and follow additional markings and barriers to ensure public safety while on the premises. These guidelines also take precedence over any state, local, or other rules and regulations regarding the matter.

Appointments and scheduling

One of the primary changes to appointments is now a restriction on who can attend them. For an appointment, the applying immigrant can only bring their attorney and another individual if they need disability assistance. These additional people can attend the appointment in person or via teleconference. If you plan on having someone attend by phone, you will need to notify the officer of your appointment, who will then contact the individual on your behalf.

Interpreters should plan on only attending an appointment by phone unless otherwise requested by the USCIS. If an applicant needs someone to interpret sign language for them or someone to act as a deaf interpreter, they can contact the USCIS Contact Center for more information.

Asylum Appointments

Some offices experienced a temporary closure because of COVID. If these closures canceled your asylum appointment, the offices will automatically reschedule them. When the USCIS does this, you will receive an interview notice providing information about the new time, day, and location for the appointment.

Any applicant will need to bring any immediate family members that they listed as dependents on their application. They may also bring their attorney, witnesses and assisting individuals with disability needs. If the applicant is a minor, they may also bring a parent or guardian. If an applicant needs an interpreter, the USCIS provides them at no cost to the applicant.

Deadline extension

Because of COVID’s interference with so many areas of a person’s life, the USCIS has granted an extension on any request or notice submitted between March 1, 2020, through September 30, 2021. These notices and requests now have an additional 60 days from the due date on the letter for an applicant to comply with the forms request.

Extension of stay and change of status changes

Due to the difficulties that the travel industry is experiencing because of COVID, the USCIS is aware that nonimmigrants are experiencing their own challenges to comply with their period of admission time-frame. If an unexpected event causes a nonimmigrant to remain in the country beyond their admission period, there are several options they can choose from for a deferred action.

They can apply for an extension of their stay or a change in their status. The USCIS is still accepting these documents, which means it is not too late to file one for yourself if necessary. If you file your application on time, you may receive an extension of up to 240 days.

Late applicants will need to prove a special circumstance for the USCIS to accept their late application. Ms. Neelam Bhardwaj can help you complete any forms necessary for a late or on-time application.

Get the guidance you need

COVID may present challenges in your immigration needs, but it is one that attorney Bhardwaj can help you overcome. She is an immigration lawyer who can help you with issues including:

  •       Visas
  •       Naturalization
  •       Green-card applications
  •       Fighting Deportation
  •       Permanent residence
  •       Family reunification

Whether you are documented or undocumented, it can be hard to know what to do to succeed in your immigration legal matters or comply with any new changes that the USCIS has made because of COVID. To get the help you need navigating the complicated immigration policy, contact attorney Neelam Bhardwaj’s Greensboro office to schedule your initial consultation today. The sooner you reach out to her, the sooner she can get to work for you.

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