Coronavirus US work visa and green card respite for applicants

Comments by Sanwar Ali:

Granting more time for applicants to obtain necessary information and documentation to respond to USCIS the US Government visa agency is very important. Under Trump, especially, it is more likely that following submission additional enquiries will be made by USCIS. Fortunately, more time has been granted for applicants and petitioners to respond during the coronavirus pandemic so reducing the risk that US visa applications will be unjustly refused.

The Trump administration has announced a 60-day extension period for different types of applications including for temporary US work visa and employment based green card applicants to submit requested documents amid disruption caused by coronavirus.

Applicants and petitioners asked to provide additional documents to support their application between March 1 and July 1, 2020 now have 60 extra days to send documents.

A statement from United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) said: “In response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, USCIS is extending the flexibilities it announced on March 30 to assist applicants and petitioners.”

“This included those responding to certain Requests for Evidence; Continuations to Request Evidence (N-14); Notices of Intent to Deny; Notices of Intent to Revoke; Notices of Intent to Rescind and Notices of Intent to terminate regional investment centres; and Filing date requirements for Form I-290B, Notice of Appeal or Motion,” USCIS said.

It’s understood that the respite period will apply to all US employment-based visas and green cards including: H1B visas, L1 visas, and E1 and E2 visas.

Relevant for USCIS notices with March 1 to July 1, 2020 issuance date

USCIS said that the additional 60-days to submit documents will only be applicable if issuance dates listed on document submission requests is between March 1 and July 1, 2020.

The USCIS statement said that a response will be considered to requests and notices received within 60 calendar days after the response due date specified in the request or notice, before taking any action.

The government agency said that it is ‘taking several measures to safeguard the workforce and community in the US’, with a view to minimising the immigration consequences on those seeking US immigration benefits amid coronavirus.

The announcement will provide some breathing room for the thousands of US guest workers holding H1B visas and green cards who were navigating the US immigration system prior to the coronavirus outbreak in the US. The news will also be welcomed by those sponsoring migrant workers.

Without additional days to submit documentation, many migrant workers in the US would have faced having to leave the country. Although USCIS continues to accept documents, other necessary parts of the US visa process, such as in-person interviews, have been suspended until June 3.

Huge US visa disruption

Coronavirus has disrupted many US visa and immigration services affecting tens or even hundreds of thousands of guest workers, international students and other potential US immigrants trying to navigate the system.

Matters have not been helped by anti-immigrant groups who have used coronavirus as an excuse to call for restrictions on immigration to the US amid mass unemployment among American workers.

An estimated 30 million Americans, representing 18 percent of the US workforce, have been laid-off because of coronavirus, with anti-immigrant advocates urging the Trump administration to enforce a blanket ban on all immigration and guest worker programs.

However, pro-immigrant groups have leapt to the defence of migrant workers, highlighting that the US would be left devastated without immigrants working in key sectors such as healthcare, medical research, farming and more – many of whom are in various stages of becoming permanent residents or citizens in the US.

USCIS visa processing

According to official figures, nearly 140,000 employment-based greens cards, 85,000 H1B visas and tens of thousands of other types of US work visas and dependent visas are processed by USCIS every year.

Meanwhile, tens of thousands of international students – mostly from China and India –seek to switch their F1 student visas to H1B visas. The F1 student visa allows holders one year, or more in the case of STEM workers, of optional practical training or an internship.

At any one time, more than one million guest workers and potential immigrants to the US will be filing paperwork to maintain or advance their work or immigration status in the US.

US immigration battle

Amid the growing coronavirus crisis in the US, immigration is at the center of a tug-of-war between pro-immigrant and anti-immigrant advocates, with the battle taking place at the highest levels of US government.

US President, Donald Trump, is caught between safeguarding the interests of Americans and maintaining the needs of the country, which needs immigrants currently serving on the frontline in the ongoing battle against COVID-19.

Pro-immigrant advocates argue that immigration benefits the US, while anti-immigrant groups say it’s harmful.

The battle has become personal for Trump, with his son-in-law Jared Kushner being one of the most vocal in speaking out against anti-immigrant groups calling for a blanket US immigration ban.

Instead, Kushner is pushing for immigration rules to be eased for refugees, temporary workers under the H1B visa program and farmworkers holding US H2A visas.

Leading the anti-immigrant push is Trump senior aide, Stephen Miller, who has been instrumental in the implementation of a number of extreme measures to restrict immigration to the US.

Latest coronavirus updates, visa and immigration restrictions

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Workpermit.com can help with US employment-based visas

If you would like to apply for a US work visa – including L1 visasE1 and E2 visasB1 in lieu of H1B visas and H1B visas - Workpermit.com can help. 

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