Sanwar Ali: US Coronavirus pandemic and US visa policy

Support migrant centric journalism today and donate

By Sanwar Ali

The current coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic has caused delays in US visa processing for migrants around the World.  If there is enough availability of coronavirus testing then Governors are more likely to “reopen” their States, and US visa processing will return to normal more quickly.  

In addition, a number of migrants who already have visas including those on L1 visas, H1B visas and other US visa categories are stuck abroad unable to return to the US.  This is causing them great hardship.

Arguments between State Governors and President Donald Trump about coronavirus testing. 

Donald Trump has claimed that there is sufficient availability of coronavirus testing and so making it easier for States to reopen for business.  In the US the position of President is not as powerful as many people think.  Governors have the power to “open up” the economy in each State.  The President can make recommendations but does not have complete power over individual States.  This was admitted by Trump on Friday.  Previously he had said that he had absolute power to reopen the economy.

Governors including Republican Governors have disputed Trump’s claim that there is now sufficient testing capability for States to start bringing things back to normal.   On CNN’s “State of the Union” they had the following to say.

Democratic Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said that the suggestion that there was enough testing capability was  "just delusional."   He also had the following to say.

"We've been fighting every day for PPE. We have supplies now coming in. We've been fighting for testing."

"It's not a straightforward test. We don't even have enough swabs."

Republican Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said the lack of testing is the biggest problem in America and said "has been since the beginning of the crisis."  Hogan also had the following to say.

"The administration, I think, is trying to ramp up testing. They are doing some things with respect to private labs…"

"But to try and push this off to say that the governors have plenty of testing and they should just get to work on testing -- somehow we aren't doing our job -- is just absolutely false."

Donald Trump claims plenty of coronavirus testing capacity

Trump had previously claimed that Governors do not want to use all of the testing capacity.

"don't want to use all of the (testing) capacity that we've created. We have tremendous capacity."

He had previously claimed that a million additional tests could be made available each week.

If overseas Doctors on visas fighting coronavirus die, their families may need to leave

The US is very dependent on health care workers from overseas, with more than a quarter of physicians from overseas.   In some parts of the US the percentage is higher than this.  This is also an important factor to consider if the US wishes to “reopen” the economy.  Overseas doctors and other healthcare workers need to be looked after to make sure that there are enough health care workers to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

Doctors on visas such as the H1B visa and J1 visa are putting themselves at risk. If the primary visa holder dies the rest of the family may very well have to leave the US.  There are certain concessions allowed under the law that may allow families to stay in this situation. However, this is uncertain.

Latest coronavirus updates, visa and immigration restrictions

For the latest updates on the coronavirus, plus details of visa and immigration restrictions worldwide, check’s news section to stay informed. 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 - can help. is a specialist visa consultancy with over thirty years of experience dealing with visa applications. We can help with a wide range of visa applications to your country of choice. Contact us for further details.  You can also telephone 0344 991 9222.