Comments by Sanwar Ali:
The US visa system is very much out of date with for example non-immigrant I-129 work visa petitions having to be sent in bundles and in duplicate to the USCIS service centers in the US. Applications cannot be submitted via email. In addition payment of Government fees have to be via check or money order. There is no option to pay by card. The system is bureaucratic, complicated and antiquated. At least on a temporary basis, due to coronavirus, USCIS will accept I-129 petitions with copy signatures on the forms.
On March 20, 2020 United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that US visa applications would be accepted with reproduced original signatures, on a temporary basis. The announcement applies to submissions dated March 21, 2020 and beyond and includes Form I-129 for petitions for non-immigrant workers.
The decision came amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic in the US, where more than 1.2 million cases of coronavirus have been reported and more than 72,000 people have died.
In a statement issued by USCIS, the government agency said that it already accepts numerous petitions, applications and other documents that have been signed electronically with a digitally recreated original signature.
The statement adds that an electronically reproduced original signature refers to a document that is scanned, faxed, photocopied or recreated in another digital format. The copy must be of an original document signed with an original, handwritten signature, unless otherwise specified by USCIS.
US visa forms with copy signatures a temporary policy
USCIS stressed that the new policy is a temporary measure only and is applicable to documentation that would typically need an original, penned signature.
The USCIS statement added that all other instructions outlined on US visa application forms, other than those referring to original signatures, are still applicable.
At any time, USCIS may request original documents as part of a US visa application. Should an applicant fail to provide the documentation requested by USCIS, it could lead to an application being refused.
US visa problems amid coronavirus
As the coronavirus pandemic gripped the US, the Trump administration has sought to use the crisis as an excuse to further restrict immigration. Last month, Trump announced a 60-day ban on green card approvals. Meanwhile, one of the US president’s closest aides, Stephen Miller, continues to use the COVID-19 outbreak as a reason to lockout immigrants.
The Trump administration has also cut off many tax-paying migrants from accessing coronavirus relief funds, despite warnings from many pro-immigrant groups that migrants could be left destitute.
Matters have been made worse by the Trump administration’s refusal to ease the controversial public charge rule, which prevents immigrants from accessing state benefits. The decision not to temporarily scrap the public charge rule has been slammed by immigrant advocates and health workers.
Health specialists and immigrant supporters claim that Trump’s actions leave immigrants in fear of accessing healthcare and therefore, increasing the risk of spreading coronavirus.
Trump’s handling of coronavirus criticised
Trump’s handling of the coronavirus crisis has come under fire from many commentators. Having called hysteria over the COVID-19 pandemic a ‘Democratic hoax’ prior to the pandemic sweeping across the US, within weeks of making this comment he declared a state of national emergency.
The US president has also made many comments that contradict advice given by health experts. Most recently, Trump suggested that people ‘inject themselves with disinfectant’ to stop the disease, a suggestion that was widely condemned by health professionals.
Coronavirus in the US
As of May 6, 1,237,761 cases of coronavirus had been reported in the US with 72,275 deaths. The US has the highest number of coronavirus cases and COVID-19 related fatalities in the world. New York has been hardest hit, with 330,139 cases reported and 25,204 deaths.
Latest coronavirus updates, visa and immigration restrictions
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