Is it time to travel yet?
Covid Travel Updates
The previous administration issued a proclamation aimed at reducing the number of people coming to the US on employment-based visas, because of the rising numbers of US unemployment filings in the US and a desire to protect the U.S. labor market. Specifically, any people seeking permanent residency based on family or employment status as well as diversity visas who were outside of the United States and had not been issued their visa or other travel documents (with certain exceptions) were affected by this proclamation.
On February 24, 2021, President Biden issued an executive order rescinding the previous policy. As a result, those intending immigrants will now be eligible to pursue their benefits without any of the previous restrictions. Hooray!! Of course, each intending immigrant must still demonstrate eligibility for the visa and for residency. The ban regarding non-permanent visa holders, such as H, L, and J visa holders, remains in place.
In addition, some Covid specific restrictions still are in place so depending on where the immigrant is coming from, they may still need to spend a 14‑day quarantine period elsewhere. Specifically, travelers from the British Isles, Brazil, China, Iran and the Schengen Area of the European Union may not be able to travel directly back to the United States. Consulting with your immigration attorney about the specific facts of your case will give you additional information about steps needed to pursue the immigrant journey.
Other Covid Restrictions
In addition to restrictions on some types of travel, immigrants have also faced delays due to some government offices not currently operating at full capacity due to Covid restrictions. Biometrics appointments (i.e. fingerprinting) required for many different visa types have been delayed due to the biometrics offices not operating. In addition to the offices still being closed or operating at reduced capacity, a backlog persists from the past year when all offices closed due to Covid. Thousands of immigrants await appointment rescheduling, so it may still take time to get an appointment if you are waiting.
For those intending immigrants outside of the United States, many embassies and consulates continue to remain closed for all but emergency situations. Other embassies/consulates continue to operate at reduced capacity, so intending immigrants may face a long wait for appointments or not be able to schedule one at all at this time. Each embassy/consulate operates separately when determining operating status so reaching out directly either to the in country facilities or to your immigration attorney is required.