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Coronavirus (COVID-19) – April 2020 Update

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Coronavirus (COVID-19) – April 2020 Update

The novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has undoubtedly had an impact on everyone’s lives. Ibrahim Law Office would like to take the time to wish you and your loved ones the best of wishes during these times. We would also like to update our readers and clients about how it may impact their or a loved one’s U.S. immigration case.

The World Health Organization (“WHO”) has officially declared the novel coronavirus COVID-19 a pandemic. This worldwide health crisis is a unique challenge that has impacted nearly every U.S. immigration-related agency and sub-agency. The U.S. government has implemented restrictions on travel. The pandemic is spreading around the world. As an immigration law office, we would like to educate immigrants regarding how COVID-19 may impact their lives.


On March 18, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) temporarily suspended in-person services until April 7 at its field offices, asylum offices, and Application Support Centers (ASCs). The closure impacts in-person interviews for green cards and citizenship, as well as fingerprint appointments and in-person case inquiries.

USCIS states that it shall continue working on cases at its service centers and field offices where person-to-person contact is not required. USCIS will provide emergency services for limited situations. To schedule an emergency appointment, contact the USCIS Contact Center.

Immigration Court (EOIR)

The Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), also known as the immigration court, has announced that all non-detained removal hearings are cancelled through May 1, 2020. Respondents, or their attorneys, should receive a new court date in the coming weeks or months. Detained court hearings are still being heard at most immigration courts nationwide.

Department of State (U.S. Embassies and Consulates Abroad)

On March 31, 2020, The U.S. Department of State issued a Level 4 “Do Not Travel” warning to all U.S. citizens, in a global health advisory. U.S. Embassies and Consulates worldwide began cancelling visa interviews starting on March 13, 2020. The Department of State continuously updates the public regarding what posts are opened and closed.

We urge you to consult the relevant Embassy or Consulate’s website or social media pages to determine whether the post is open.

Generally, non-essential in-person appointments and interactions have been suspended. For more information, we ask that you contact us or consult https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/COVID-19-Country-Specific-Information.html

Immigration and Customs Enforcement

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) states to the Chicago Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association that its Enforcement and Removal Operations Field Office and sub-offices (Kansas City, Wichita, Indianapolis and Louisville) would be closed until further notice. The only exceptions depend on the field office or sub-office and the request sought. Paying a bond for a detainee in custody, for instance, is still permissible.

In an earlier statement, ICE national stated that:

“ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) will focus enforcement on public safety risks and individuals subject to mandatory detention based on criminal grounds. For those individuals who do not fall into those categories, ERO will exercise discretion to delay enforcement actions until after the crisis or utilize alternatives to detention, as appropriate.”

ICE national also stated that:

“ICE will not carry out enforcement operations at or near health care facilities, such as hospitals, doctors’ offices, accredited health clinics, and emergent or urgent care facilities, except in the most extraordinary of circumstances. Individuals should not avoid seeking medical care because they fear civil immigration enforcement.”

Customs and Border Protection

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) handles travelers seeking entry into or returning to the United States. Travel to the United States is significantly impacted by COVID-19. On Wednesday, March 20, the U.S. and Canada, and the U.S. and Mexico, announced that the Northern and Southern Borders would be closed to “non-essential” traffic. Non-essential travel is currently defined as “travel that is considered tourism or recreational in nature.”

These decisions, implemented March 21, 2020, will be reviewed by the U.S. and Canada, and the U.S. and Mexico, 30 days after its implementation. The restrictions apply only at land ports of entry between both countries, not to air travel, according to CBP.

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Furthermore, CBP implemented general travel restrictions for Chinese, Iranian, and many European nationals. The travel restrictions also reach to individuals who recently visited these areas. American citizens, lawful permanent residents, and their immediate families are exempt from the ban.

Anyone who is arriving from certain countries or impacted areas must travel through one of 13 airports where DHS has established enhanced entry screening capabilities. Any of these individuals returning from an impacted area must self-quarantine for 14 days after their arrival.

A Final Note from Ibrahim Law Office

We know that these are troubling times around the world. We are aware of how many of our readers have had loved ones fall sick to the virus, lose their jobs, and had their life significantly impacted by it.

Our hope is that you and your loved ones stay calm and safe.

Don’t panic.

Make no mistake: COVID-19 can be deadly.

For the population at large, an infection results in mild to moderate symptoms. However, the fatality rate increases as the patient’s age increases. Those infected who have prior immune system or respiratory issues are also in the same camp. Nonetheless, we ask you to remain calm and commit to prudence. Think about not only of the importance of safeguarding yourself and your family, but to make sure that any risks you take do not pose a threat to others.

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