Questions Related to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Immigration

Recently, we have received a number of questions relating to the current spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and its effect on immigration cases. This page will be updated with the latest information and Alerts regarding Coronavirus and Immigration.

Below are several questions and our responses to them:

My relative passed her immigrant visa interview in China and received her immigrant visa in her passport. Can she come to the United States now?

Answer: It will depend on your relative’s family circumstances. U.S. President Donald Trump’s January 31, 2020, Presidential Proclamation blocks individuals who have physically been in China (excluding Hong Kong and Macao) within the past 14 days from entering the United States. The Proclamation does not block U.S. citizens, U.S. permanent residents, and certain relatives of U.S. citizens or U.S. permanent residents (for example, spouses and parents or siblings of minor U.S. citizens or U.S. permanent residents), among other exceptions. Although your relative has a valid U.S. immigrant visa, she is not considered to be a U.S. permanent resident until she travels to the U.S. and is admitted as a U.S. permanent resident with a stamp in her passport. Therefore, since she is not yet a U.S. permanent resident, she will not be able to travel to the U.S. from China with her U.S. immigrant visa unless she qualifies under another exception under the Proclamation—for example, she will be exempt from entry restriction if she is the spouse of a U.S. citizen or U.S. permanent resident.

Note, however, that currently all travelers admitted into the United States from China, Iran, and Europe will be directed to one of 13 airports in the U.S., where they will undergo medical screening, and they will also be subject to 14-day home quarantine.

I may have symptoms of the Coronavirus and want to be tested for the Coronavirus / I have been diagnosed with the Coronavirus and need medical treatment. Will this negatively affect my U.S. green card case?

Answer: No. Many immigrants have expressed concern that if they need to be tested for the Coronavirus or need to get medical treatment due to the Coronavirus, they will be considered a “Public Charge” under the U.S. immigration law when they apply for a green card. However, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has specifically stated that testing for or treatment of the Coronavirus will not be considered to be a negative factor under the “Public Charge” analysis. Receiving a vaccine or immunization for the Coronavirus, if and when it becomes available, will also not be considered as a “Public Charge” factor. Finally, USCIS has also stated that even if the testing or medical care for the Coronavirus is provided through federally-funded Medicaid (which would normally be considered a negative factor under the “Public Charge” test), using federally-funded Medicaid will not be considered a negative “Public Charge” factor.

I lost my job or have been laid off because of a medical quarantine or because my employer closed the business due to the Coronavirus. Will I be considered a “Public Charge” because I am unemployed?

Answer: Most likely not. Normally, USCIS will examine your employment status as a factor in the “Public Charge” determination when you apply for a U.S. green card, and being unemployed is generally a negative factor. However, USCIS has stated that green card applicants will be able to submit a written statement and evidence demonstrating that they became unemployed for Coronavirus-related reasons (for example, because their employer closed the business to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus), and that USCIS will consider this explanation in its “Public Charge” analysis, which is supposed to examine the totality of the individual’s circumstances.

I am eligible for and had to apply for government benefits that are considered under the “Public Charge” rule (for example, food stamps, government cash assistance, federally-funded public housing) after I lost my job for reasons related to the Coronavirus. Will I be considered a “Public Charge” when I apply for a green card?

Answer: Most likely not. Although applying for and use of certain public benefits like government cash assistance and food stamps for more than 12 months out of the prior 36 months is a heavily weighted negative factor under the “Public Charge” test, as noted above, USCIS has stated that green card applicants will be able to submit a written statement and evidence explaining the reason they applied for these public benefits. USCIS has stated that it will take into consideration explanations and evidence that are related to the spread of the Coronavirus (for example, the individual lost their job and had to apply for public benefits when their employer closed the business to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus).

My employer laid me off after closing the business in order to slow the spread of the Coronavirus, and my employer told me that I should apply for unemployment benefits. Will applying for unemployment benefits make me a “public charge”?

Answer: No. USCIS will not consider the application for or receipt of unemployment benefits in making a “Public Charge” determination.

My Visa is expiring, with the Cornoavirus how can I renew?

Answer: Listen to Ms. Margaret W Wong’s Podcast

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