WSM COVID-19 Updates: DOS, USCIS, and Travel Restrictions
March 20, 2020
U.S. Embassies and Consulates Suspend Visa Appointments
Today, the U.S. Department of State announced that in response to COVID-19, it is suspending routine visa services at all U.S. embassies and consulates. All routine visa appointments at embassies and consulates will be cancelled as of March 20, 2020. According to their website, embassies and consulates will continue to provide urgent and emergency visa services as their resources allow. Services to U.S. citizens will continue to be available at this time.
USCIS Cancels Biometrics Appointments, AOS Interviews, and Other In-Person Services
As of March 18, 2020, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced that it will suspend routine in-person services until at least April 1 to assist in slowing the spread of COVID-19. In field offices that remain open, USCIS staff will continue to perform duties that do not involve contact with the public. However, for limited situations, USCIS will provide emergency services. To schedule an emergency appointment, contact the USCIS Contact Center.
According to the USCIS website:
USCIS domestic field offices will send notices to applicants and petitioners with scheduled appointments and naturalization ceremonies impacted by this closure. When USCIS again resumes normal operations, USCIS will automatically reschedule Application Support Center appointments due to the office closure. You will receive a new appointment letter in the mail. Individuals who had InfoPass or other appointments at the field office must reschedule through the USCIS Contact Center, once field offices reopen to the public. Please check the USCIS Field Offices page to see if your field office has reopened before reaching out to the USCIS Contact Center.
The USCIS field offices in San Francisco and San Jose in California are currently closed due to a local Stay-in-Place order. These USCIS Application Support Centers in the San Francisco Bay Area are also closed due to the order: Oakland, Salinas, San Francisco San Jose, and Santa Rosa. For specific information about the status of your local field office, visit the USCIS website.
Travel Restrictions for U.S-Canada Border, Australia, and India
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security also announced the temporary restriction for travelers across the U.S.-Canada Land Border, which goes into effect on March 21, 2020. This restriction would prohibit people from crossing the US-Canada border for “non-essential” travel, such as tourism or recreation. Americans or Canadians that cross the land border to do essential work or for urgent reasons will still be allowed to do so. This order will remain in place for 30 days and will then be reviewed by both parties.
Today, a travel ban went into effect in Australia. This will prevent all non-residents and non-Australian citizens from entering the country for the next 30 days. All travelers to Australia are required to self-isolate for 14 days, either in a hotel or at their place of residence.
The Indian government announced it will ban all international flights to India for a week starting Sunday, March 22. This is in addition to previously announced travel bans restricting individuals from the European Union, Turkey and the United Kingdom on March 17, followed by the Philippines, Malaysia and Afghanistan on March 18.