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Immigration During COVID-19—FAQs Answered

The COVID-19 pandemic has given the Trump Administration deleterious opportunities to further its anti-immigration tactics: the new public charge ruling has many immigrants avoiding medical care and other vital services due to a fear of being denied permanent resident status in the United States; ICE detention centers have become a petri dish for the coronavirus and continue to place detained individuals and families’ health at risk; legal immigrants have been left out of the government-issued stimulus checks due to their marital status with an undocumented immigrant—financial assistance that is desperately needed during this time of immense job loss, income loss, and uncertainty. 

On July 17th, 2020, NYLAG held a live Q&A session discussing travel and extending B1/B2 Visas, court reopenings, and more. You can view the pre-recorded video and answers to some FAQs below.

Below are some of the FAQs Answered:

  • If you overstay your visa without applying for an extension, you may accrue unlawful presence which can ban you from reentering the United States in the future for some time. If your visa has already expired, but you could not renew due to exigent circumstances, or if your visa has not expired yet, you should file for an extension. USCIS issued a press release with options for nonimmigrants who may unexpectedly remain in the U.S. beyond their authorized period of stay due to COVID-19. Per USCIS, most individuals can file Extension of Stay/Change of Stay applications, and Visa Waiver Program entrants can request an additional 30-day period of satisfactory departure.
  • If you need urgent care due to COVID-19 related illness, seek treatment. ICE says that it will not detain anyone at a healthcare facility due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Moreover, many COVID-19 testing sites do not require proof of residence, insurance, or immigration status to receive testing. If you need more information about testing or have questions regarding city services during the pandemic, please visit: https://www1.nyc.gov/site/coronavirus/index.page
  • USCIS will temporarily accept reproduced original signatures, including scans and copies of your signature. For applications that require them, photos are still necessary. However, there are ways to take your photos and print them safely via your smartphones or tablets. Contact a NYLAG attorney if you are preparing an application and are unsure of the requirements. We may be able to offer advice and application assistance.
  • Possibly, but not right now. Practitioners need more time to learn if these initial applications will be accepted. As a result of the Supreme Court ruling on June 18, 2020, USCIS should accept initial DACA applications from those who have never had this status. Because of previous litigation, however, it is possible that an injunction blocking these new requests needs to be lifted before initial DACA applications and advance parole requests are accepted. The USCIS website has not been updated to show that they will accept these new requests which indicate that initial filings may be rejected or denied. Recently, some practitioners have also reported that initial DACA applications mailed after the Supreme Court decision were rejected. Therefore, practitioners need more time to determine how to proceed with initial DACA applications.
  • You can use the link provided below to schedule an intake with the ActionNYC team from NYLAG and the Arab American Association. The team is actively scheduling intakes and can answer your questions, offer application assistance, and provide referrals.

Sign up for a screening here: https://forms.gle/m1Di5RLgC3aqNu4g8

For more information and assistance on immigration during COVID-19, click here

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