Immigration and COVID-19: The Changes to the US Immigration Policies

Are you perhaps a refugee? And are you already in the US without formal documentation while you submit your immigration documents to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)? However, the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has hit US shores.

Thus, the question that begs is what impact will COVID-19 have on your application to immigrate to the United States of America?

What is COVID-19?

Before we look at the answer to this question as provided by Goldstein Immigration Lawyers, let’s look at what COVID-19 is.

The website defines COVID-19 or coronavirus disease in 2019 as a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. The virus that causes COVID-19 is highly contagious and spreads extremely easily and quickly between people.

The World Health Organization’s (WHO) website,, provides a dashboard where they indicate the daily increases in infection numbers as well as the number of people who have died and recovered from the virus.

According to today’s figures, 22 March 2020, there are more than 267 000 confirmed cases across the globe with circa 11 000 deaths. Unfortunately, these numbers are incrementing rapidly. Thus, the WHO has declared it a pandemic.

COVID-19 is challenging to control because it is a new virus and the global population is not immune to it. Secondly, scientists and medical professionals do not know enough about how this virus spreads. What experts do know is that one of the best ways to contain and eradicate this virus is self-isolation. Thus, most of the world’s governments are issuing “remain-in-place” orders. Total lockdown orders have been declared in countries like Italy, Spain, and France, where the virus is totally out of control.

The changes to US immigration policies

The USA is not exempt from COVID-19. Current statistics show that there are 15 2019 confirmed cases with 201 deaths. These figures are expected to rise exponentially with epidemiologists and data scientists predicting far more cases than officially reported.

The possible reasons for this are not necessary for this discussion. The salient point is that the rapid spread of COVID-19 has led to the following sweeping changes to the US immigration policies.

At this juncture, it is vital to note that all of these changes are for the foreseeable future. No end date has been specified. The time it takes for COVID-19 to dissipate is probably the determining factor.

Asylum seekers

Asylum seekers or migrants will no longer be allowed through US borders. The rationale behind this rule is that the US government feels that it is not appropriate to put border guards at risk of being infected by travelers who are contagious. Secondly, most migrants end up in detention facilities. Again, the US federal government is not prepared to risk the spread of COVID-19 throughout these detention camps.

Refugee admissions

The Trump-administration has suspended refugee admissions to the USA. This decision has been primarily influenced by the International Organization for Migration and the UN refugee agency’s decision to suspend resettlement travel until the middle of April 2020.

USCIS services suspended

The USCIS has halted all services that require in-person visitations. All naturalization ceremonies and green card interviews have been discontinued. USCIS will remain open, and staff will perform duties that do not require contact with the public.