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2022 COVID UPDATES


Entering the U.S. via Air Travel

Q: What are the COVID vaccination requirements for air passengers to the United States?

A: According to CDC requirements, prior to boarding a flight to the United States, all non-U.S. citizen, non-U.S. immigrants must be fully vaccinated. These travelers are required to show proof of being fully vaccinated against COVID-19, as well as show a negative COVID-19 test result or documentation of recovery. The timing of the test depends on vaccination status and age. Limited exceptions apply. For more information on this requirement, please visit the CDC International Travel webpage. Masks are required.

Q: What are the COVID testing requirements for air passengers to the United States?

A: Since December 6, 2021 travel requirements have changed asking all air passengers, regardless of vaccination status, must show a negative COVID-19 test taken no more than 1 day before travel to the United States. (Dec ’21)

  • Use this interactive site to determine if you country is permitted to enter – SHERPA Their map has been kept up to date as far as we are aware.
  • US Embassy and Consulate Offices around the globe are open, with cautionary measures determined by local policy. Check your local US office.
  • Transit through a travel-banned country traveling through to the United States may cause problems. If possible fly directly to the USA.

USCIS RESPONSE COVID HERE

  • President Biden has announced immigration overhauls – we are keeping the site updated.
  • Lockbox facility receipt notices are currently delayed.
  • Face mask is required when visiting any USCIS facility.
  • Foreign nationals requiring travel visas should be aware that there are backlogs and delays at U.S. consulates and embassies worldwide because of the pandemic.
  • Non-immigrant visa processing is prioritized below U.S. citizen and immigrant services by the State Department.
  • U.S. workers on visas are reminded to continue to make flexible travel plans and provide ample time to complete their paperwork due to the reduced capacity of consular operations and ever-changing eligibility criteria.
  • Visa appointments may be cancelled with little to no notice due to pandemic-related staffing issues.
  • Green Card production is still active 2022.

Lawful Permanent Resident Status

USCIS recognizes that if you are a lawful permanent resident (LPR, Green Card Holder) who traveled outside of the United States and are or were subject to COVID-19-related travel restrictions, you may have concerns about the effect of an extended absence from the United States.

If you were delayed in returning from a trip outside of the United States due to unforeseen circumstances, such as COVID-19-related travel restrictions, the trip generally retains its temporary character and USCIS will not consider your LPR status abandoned as long as you always intended to return as soon as the original purpose of the visit was completed. For more information, see USCIS Policy Manual Volume 12, Part D, General Naturalization Requirements, Chapter 2, Lawful Permanent Residence Admission for Naturalization.

Generally, if you are seeking to return to the United States after temporary foreign travel of less than one year, you may use your valid Form I-551, Permanent Resident Card, (also known as a Green Card) as a travel document. If you are seeking to return to the United States after temporary foreign travel of a year or more, you must present a Form I-327, Permit to Reenter, (also known as a reentry permit) or a Returning Resident (SB-1) immigrant visa. If you have been outside of the United States for a year or more without a reentry permit or beyond the validity of your reentry permit, you should consider contacting the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate to discuss your situation. For more information, visit the U.S. Department of State website.


O-1 Visa Applicants – Please Note

Most consulates had resumed routine nonimmigrant visa appointments since November 8, 2021. Check with your local consulate as this may now have changed. Since December 23rd, 2021 the Department of State authorized consular officers to waive the in-person interview requirement for certain categories of visa applicants through 31 December 2022. This applies to non-blanket O and P visa holders who were previously issued any type of visa (including an ESTA), if applying for a visa in their country of nationality or residence. This does not apply to applicants who have a previous refusal that was not subsequently waived. Adjudicating consular officers may request an in-person interview if additional information is required from you.

If you intend to enter on a ‘blanket O-1’ you may still be called to interview.

Applicants renewing any visa within 48 months of expiration also continue to be eligible for interview waiver.

For more information see: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/News/visas-news/important-announcement-on-waivers-of-the-interview-requirement-for-certain-nonimmigrant-visas.html

*It is now not necessary to prove “national interest exception” as travel restrictions was lifted in November.

Check to see if your country is listed as a travel banned country. If this is an issue consider entering through a non-travel-banned country where the U.S. embassy is open and processing temporary visas eg Mexico or Canada. It is important that you document your arrival and your 14-day stay before your appointment. An appointment should be arranged for visa processing at this non-travel banned country on or after day 15 following arrival. When the visa is in your passport, fly directly to the United States. Check to make sure you have the correct visa for the country you are interviewing in. Transit through a travel-banned country triggers the ban and the visa holder will be banned from traveling through the transit country to the United States. Remember the role of the inspectors at ports of entry to decide whether to allow you to enter the United States using that visa. Customs and Border Protection is the agency that may refuse someone entry if he or she is subject to the travel ban – if they have been in one of the affected regions during the 14 days before seeking entry to the United States. You should have proof of upcoming work in the USA as proof that travel is necessary.

Extension of Stay/Change of Status Filing Delays Caused by Extraordinary Circumstances Related to COVID-19

Generally, O1 holders must depart the US before their visa date expiry. However, the USCIS recognizes that this may currently be impossible. You should apply for an extension or change of status in advance. The following options are available:

Apply for an Extension. Timely file an application for extension of stay (EOS) or change in status (COS). USCIS continues to accept and process applications and petitions.

If You File in a Timely Manner. Generally you may not accrue unlawful presence while the timely-filed, non-frivolous EOS/COS application is pending. Where applicable, employment authorization with the same employer, subject to the same terms and conditions of the prior approval, is automatically extended for up to 240 days after I-94 expiration when an extension of stay request is filed on time.


Currently in the US and cannot leave?

USCIS continues to accept and process timely applications for Extension of Stay (EOS) or Change in Status (COS) applications and petitions during COVID. Note that the USCIS considers the internal US ‘open’ since March 2021 and so might not be as lenient as before.
The USCIS have stated where applicable, employment authorization with the same employer, subject to the same terms and conditions of the prior approval, is automatically extended for up to 240 days after I-94 expiration when an extension of stay request is filed on time. If Biometrics are required they will more than likely re-use your last Biometrics on file.


Use new Forms released by USCIS for I-485 and I-129 dated April, 2021

EB-1 applicants subject to the immigration medical examination must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before the civil surgeon can complete an immigration medical examination and sign Form I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record.

USCIS are temporarily extending the validity period for Form I-693 from two years to now four years due to COVID-19-related delays in processing.

USCIS is revising Form I-485 in collaboration with Social Security Administration to include the additional questions needed to apply for an SSN or a replacement Social Security card.

USCIS have upgraded their payment methods.