Coronavirus or Covid 19, whatever you call it…its messing things up! Status options for those in the United States
Dev Banad Viswanath, Esq.
We already discussed how this pandemic has disrupted visa processing through consulates…. Indefinite visa suspension at most US consular posts. But now the question remains, what options are available for people already in the United States.
There are some folks that have approved immigrant petitions. For example I-130 petitions, I-140 petitions, and if the visa numbers are available, people who initially wanted to file for an immigrant visa because of their schedules and conveniences, may now consider whether they are eligible and can file for adjustment of status (I-485 applications). Adjustment of Status is a perfectly reasonable way to continue the path towards lawful permanent residence for those already in the United States. Any person that is caught in a dilemma of how to continue to process their permanent residence can consider whether they are eligible for adjustment of status. Also, immigrant visa processing is also continuing with the National Visa Center. So if your estimates are about 9 months to 1 year away on an interview then you can continue to do your visa processing through the NVC, but understand that since no visa appointments can be scheduled at the moment, down the road applicants may need to redo their police clearance certificates and medical evaluations and possibly add for current tax information for the affidavit of support documents.
Also, for parents for US Citizens, they are immediate relatives and may not require an interview in order to get their green card through adjustment of status. Therefore, those individuals being filed by their children can continue to do so and may in fact get their green card without any coronavirus delay. And for people who would like to file for their I-751 Removal of Condition applications and N-400 Naturalization Applications, those applications are continuing as usual. But no interviews will be scheduled in the near future. Given the time lines for processing no interviews will be scheduled for many months anyway, so starting the process now is perfectly fine. These are petitions and applications that are perfectly fine to be filed at anytime.
For those in less permanent situations, we can consider Extensions of Status and Change of Status to other visa categories or to maintain the current status. In fact, there are many people who may be in the US on a B1 or B2 Visitor Visa but who cannot travel, and for those individuals, filing for an extension may be prudent. Or for individuals who have used up the maximum amount of time on their current visa/status, a change of status may be a very viable option to allow them to stay.
In fact, we are seeing many B2, F1, OPT, J1, H1, and L1 status holders whom are in need to file for and extension of status or for a change to another visa category in order to remain in legal status and authorized stay. All of these options are readily available and almost never require an interview so there are no delays.
If you or a loved one have any concerns of your visa status or would like to take action to protect yourself, please consult with an experience and knowledgeable attorney.