Has COVID-19 Made Immigration more Difficult?

The challenges that face immigrants to the United States have always been affected by the nation’s political winds, and the last few years have been no exception. While the Trump administration’s hardline stance on refugees and asylum seekers had already made immigration extremely difficult, the situation was exacerbated by the global pandemic. While the Biden administration has loosened many of the restrictions imposed by its predecessor, the effects of COVID-19 have been harder to shake, as the virus has impacted almost every aspect of the process.

The most immediate issue has been the near standstill to any visitors entering the United States along either the Mexican or Canadian border. Even citizens have been limited in their ability to travel, and entry for asylum seekers and unaccompanied children has been severely restricted. At the same time, the administrative offices that process paperwork, conduct interviews, and even those responsible for enforcement actions against the undocumented have been interrupted, and many immigration court hearings were suspended This means that those who are being held in immigration detention centers are at higher risk for exposure as they continue to be subjected to crowded conditions. Making matters harder for those who are in the United States awaiting decisions on their immigration application is the fact that they were not included in the legislative relief passed by Congress.

From the time in February of 2020 when travel restrictions were placed on individuals where COVID-19 epidemics were occurring through today, it has become much more difficult to travel to the United States, and routine visa services have been severely curtailed. This means that fewer people have been processing employment-based and family-based immigrant visas and applicants for nonimmigrant visas for visitors, students, and skilled workers. While H-2 visa applications for temporary agricultural workers and emergency visa appointments continued to be processed, new rules were put into place through 2020 that suspended immigrants so that jobs could be maintained for U.S. citizens.

Between the restrictions placed on travel, the suspension of immigration processing inside the United States, and the slowdown of the immigration court system, the entire system dealing with immigrants has become even more difficult than it already was. If you or a loved one needs help with navigating these challenges, having an experienced attorney to represent you will put you in the best possible position for success. To speak with one of our experienced immigration lawyers, contact us today to set up a time for a consultation.