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The Immigration Observer

Travel Restrictions in Response to Coronavirus (COVID-19) Outbreak

March 03, 2020 | Lepore Taylor Fox

In the wake of the outbreak of COVID-19 around the world and in the U.S., the Trump administration implemented certain travel restrictions in an effort to limit the entry of individuals who may have been exposed to the virus. Initially, on January 31, 2020, President Trump issued a proclamation limiting entry of certain holders of nonimmigrant and immigrant visas who may have been present on the territory of mainland China 14 days preceding their intended entry to the United States.   In a proclamation dated February 29, 2020, travel restrictions were extended to nonimmigrants and holders of immigrant visas physically present on the territory of the Islamic Republic of Iran within 14 days of the projected entry to the United States.

There are a number of exceptions to the coronavirus-related travel limitations, such that the following individuals are not affected:

  • Lawful permanent residents of the United States (i.e. green card holders);
  • Spouses of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident;
  • Parents or legal guardians of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, provided that the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident is unmarried and under the age of 21;
  • Siblings of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, provided that both are unmarried and under the age of 21;
  • Children, foster children, or wards of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, or prospective adoptees seeking to enter the United States pursuant to the IR-4 or IH-4 visa classifications;
  • Foreign nationals traveling to the United States at the invitation of the United States Government for a purpose related to containment or mitigation of the virus;
  • Nonimmigrants under section 101(a)(15)(C) or (D) of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(15)(C) or (D), as a crewmember or any alien otherwise traveling to the United States as air or sea crew;
  • Nonimmigrants on an A-1, A-2, C-2, C-3 (as a foreign government official or immediate family member of an official), G-1, G-2, G-3, G-4, NATO-1 through NATO-4, or NATO-6 visa;
  • Foreign nationals whose entry would not pose a significant risk of introducing, transmitting, or spreading the virus, as determined by the CDC Director, or his designee;
  • Foreign nationals whose entry would further important United States law enforcement objectives, as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their respective designees based on a recommendation of the Attorney General or his designee; or
  • Foreign nationals whose entry would be in the national interest, as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their designees. 

U.S. citizens and any individuals falling within one of the above exceptions who have been physically present in countries affected by the outbreak (such as China, Italy, Iran, South Korea) within 14 days of return to the United States may be quarantined.

The Department of State’s Office of Academic Exchanges has provided information for exchange visitors holding J visa status whose travel, and therefore the ability to timely leave the United States upon conclusion of their J-1 stay, may be affected by COVID-19. USCIS has broad discretion to extend or change status of foreign nationals present in the United States where the foreign national cannot depart the United States at the appropriate time due to extreme circumstances. For additional information, please visit https://www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/special-situations and contact Lepore Taylor Fox for assistance.


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Due to the growing health emergency caused by COVID-19 (coronavirus) and the directives of our local government officials, our offices are operating on a remote working model.  We wish to assure you that the Firm is still fully operational and able to process your case to the extent possible within the parameters of local business and government office closures.

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