The Coronavirus pandemic has disrupted immigration to the United States, leaving many in doubt over whether they can travel to or return to the United States. When the President first announced the travel restrictions from Europe, he did not state whether U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents were included in the restrictions. Out of fear many to bought exorbitant airline tickets and waited for hours in line at crowded airports racing to return to the U.S. before the restrictions took effect.
In this uncertain time it is hard to keep up with all the announcements being made as to the Coronavirus COVID-19 and travel, coming to and leaving the United States. The Center for Disease Control is even warning people about travel within the United States and the effect it may have on travelers and their loved ones once they return home.
It's hard to believe the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic has already been happening for over a month, but it was on January 31, 2020 that President Trump signed a proclamation banning the entry of foreigners who were present in China, Hong Kong, or Macau for 14 or more days prior to their attempted entry into the United States.
As the Coronavirus has infected more and more people in more and more countries, the impact it has had on travel has been immense – airlines have been harder hit from the Coronavirus than from the fallout after 9/11.
In the time since President Trump's January 31st proclamation, three more proclamations have taken place, suspending travel from 29 additional countries, and things are changing every day:
- On February 29th a second presidential proclamation was signed- suspending entry of foreigners entering the United States from Iran.
- On March 11th the President signed a proclamation suspending travel from the 26 countries that make up the Schengen Area, an area without border checkpoints, where people may freely flow between nations. The Schengen Area is comprised of the following nations: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.
- On March 14th it was announced that the European travel ban would be extended to include the United Kingdom and Ireland.
Do the Travel Restrictions Affect U.S. citizens, Permanent Residents, and Non-Immigrant Visa Holders?
Although there were many questions after the initial travel ban announcements, the United States has made clear that U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (LPRs), and their immediate family members are not subject to the proclamations. U.S. citizens and LPRs and their immediate family members will be allowed into the country but may be subject to quarantines or self-quarantines depending on where they have traveled from.
It is unclear how all visa holders attempting to enter the United States will be affected, but the proclamations gave a clear exemption for those holding C-1, D, or C-1/D nonimmigrant visas, A-1, A-2, C-2, C-3 (as a foreign government official or immediate family member of an official), E-1 (as an employee of TECRO or TECO or the employee's immediate family members), and G-1, G-2, G-3, G-4, NATO-1 through.
For an exhaustive list of the Proclamations' exemptions list, visit the Whitehouse website.
U.S. Embassies Canceling Visa Interviews Due to Coronavirus Pandemic
In addition, due to the corona virus pandemic we are seeing many U.S. embassies around the world, not located in a travel restricted area, cancel visa interviews, with no clear process of rescheduling these interviews. If you have an upcoming visa interview at a U.S. embassy and are unsure about the status of the interview, you may contact a qualified immigration attorney.