In response to COVID-19, President Trump has issued a proclamation restricting travel to the U.S. from 26 European countries in Schengen area. The restriction is effective March 13, 2020 and is for a period of 30 days. The European travel ban does not include the United Kingdom, Ireland, and certain Eastern European countries outside the Schengen area.
U.S. citizens and U.S. permanent residents may continue to travel to the U.S., but they must travel through 13 CDC-approved airports where they will be screened. Immediate family members (spouse and children) of U.S. citizens and U.S. permanent residents should also be permitted to travel and will be screened.
U.S. citizens traveling abroad should be aware that various other countries have implemented their own restrictions related to COVID-19. The Department of State has created a website containing this country specific information. Specific information on the destination country should be checked prior to traveling internationally.
Several consular posts are cancelling visa appointments and limiting operations due to either confirmed COVID-19 cases or precautionary measures. We expect that additional U.S. embassies and consulates abroad may be impacted by COVID-19. Applicants for visa appointments may expect delays and appointment cancellations. Individuals should take these factors into consideration before traveling. Employees working under the L-1 visa classification who were planning renewals at a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad under the L Blanket, should plan to file renewals with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to avoid possible disruptions in their work continuity.
USCIS is also making arrangements for greater remote work. At this time, USCIS field offices remain open, but closures could be on the horizon. These changes to the normal procedures may impact case processing times, as well as individuals who require in-person interviews.
Gee & Zhang LLP is preparing to manage the impact COVID-19 may have on its normal business operations. We will continue legal services throughout but encourage clients to practice appropriate social distancing when engaging with our office, particularly if they have recently traveled internationally, exhibit symptoms, or believe they may have been exposed to COVID-19. We plan to increase our use of conference calls, video meetings, and remote work in the coming weeks. We value our partnership and seek to minimize the impact on our collaboration. We believe these measures will help reduce health risks to all as we continue to provide high quality legal representation.
If you have any questions about how COVID-19 may impact your business or employees, please contact Gee & Zhang LLP.