It’s strikingly apparent that the current global pandemic of COVID-19 is impacting travel and visa/immigration processes worldwide. As of right now, all USCIS processing centers for visa petitions remain open and functioning. However, all USCIS offices with in-person appointments for interviews or biometrics appointments have been temporarily closed until at least April 1, 2020. Should a partial shutdown of these processes occur, our Immigration team is monitoring what it may mean for your nonimmigrant physicians, nurses and other employees who may need visa extensions of status, and the physicians or nurses who are still abroad awaiting their Immigrant Visa appointments.
The immigration attorneys at Harris Beach are participating in national efforts to appeal to the federal government agencies to enact certain emergency measures due to the COVID-19 virus. We are organizing efforts to contact all relevant government agencies regarding emergency measures that will allow physicians, nurses, and other critical health care employees to remain lawfully in the U.S. and ease some of the visa restrictions on the physicians and nurses who are actively involved in treating patients infected with the virus. We will post updates as to any changes implemented by the government including: easing some of the visa restrictions for health care workers, flexible timeframes for I-9s for all employers, and travel and work site issues for your nonimmigrant workers.
We will keep you updated as our efforts move forward, but among the things being proposed are:
- USCIS: – allow telemedicine practice for J-1 and H-1B physicians, ease restrictions on change of status within the country for J-1/J-2s to O-1
- ECFMG – Allow moonlighting restrictions to be lifted if the work is related to COVID-19 treatment of patients, and allow DS-2019s to be issued to those who have maxed out on J time or have approved waivers
- DOS/WRD: Emergency interviews at Consulates for healthcare workers
We will post updates here as to any changes implemented by the government including easing some of the visa restrictions for health care workers, flexible timeframes for I-9s for all employers, and travel and work site issues for your nonimmigrant workers
As this situation seems to change daily, we will make every effort to keep you updated on the policies and changes in procedure that may impact your critical care workers at this time. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have a specific healthcare worker who needs immediate assistance with his/her status or visa concern. Also, please visit our COVID-19 response page for a comprehensive list of updates, alerts and resources.
Our Immigration Law Practice Group includes immigration attorneys that work across New York state in our Albany, Buffalo, Ithaca, Long Island, New York City, Rochester and Syracuse offices. Our immigration lawyers focus on strategies – including immigrant visas for permanent U.S. resident status and temporary visas for foreign nationals – to ensure that employers are able to hire, transfer, and retain the brightest and best non-U.S. talent.
This alert does not purport to be a substitute for advice of counsel on specific matters.
Harris Beach has offices throughout New York state, including Albany, Buffalo, Ithaca, Melville, New York City, Rochester, Saratoga Springs, Syracuse, Uniondale and White Plains, as well as New Haven, Connecticut and Newark, New Jersey.