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Jun 10, 2020 | Nicolás Ríos

What You Need to Know About How the Coronavirus Affects Visas, Green Cards and Other Immigration Processes

Due to COVID-19 many of the migration processes have changed. Here is a list of the most recent changes that may affect the Latino immigrant community.
  • This article was made based on questions and comments submitted by our WhatsApp community.
  • For more specific cases, check out this Q&A with Claire Thomas, Director of the Asylum Clinic at the New York Law School.

Delays in filing extension/change of status

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced it would be flexible with late applications or visa extensions. Here is all the information.

Visas in process

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) suspended in-person care at its local offices, asylum offices and Application Assistance Centers (ASCs) until at least June 3.


USCIS offices will send notifications to users who have scheduled appointments and will in turn send notifications with the rescheduling.

For more information, the phone number is (800) 375-5283 or visit the agency’s website.

Applications and signatures

All applications must be made digitally, at USCIS’s website. In case you need to send a signed document, the federal government announced that it will accept digital signatures.

This means that a document can be scanned, faxed, copied, or similarly reproduced, as long as the copy is of an original document rather, than the original handwritten signature. Here is the official information.


To the United States:

The State Department suspended all processes for obtaining visas for citizens of other countries to enter the United States. This includes family members, students and tourists.

In this link, the Government will announce when the services will be reopened.

If you are a U.S. citizen and need help re-entering the country, you can call the following numbers:

From the United States and Canada: 1-888-407-4747

From other countries: 1-202-501-4444

From the United States:

If you are not a U.S. citizen, check the emergency care policies for each consulate in New York. This link was prepared by our team.

In addition, many countries around the world have placed entry restrictions on new visitors. Check with the local consulate of the country you’re seeking to visit.

Severance Insurance

If you have your papers to work in the United States and lost your job, here is a guide with everything you need to know to apply.

However, if you do not have your status in order to work in the United States, it is difficult for you to be eligible for unemployment benefits. You can look at the following site for full details on New York State insurance. Link.

If you review the Non-US Residents section, you may find that those who do not have their papers in order are not eligible for the benefit.

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Active court cases (including deportation)

All legal hearings in the non-detained immigration court were postponed, with no date for resuming proceedings. The courts are only receiving documents.

Visit the Department of Justice’s website to see updates on these cases and the operations performed in each court.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement

The agency leading federal deportation operations announced that it will only focus on immigrants who present “public safety risks and those subject to mandatory criminal detention.

Also, New York State prohibits the release of patient records from the health care system to federal authorities. Therefore, any undocumented immigrants who present themselves for a Coronavirus test will not be reported to ICE by state authorities.

Legal aid

Many organizations are providing legal support at this time of emergency.

The best way to find out who can help you in your area is to search this website, which provides a search engine for legal aid organizations based on your zip code.

Public charge

The Public Charge rule does not apply to receive testing and treatment for Coronavirus. Here is the link to the official information.


The federal government announces tax deadlines were delayed to July 15.

I’m a tourist in the U.S. and I can’t leave

You could be subject to an extension of your visa. To apply you must fill out form I-539. This link explains the costs, times and necessary documentation.

You can also check the USCIS site for more information on special situations.


  • ActionNYC is a citywide initiative that provides free, safe and confidential legal help on immigration for New Yorkers. If you have any questions or concerns about immigration status, including changes related to COVID-19, call 800-354-0365 between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, or call 311 and say “ActionNYC.”
  • The NYC Office of Civil Justice provides free legal services to New Yorkers who need them, including tenants, immigrants, low-income workers and other New Yorkers who are facing civil legal challenges. Visit the NYC Office of Civil Justice website for more information.

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