The answer to this question largely depends on whether you are inside or outside of the United States.
Outside of the US:
- Travel restrictions. Nonimmigrant visa or ESTA holders who have visited China, Iran, or most European countries during the 14 days prior to travel will be barred from entering the US. (Check out this official Fact Sheet for more details.) If this ban applies to you and you attempt to travel, your visa or ESTA may be canceled.
- Suspension of visa services worldwide. As of March 20, 2020, US consulates and embassies worldwide have stopped processing visas until further notice. Appointments scheduled to occur during the shut down will be automatically rescheduled once operations start up again. If you need a new visa to be able to travel to the US, expect lengthy appointment backlogs once the consulates reopen.
- 60-Day Suspension of immigrant visa issuance. As of April 23, 2020, immigrant visas will not be issued to certain categories of applicants for a minimum of 60 days. Please see this blog post for more detail.
- “Non-essential” travel between the US and Canda and Mexico has been shut down. Work visa holders or applicants attempting to cross the border to work in the US have brought back mixed reports of their experiences, with some officers processing work visa entries as usual, and others turning back workers in positions they don’t think are “essential.”
Inside the US:
- USCIS is still accepting all applications, but…
- Premium processing has been indefinitely suspended across the board. This applies to all application types, including all nonimmigrant and green card petitions. USCIS has not given any indication of when they expect to reinstitute it. The impact will be minimal for H1B, E3, TNs, E1, E2, O1, O2, L1 employees renewing a current work visa with the same employer, as workers in these statuses qualify for an automatic 240-day extension of work authorization as soon as an extension petition is filed. Similarly, H1B workers changing employers can utilize H1B portability to start work at the new employer as soon as the new petition is filed. For those who must wait to start working until the petition has been approved, delays of many months are likely.
- USCIS is showing leniency for certain requirements. In acknowledgment of the fact that many people are now working from home without full access to office facilities, USCIS announced it will temporarily start accepting scans or copies of signed forms, instead of requiring the original wet-ink signatures it normally insists on. An additional 60 days will automatically be added to the deadline for any RFE issued in March or April 2020.
- All in-person appointments have been canceled from March 18 until April 7 at the earliest. This includes biometrics appointments, interviews, and oath ceremonies. If you had an appointment scheduled during this window, it will automatically be rescheduled once USCIS resumes in-person services.
- USCIS continually posts updates here.
This situation is changing daily. We’ll continue to update this page to keep you posted! Stay safe, wherever you are.
Looking for details on how coronavirus-related layoffs or furloughs will impact your work visa? Check out this blog post.