Immigration Measures in Response to COVID-19

Updated May 26, 2020 @ 4:15pm

Public health measures including office closures, travel restrictions, and other steps in response to COVID-19 have affected many aspects of immigration legal and administrative proceedings and functions. The list below covers changes as of the time and date of the update stamp above to the following areas:

For the full text of the proclamation:

  • Whose entry is suspended by this Proclamation?
    • This proclamation suspends the entry of immigrants into the USA if: 1)They are outside of the USA on the effective date of the proclamation, 2) do not have a valid immigrant visa on the effective date of the proclamation, and 3) do not have an official travel document other than a visa that is valid on the effective date of the proclamation or issued thereafter that permits travel to the USA and seek entry or admission. The proclamation provides examples of official travel documents including a transportation later, a boarding foil, or an advance parole document.
  • Exceptions: Who is not suspended from entering the USA by this Proclamation?
    • Any Lawful Permanent Residents;
    • Anyone with an immigrant visa as a physician, nurse, or other healthcare professional; to perform medical research or other research intended to combat the spread of COVID-19; or to perform work essential to combating, recovery from, or otherwise alleviating the effects of COVID-19; and their spouse and unmarried children under 21 years of age.
    • Applicants of the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program;
    • Anyone who is married to a U.S. citizen;
    • Children under 21 years of age of a U.S. citizen; anyone who is under 21 years of age who is a prospective adoptee under the IR-4 or IH-4 visa classifications;
    • Anyone whose entry would further important U.S. law enforcement objectives, as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their respective designees, based on a recommendation of the Attorney General or his designee;
    • Any member of the U.S. Armed Forces and their spouse and children;
    • Anyone with a Special Immigrant Visa of the SI or SQ classification and their spouse and children;
    • Anyone whose entry  would be in the national interest, as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their respective designees.

  • Implementation and Enforcement:
      • Consular officers have the discretion to determine whether an immigrant meets the eligibility requirement for an exception. The Secretary of State will implement the proclamation as it applies to visas. The Secretary of Homeland Security will implement the proclamation as it applies to the entry of immigrants.
      • Any immigrant who circumvents the application of the proclamation through fraud, willful misrepresentation of a material fact, or illegal entry shall be a priority for removal.
      • This proclamation does not limit the ability of an individual to seek asylum, refugee status, withholding of removal, or protection under the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
  • Effective Date and Duration: This proclamation is effective at 11:59 p.m. eastern daylight time on April 23, 2020 and remains in effect for 60 days. However, the President also directs the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, and the Secretary of Labor, to make recommendations to him as to whether to continue or modify this Proclamation no later than 50 days from the effective date.
  • Additional Measures: The President has also asked the Secretary of Labor, the Secretary of Homeland Security, and the Secretary of State, to review nonimmigrant programs and make recommendations to him within 30 days of the effective date of the proclamation. [Stay tuned as this could impact our clients, i.e. our U and T visa clients as both are types of nonimmigrant status].

  • Currently, most of our clients are in the USA and applying for nonimmigrant status or adjusting their status within the USA. So, they should not be impacted by this particular proclamation. Also, this does not affect U visa and T visa derivatives abroad as they are applying for nonimmigrant visas but current consulate and embassy closures due to COVID-19 are already making it impossible for them to consular process at this time. I think this may possibly impact derivatives abroad of clients who adjusted their status following the approval of their VAWA Self-Petitions, but again current consulate closures make it impossible for them to consular process anyways. If you have such a case, contact our Regional Immigration Unit.
  • AILA and AIC’s summary of the proclamation:
  • ASISTA’s Blog Post on Impact of Proclamation on Immigrant Survivors:


  •  Applicants and petitioners with scheduled appointments (i.e. I-751 Petitions/Waivers, adjustment, and naturalization interviews) and naturalization ceremonies will receive notices with new appointments.
  • Individuals who had InfoPass or other appointments must reschedule through the USCIS Contact Center (see above). Please check to verify that the relevant Field Office has reopened before contacting the USCIS Contact Center.
  • Field offices in the SF Bay Area closed at least until 06/04/2020 due to Shelter-in-Place orders: San Jose and San Francisco.
  • Local guidance issued on 03/17/2020: Requests for Evidences that are due during the closure for the San Francisco or San Jose Field Offices will have a one-month extension.

  • Asylum interviews will be automatically rescheduled.
  • Asylum applicants will receive 1) a cancellation notice of the affected interview appointment and 2) a new interview notice with the new time, date and location for the interview.
  • Asylum Office Locator:
  • Asylum office in the SF Bay Area closed at least until 06/04/2020 due to a Shelter-in-Place order: San Francisco.

  •  Closed until further notice.
  • USCIS will automatically reschedule ASC appointments (i.e. biometric appointments) and send out new appointment letters in the mail once it resumes normal operations.
  • ASCs in California closed at least until 06/04/2020 due to the Shelter-In-Place orders: Oakland, San Jose, Santa Rosa, San Francisco, and Salinas.

  • USCIS Forms & Instructions: USCIS forms and instructions are available at and on Lawyaw under “Federal Forms.” If you use Lawyaw, make sure that you are using a version that is accepted by USCIS. Look at the edition date of the form and verify the acceptable edition dates for that form on USCIS’ website.
  • Flexibility around “wet” signatures on USCIS forms during the COVID-19 National Emergency:
    • USCIS will accept all benefit forms and documents with electronically reproduced original signatures for submissions dated March 21, 2020, and throughout the duration of the National Emergency, even for forms that normally require an original “wet” signature per their form instructions.
    • Electronically reproduced original signatures: A document may be scanned, faxed, photocopied, or similarly reproduced provided that the copy must be of an original document containing an original handwritten signature. 
    • Individuals or entities that submit documents bearing an electronically reproduced original signature must also retain copies of the original documents containing the “wet” signature.  USCIS may, at any time, request the original documents, which if not produced, could negatively impact the adjudication of the immigration benefit.
  • Extensions to Responding to Certain USCIS Requests:
    •  For applicants and petitioners who  receive a Request for Evidence (RFE), Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID), Notice of Intent to Revoke (NOIR), Notice of Intent to Terminate (NOIT) or appealable decision within AAO jurisdiction and the issuance date listed on the request, notice or decision is between March 1, 2020 and July 1, 2020, inclusive.
    • Any response to an RFE, NOID, NOIR, or NOIT received within 60 calendar days after the response due date set in the request or notice will be considered by USCIS before any action is taken. Any Form I-290B received up to 60 calendar days from the date of the decision will be considered by USCIS before it takes any action.
  • Reuse of Biometrics for Processing of Pending I-765 applications for extensions of Employment Authorization Documents
    • Applicants who had an appointment scheduled with an ASC on or after the March 18 closure or who filed an I-765 extension will have their application processed using previously submitted biometrics.  This will remain in effect until ASCs resume normal operations.
  • COVID-19 Delays in Extension/Change of Status Filings:
    • On 04/13/2020, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced steps that nonimmigrants should take if they were experiencing challenges due to COVID-19. Generally, nonimmigrants must depart the United States before their authorized period of admission expires. However, DHS recognized that nonimmigrants may unexpectedly remain in the United States beyond their authorized period of stay due to COVID-19. Should this occur, the following options are available for nonimmigrants:
      • Apply for an Extension. Most nonimmigrants can mitigate the immigration consequences of COVID-19 by timely filing an application for extension of stay (EOS) or change in status (COS). USCIS continues to process these filings. 
      • If You File in a Timely Manner. Nonimmigrants generally do not accrue unlawful presence while the timely-filed, non-frivolous EOS/COS application is pending.  Where applicable, employment authorization with the same employer, subject to the same terms and conditions of the prior approval, is automatically extended for up to 240 days after I-94 expiration when an extension of stay request is filed on time.
      • Flexibility for Late Applications. USCIS can consider delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic when deciding whether to excuse delays in filing documents based on extraordinary circumstances. Under current regulations and on USCIS’ Special Situations page, if a petitioner or applicant files an extension of stay or change of status request (on Forms I-129 or I-539) after the authorized period of admission expires, USCIS, in its discretion, may excuse the failure to file on time if it was due to extraordinary circumstances beyond their control, such as those that may be caused by COVID-19. The length of delay must be commensurate with the circumstances. The petitioner or applicant must submit credible evidence to support their request, which USCIS will evaluate on a case-by-case basis. These special situations have been used at various times in the past, including for natural disasters and similar crises.
        • Please see 8 CFR 214.1(c)(4) and 8 CFR 248.1(c) for additional information on late requests to extend or change status. In addition, please see Form I-129 (Petition for a nonimmigrant worker) and Form I-539 (Application to Extend/Change Status) pages for specific filing and eligibility requirements for extensions of stay and changes of status.
      • Flexibility for Visa Waiver Entrants. Visa Waiver Program (VWP) entrants are not eligible to extend their stay or change status. However, under current regulations, if an emergency (such as COVID-19) prevents the departure of a VWP entrant, USCIS in its discretion may grant a period of satisfactory departure for up to 30 days. Please see 8 CFR 217.3(a). For those VWP entrants already granted satisfactory departure and unable to depart within this 30-day period because of COVID-19 related issues, USCIS has the authority to temporarily provide an additional 30-day period of satisfactory departure. To request satisfactory departure from USCIS, a VWP entrant should call the USCIS Contact Center.


For updated information on court closures, restrictions on hearings, and filing information, see

On 04/03/2020, EOIR published a guidance, PM-20-11, updating its policies concerning signatures on filings: Beginning March 31, the agency will accept filings with digital or electronically reproduced signatures, rather than requiring immigration court filings to have “wet ink,” or original signatures.  The policy applies to filings submitted electronically, by mail or in person. Attorneys can also continue to submit documents with original ink signatures if they wish.

As of 3/27/2020, most immigration courts are still open but some with restrictions on filings/and types of hearings heard. San Francisco remains open with limited functions (see below).

Immigration Courts in San Francisco remain open but with limited functions—filings and detained hearings only:

  • Hearings for detained individuals are going forward at 630 Sansome Street.
  • Montgomery Street location: As of 04/03/2020, Montgomery Street location is reopened for filings. 
  • Sansome Street location:
    • As of 04/03/2020, Sansome Street location is opened. Sansome Street location is no longer accepting filings for the Montgomery Street location. 
    • As of 04/22/2020, Effective Wednesday, April 22, 2020 the building at 630 Sansome Street, San Francisco, CA 94111 has required a mandate for all visitors to wear face masks when transiting and remaining in the common building areas, such as lobby, hallways, stairwells, etc. If someone wants to obtain entry and is not in compliance, they will not be authorized entry into the building by the Protective Service Officers.  If someone is observed not complying with the mandate, FPS can treat it as a violation of Section 41 CFR 102-74.385 (Conformity with Signs and Directions) and remove the person from the facility and issue a federal magistrate citation. San Francisco City has already mandated the public to wear face coverings when they are outside of their homes for essential needs.
    • EOIR further clarified that the courtrooms are not considered common shared areas, though an IJ can ask parties to wear a face mask, if they deem the need, especially if there is more than one attorney present in the courtroom (masters/bonds).The VTC room is not considered a common shared area.
  • As of 5/15/2020, all hearings for non-detained individuals are being automatically continued through June 12th, 2020. Written notices of new hearings will be mailed out.
  • Case status and hearing date information in EOIR’s automated case information application at and hotline at 1-800-898-7180 may not be updated for those cases postponed due to operational changes during the coronavirus pandemic. Abide by the written notices with new hearing dates sent in the mail.
  • To report changes in contact information – address/phone number since last immigration court hearing:
    • Complete form EOIR-33 available at .
    • Make three copies. Send one copy to the court at 100 Montgomery Street, Suite 800, San Francisco, CA 94104. Send one copy to DHS at 100 Montgomery Street, Suite 200, San Francisco, CA 94104. Keep a copy for your records.
  • Electronic Filing Address:
  • As of 04/24/2020, EOIR San Francisco issued a new standing order regarding filings via email that can be found here:
    • This standing order supersedes the general electronic filing instructions.
    • Except for asylum applications, there is a three-month temporal limit on filings via email, meaning if you are going to use email to file a pleading or motion, you cannot file more than three month in advance of the scheduled hearing. Otherwise, use the US Postal Service or overnight delivery system. 
    • Filings through email are limited to 100 pages including the caption page, the proposed order, and the proof of service. 
    • The standing order contains instructions on how to label the subject line correctly.
    • Asylum applications are exempt from the three-month temporal limit on filings through email and will be considered filed on the date of receipt for purposes of the one-year filing deadline. 
  • To get updates, follow @DOJ_EOIR on Twitter.

  • As of 04/07/2020,  EOIR has established two temporary email accounts for limited filings for both detained and non-detained cases pending before the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA). The BIA will accept only Briefs, Motions to Accept a Late Filed Brief, Motions for Summary Affirmance, and, if new to the case, courtesy copies of the Form EOIR-27. Please also submit Form EOIR-27s electronically through EOIR’s Courts & Appeals System. Guidelines for filing are available here: Failure to follow the guidelines may result in the rejection of your submitted document filing. If your submission is rejected, you will be notified by mail. Please note EOIR cannot provide technical support at this time. If you have questions, please contact the EOIR Office of Policy, Communications and Legislative Affairs Division at


  • Enforcement Actions from March 18, 2020 and until further notice:
    • Enforcement actions will focus on those individuals who pose a public safety risk and are “subject to mandatory detention based on criminal grounds.”
    • For other individuals, ERO will exercise discretion to delay enforcement actions until after the crisis or use alternatives to detention. 
    • Consistent with its sensitive locations policy, during the COVID-19 crisis, ICE will not carry out enforcement operations at or near health care facilities, such as hospitals, doctors’ offices, accredited health clinics, and emergent or urgent care facilities, except in the most extraordinary of circumstances. 
    • Individuals should not avoid seeking medical care because they fear civil immigration enforcement.
  • Homeland Security Investigations (HSI): 
    • HSI will continue to carry out mission critical criminal investigations and enforcement operations as determined necessary to maintain public safety and national security, including investigations into child exploitation, gangs, narcotics trafficking, human trafficking, human smuggling, and continued participation on the Joint Terrorism Task Force. 
    • See also

  • General Information on Stays of Removal:
    • ICE will temporarily permit the filing of Form I-246, “Application for Stay of Deportation or Removal” through the mail accompanied by money orders, certified, funds, or requests for fee waivers of only.
    • See for latest version of Form I-246.
  • General Information on ICE Check-ins:
    • Immigrants released from the Southwest Border will now be scheduled for initial reporting to a local field office 60 days after release (rather than 30 days or less).
    • Individuals should contact their local office for additional guidance prior to their scheduled appointment.
  • General Information on Bonds:
    • ICE will limit the acceptance of bonds to locations with “bond windows” or other barriers to limit exposure to staff.
    • Generally, only the individual appearing to post the bonds will be permitted to enter the office. Anyone accompanying such individuals, including children accompanied by another adult, will be asked by security not to enter the building.
  • General information on Detention:
    • ICE has temporarily suspended social visitation in all of its detention facilities. 
    • ICE will take steps to facilitate communication with families, in the absence of visitation, through extended access to telephones and other reasonable means. 
    • Non-contact legal visitation, to include the Legal Orientation Program, will continue to be permitted. In order to safeguard visitors, detainees, and ICE and facility staff, official visitors may be subject to special screening and procedures. ICE may impose additional requirements, such as mandating that visitors wear protective equipment.
    • As of 04/08/2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, ICE is reviewing cases of individuals in detention who may be vulnerable to the virus, using CDC guidance along with the advice of medical professionals. Decisions to release individuals in ICE custody are made on a case-by-case basis. ICE also has instructed its field offices to further assess and consider for release certain individuals deemed to be at greater risk of exposure, consistent with CDC guidelines, reviewing cases of individuals 60 years old and older and those who are pregnant. Efforts to identify other individuals who may be more vulnerable to COVID-19, based on other risk factors identified by the CDC, are ongoing. ICE continues to re-evaluate all individuals in custody who make up vulnerable populations.  When making such decisions, ICE officers weigh a variety of factors, including the person’s criminal record, immigration history, ties to the community, risk of flight, and whether he or she poses a potential threat to public safety.
  • ICE Online Inmate Locator (except for people under 18 years of age):

  • Regarding ICE Office at 600 Sansome Street, San Francisco: As of 03/18/2020:
    • ICE check-ins are being rescheduled. ICE will contact respondents by phone or mail.
    • For bond payments, only the person paying the bond will be admitted in the building. Advocates recommend that a U.S. Citizen pay the bond.
  • Regarding participants in the Intensive Supervision Appearance Program (ISAP): As of 03/18/2020:
    • All ISAP in person check-ins are cancelled until further notice.
    • ISAP check-ins will be done telephonically so Participants must be available by phone.
    • Participants will be called by their case specialist to inform them to start reporting back to ISAP as normally scheduled.
  • On 05/04/2020, we received confirmation that all SF ERO check-ins are postponed through May 30, 2020.
  • SF ICE Contact Information: For questions or to report changes in contact information including address and telephone number, contact ICE via email at or via phone at (415)844-5512
  • ICE Enforcement Actions in the San Francisco Bay Area: Still happening but limited as per national guidance (see above). People deemed a public risk includes people with criminal convictions, which encompass most felonies, violent crimes, theft-related crimes, firearms offenses, and even minor drug related convictions. Enforcement actions are not supposed to happen at medical sites except for extraordinary circumstances.


  Rapid Response Networks to report suspected ICE activity:

Network & Geographical Area Phone Number
ACILEP (Alameda) (510)241-4011
Stand Together Contra Costa (925)900-5151
San Francisco Rapid Response Network (415)200-1548
Santa Clara Rapid Response Network (707)800-4544
Marin Rapid Response Network (415)991-4545
North Bay Rapid Response Network (Sonoma & Napa) (707)800-4544
San Mateo Rapid Response Network (203)666-4472


    • All individuals have rights under the U.S. Constitution, regardless of immigration status.
    • ICE may be aggressive; friendly; pretend to be local law enforcement.
    • Do not carry a passport or consular card without a valid visa.
    • In deportation proceedings, ICE must prove that you’re not from the U.S.A. & which country you’re from. Don’t give them that information.
    • If you have a valid work permit or green card, carry it.
    • Carry a red card (link above).
    • Do not carry any false ID or immigration documents.
    • Avoid criminal conduct or, if possible, being present where criminal conduct is taking place.
    • At home:
      • Do not open the door. ICE needs a warrant signed by a federal judge (rare).
      • Show red card under the door or by window. Do not open the window or door.
      • Call Rapid Response Network (or if represented by BayLegal Attorney, BayLegal Attorney – latter should call Rapid Response Network).
    • On the street:
      • Ask politely if you are free to leave.
      • You have the right to remain silent & should not answer any questions.
      • You must *say* that you wish to remain silent until you speak with a lawyer.
      • Refuse to sign anything before you talk to a lawyer. Because this could result in your immediate removal without a hearing.


  • On May 10th, DHS and EOIR made the following statement on the rescheduling and postponement of MPP hearings:
    • Beginning May 10th, in-person document service will be suspended immediately until June 8th, alleviating the need for applicants to travel within Mexico to a U.S. port of entry during this one-month suspension period.
    • All MPP hearings will remain postponed through, and including, June 19th. Individuals with a hearing date prior to June 22nd should present themselves at the port of entry identified on their tear sheet one month later than the date indicated on their most recently noticed date. For example, if the hearing date is May 10th, individuals should present themselves on June 10th.
    • For individuals with a hearing date of June 22nd or after, there is no change in procedures and they should report as instructed on their tear sheets.
  • For general information about MPP, see Under the MPP, individuals who arrive at the southern border to seek asylum, at a port of entry after crossing the border between ports of entry, are given notice to appear in immigration court and sent back to mexico. They receive instructions to return to a specific port of entry at a specific date and time for their next court of hearing. Certain individuals are exempt from the MPP:
    • Unaccompanied children; citizens or nationals of Mexico; individuals processed for expedited removal; individual in “special circumstances” including those with “known physical/mental health issues,” individuals with criminal records or a history of violence; individuals determined by an Asylum Officer to be “more likely than not” to face torture or persecution in Mexico on account of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. Survivors of human trafficking are exempt as well.




    • January 31: Presidential proclamation signed suspending entry into the USA of foreign nationals who were physically present in the People’s Republic of China, excluding the Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macau, within the 14 days preceding entry or attempted entry into the USA, effective February 2nd, 2020. 
    • February 29: Presidential proclamation signed suspending entry into the USA of aliens who were physically present in Iran within the 14 days preceding entry or attempted entry into the USA, effective March 2nd, 2020. 
    • March 11: Presidential proclamation signed suspending entry into the USA of foreign nationals who were physically present in 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/or  Switzerland, within the 14 days preceding their entry or attempted entry into the USA, effective March 13, 2020.
    • March 14: Presidential proclamation signed that restricts travel to the USA of foreign nationals who were physically present in the United Kingdom and Ireland within the 14 days preceding their entry or attempted entry into the USA, effective March 16, 2020.
    • U.S. citizens are not subject to the proclamations.
    • Exceptions exist for lawful permanent residents. Additional exceptions exist including, but not limited to: foreign diplomats traveling to the USA on A or G visas and certain family members of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents including; spouses, children (under the age of 21), parents (provided that his/her U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident child is unmarried and under the age of 21), and siblings (provided that both the sibling and the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident are unmarried and under the age of 21), and air and sea crew traveling to the USA on C, D or C1/D visas.  For the full list of exceptions please refer to the proclamations.
  • Additional Travel Restrictions For Mexico and Canada:
  • Visa Waiver Program Extensions:
    • U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced on April 20, 2020 that Visa Waiver Program travelers who have been granted satisfactory departure may apply for an additional 30-day extension of their admission period if they remain unable to depart the United States because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
    • The extension grants flexibility to Visa Waiver Program travelers who have difficulty returning to their countries due to COVID-19 related travel restrictions, flight cancellations or illness. Travelers who are granted satisfactory departure will have an additional 30 days to depart the United States after their lawful period of admission concludes.
    • Visa Waiver Program travelers may seek satisfactory departure by contacting:
      1. Any local CBP Port of Entry or Deferred Inspection Site; or
      2. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Contact Center.


    • Travelers should be prepared to provide their passport number when submitting their request. Travelers generally must apply for satisfactory departure before their current period of admission expires. Grants of satisfactory departure are made at the discretion of the reviewing CBP Officer. Travelers who remain in the United States beyond their lawful period of admission lose their eligibility to travel under the Visa Waiver Program and may be subject to additional penalties under U.S. law.
    • The Visa Waiver Program enables eligible nationals of 39 countries to travel to the United States for business or tourism for stays of up to 90 days without a visa. Visa Waiver Program travelers generally are not eligible to extend their stay or change their status after arriving in the United States. Under current regulations, however, CBP in its discretion may grant periods of satisfactory departure of up to 30 days if an emergency prevents the departure of a Visa Waiver Program traveler.
    • (See