May 3, 2020

Navigating immigration challenges during the coronavirus crisis

The spread of COVID-19 has created challenges for most of the world. And as someone seeking citizenship or living in Michigan with a visa, court closures provide added stress during an already difficult time.

If your visa status is at a standstill or expired, then larger issues can quickly develop. Instead of having to separate from loved ones or losing the chance to study or work in Michigan, there are actions you can take to help secure your residency.

Extend your stay

Whether you are in Michigan for work, school, a visit or plan to make it your long-term home, there are closures and new rules that may affect how you receive immigration services.

  • Work or study: Those on employment or study visas can still apply to extend their stay or change their status. Even while U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is under a temporary closure, you can still submit applications and petitions.
  • Visit or vacation: Those visiting Michigan through the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), cannot file for the same type of extension. The VWP includes individuals who have traveled to visit, vacation, receive medical treatment or attend an event. But, if it’s safer to remain in the U.S. longer rather than returning home, then you could be eligible for a 30-day extension.
  • Permanent residency: Those hoping to seek permanent residency could be facing a different set of obstacles. Most in-person USCIS services aren’t available right now. For example, both interviews for those seeking asylum and naturalization oath ceremonies will take place after local and national government entities lift stay-at-home orders. If you have yet to receive notice on a reschedule date, then you can reach out to USCIS to get an up-to-date response.
  • New applicants: Most new green card applicants hoping to come to Michigan from out of the country won’t be able to get approval while a new executive order is in place. Although, there are exceptions to the new rule. If you already have a valid visa and live in-state, if you are the spouse or child of an American citizen or if you are a health care worker, then you can still apply for a green card.

In pandemic and regular circumstances alike, it’s important to keep up to date with changing rules that could affect your status.