Monday, March 15, 2021

How the COVID-19 Pandemic Has Affected Immigration: One Year Later


How the COVID-19 Pandemic Has Affected Immigration: One Year Later

It’s been one year since the COVID-19 pandemic first affected immigration on a global scale. The impact has been swift, devastating, and long-lasting.

On March 11, 2020, former President issued a proclamation announcing travel restrictions on two dozen European countries. It was one of the first major signs from the U.S. government that the landscape of travel—and immigration in particular—would be significantly altered by the pandemic.

All told, immigration to the United States dropped a staggering 92% during the second half of fiscal year 2020. This was the largest drop off in immigration in the history of the United States.

Immigration amid the pandemic continues to evolve. Here are some of the changes to immigration in the last year.

Immigration Bans and Restrictions: Then

The United States officially declared COVID-19 a public health emergency on January 31, 2020.

Upon that declaration, all people other than U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and their immediate family were barred from traveling to the U.S. within 14 days of being in China, where the first known outbreak occurred.

On March 11, 2020, during a primetime address to the nation, The President banned all foreign nationals from European countries for 30 days. The President continued to roll out and extend travel restrictions after that announcement.

The next large ban—targeting the legal immigration system—came on April 24 and was set to last until December 31, 2020.

The President blocked the issuance of all new permanent visas to many immigrants that the prior administration had targeted for exclusion for years. The ban blocked immigrant family members of U.S. citizens, including parents and children. The ban also covered winners of the diversity visa.

On April 24, the administration extended the ban to include certain employment-based nonimmigrant visas.

At the same time, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) suspended all in-person services at its domestic and foreign offices. The Department of State had already closed all of USCIS’ visa processing services at embassies and consulates worldwide on March 20. Limited services—such as socially-distanced naturalization ceremonies—resumed on June 4.

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