A blog about U.S. immigration matters by Paul Szeto, a former INS attorney and an experienced immigration lawyer. We serve clients in all U.S. states and overseas countries. (All information is not legal advice and is subject to change without prior notice.)

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Sunday, February 2, 2020

U.S. Coronavirus Travel Restrictions: Q & A

On January 31, 2020,  the U.S. government declared the coronavirus as a public health emergency in the United States and initiated a series of measures to counter this deadly virus from China including mandatory quarantine and entry restrictions.The following questions and answers summarize the details.

Q.  I have a visa to enter the U.S. and I have been in China in the past 2 weeks.  Can I return to the U.S. now? 
A.  No, foreign nationals who have been to China in the previous 14 days are not allowed to enter the U.S. starting 5 p.m., EST, Sunday, February 2, 2020.  This ban applies to all immigrant and nonimmigrant visa classifications including as B-1, B-2, F-1, H-1B, L-1, O, R, etc. (subject to some exceptions below). 

Q.  How long will the entry restrictions last?
A.  The entry restrictions will be on-going until the President decides to end them.  The Secretary of Health and Human Services will make recommendations to the President after 15 days, and every 15 days thereafter, on whether to continue, modify, or terminate these restrictions.

Q:  I am a U.S. citizen who have been to China recently.  Can I return to the U.S.?
A.   U.S. citizens are not subject to the entry restrictions.  However, U.S. citizens who have traveled to Hubei, China, during the last 14 days will be subject to up to 14 days of mandatory quarantine when they return to the U.S.

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Q.  Are there any exceptions to the entry restrictions?
A.  Yes, the following categories of people are exempt:

  • green card holders
  • spouses of U.S. citizens or green card holders
  • parents or legal guardians of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents who are unmarried and under the age of 21
  • siblings of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents who are unmarried and under the age 21
  • children of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents, and IR-4 or I-IH-4 prospective adoptees 
  • air or sea travel crew members
  • Other exempt individuals include foreign diplomas and their family members, foreigners exempt by the CDC Director or otherwise authorized by the U.S. government for other reasons.

Q.  I am an American citizen and I have elderly parents. Will they be allowed to come to the U.S.? 
A.  Parents of American citizens are not exempt unless the citizens are unmarried and under the age of 21.

Q. Do these restrictions apply to Chinese citizens only?
A.  No, these restrictions apply to all foreign nationals who have been to China in the past 14 days.

Q. I have been in Hong Kong and Macau in the previous 14 days. Am I subject to these entry restrictions?
A.  No.

Q.  I am an American citizen and I have been to China but not Wuhan.  Can I fly back to the U.S.?
A. U.S. citizens who have been in the rest of mainland China must first be screened at one of eleven U.S. airports: New York, Newark, San Francisco, Seattle, Virginia, Dallas, Detroit, Honolulu, Los Angeles, O'Hare, and Atlanta.

Q.  I am a Chinese citizen working/studying/visiting in the United States with a valid visa but my I-94 stay will expire soon. If I remain here, I will be overstaying my status.  What should I do?
A. There are two options.  You may file a request to extend or change your status in the U.S.  If this option is not available, then you may travel to another country other than China and re-enter the U.S. again (with a valid visa).

Travel ban expanded to the Schengen Area and other countries...

In March, Trump expanded the travel ban to the Schengen Area comprises 26 European states: 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 Switzerland. 

Iran added on Feb. 29. 

U.K. and Ireland were also added on March 14.

Brazil was added to the list on March 17.

(Immigration laws and policies change regularly.  If you have any questions regarding this article, please visit www.1visa1.com to schedule legal consultation.) 


Unknown said...

I am a Ghanaian holding immigrant Visa which will expire on 30th June 2020 But because of covid 19,am still at Ghana, so if it expires will it be extended?

Paul Szeto said...

Contact the US Embassy in Ghana - they should be able to extend your immigrant visa if you cannot travel to the U.S. by then.