Travel Ban during COVID-19

Ever since COVID-19 hit, immigration proceedings in the United States have slowed down, with some offices even remaining closed. People often ask us how long their visa processing takes and how much it will cost, but with the process being affected by the pandemic, it’s difficult to give a definitive answer.

In the past few months, we’ve had several people ask about different types of visas including fiancée, visitor and tourist visa, and others. At Andres Mejer Law, we’ve conducted a training on K1 or fiancée visas which you can refer to for information. In this article, we’re going to answer questions regarding visits to the US in light of the travel ban due to COVID-19. Note that these are general answers that apply to a variety of situations, which means they may not necessarily address your situation and shouldn’t be taken as legal advice. If you want to discuss your immigration case, call us at 1-888-421-9942 or send us an email so we can provide you with legal help.

Will an ESTA and Schengen visa allow entry into the United States?

There is a visa waiver program for citizens of certain countries that allows some people to travel to the US under electronic system for travel authorization (ESTA) without a visa for less than 90 days. A similar travel visa, called ETIAS or European Travel Information and Authorization System, allows individuals to travel to the Schengen area.

In March 2020, travel restrictions were put into place by the Department of State due to COVID-19. As such, even if you have an ESTA visa, you cannot travel into the US. If you have ESTA and you attempt to travel to the US from these countries, you will have your ESTA taken away from you and your fees will not be refunded.

Is K1 visa a valid exemption to the travel ban in the US?

A K1 visa is a fiancée visa. This is a non-immigrant visa that you can obtain when you are planning to marry a US citizen. It allows you to enter the United States on this visa, for up to 90 days. However, if you don’t get married within that time you must leave the US. If you do get married, you must apply for a green card and file it within three months of entering the US. Otherwise, it’ll be more complicated and expensive for you to apply for adjustment of status and become a lawful permanent resident. If you need help applying for a green card in the US, call us today to discuss your immigration case with an experienced immigration attorney.

As of September 7, 2020, some embassy and consulate offices have begun opening on a post by post basis. This means that you’ll need to check with each individual embassy to find out if they are open. So far, those which have reopened are only processing visas for spouses and children of US Citizens, but not fiancée visas. With that said, you can still file a visa application for K1 or fiance visas, but you won’t be allowed to enter the country until the travel restrictions are lifted.

Will it be possible to travel to the US during the holidays with B1 and B2 visas?

A visitor visa is a nonimmigrant visa which allows individuals to travel to the US for business travel (B1 visa) or as a tourist (B2 visa). Since the travel ban was extended to December 31, 2020 by the State Department, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to travel to the United States during the holidays.

Andres Mejer Law can solve your immigration problems!

At Andres Mejer Law, we’re here to guide you through your immigration journey. We’re located in Eatontown, New Jersey, but we also have offices in Lakewood, Newark, and Edison. Today, we’ve helped find solutions for our clients in 15 states and even from outside the US.

Being immigrants ourselves, we work hard at Andres Mejer Law to solve your immigration problems and treat you the way we wish our family were treated. What are you waiting for? Call us today and get your free immigration diagnosis now!