EAH Immigration Blog

Coronavirus’s Impact on Individuals Seeking Entry into the United States After Travel in China and on U.S. Consular Processing in China

In light of the outbreak of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus, the Trump Administration has taken several measures to control and limit the entry of individuals potentially exposed the virus in China from entering the United States.

On January 31, President Trump issued a Proclamation suspending entry of certain immigrants and nonimmigrants who were physically present within China, excluding Hong Kong and Macau, 14 days prior to their entry or attempted entry into the United States. The ban became effective on February 2, 2020.

Further, U.S. citizens who are traveling from the Hubei province in China within 14 days of arriving to the United States will be subject to up to 14-day mandatory quarantine. Returning U.S. citizens who had visited other parts of China, outside of Hong Kong, Macau, and the Hubei province, will be subject to monitoring at certain ports of entry, and potentially self-quarantine at home. Those considered exempt under the Proclamation will likely also be subject to the same limitations and protocols as U.S. citizens.

The Proclamation clarifies that it does not impact an individual’s eligibility for asylum, withholding of removal, or protection under the U.N. Convention Against Torture. In addition to U.S. citizens, the Proclamation does not apply to the following individuals:

  • Lawful permanent residents (LPRs) of the United States;
  • Spouses of a U.S. citizen or LPR;
  • Parents or legal guardians of a U.S. citizen or LPR, provided that the U.S. citizen or LPR is unmarried and under the age of 21;
  • Siblings of a U.S. citizen or LPR, provided that both are unmarried and under the age of 21;
  • Children, foster children, or wards of a U.S. citizen or LPR, or prospective adoptees seeking to enter the United States pursuant to the IR-4 or IH-4 visa classifications;
  • Foreign nationals traveling to the United States at the invitation of the U.S. government for a purpose related to containment or mitigation of the virus;
  • Nonimmigrants under INA §101(a)(15)(C) or (D), as a crewmember or any alien otherwise traveling to the United States as air or sea crew;
  • Nonimmigrants on an A-1, A-2, C-2, C-3 (as a foreign government official or immediate family member of an official), G-1, G-2, G-3, G-4, NATO-1 through NATO-4, or NATO-6 visa;
  • Foreign nationals whose entry would not pose a significant risk of introducing, transmitting, or spreading the virus, as determined by the CDC Director, or his designee;
  • Foreign nationals 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; or
  • Foreign nationals whose entry would be in the national interest, as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their designees.

Meanwhile, DHS has directed all inbound flights with individuals who have been in China to 11 major U.S. airports, where health protocols have been implemented to account for treatment and handling of individuals who might have contracted the virus.

U.S. Consular Processing in China Suspended
As of February 10, 2020, regular visa services at the U.S Embassy in Beijing and the U.S. Consulates General in Chengdu, Guangzhou, Shanghai and Shenyang are suspended. Due to the ongoing situation relating to the novel coronavirus, the U.S. Embassy and Consulates have very limited staffing and may be unable to respond to requests regarding regular visa services. Limited emergency appointments may be available.

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