When you look around it becomes exceedingly obvious that Covid-19 has changed every corner of life in some way. Sentences like, “we used to do it this way…. Well, then, Covid” are commonplace. That includes legal practices.
As experts in immigration law, our professionals at Voloshen Law, we have clients facing removal, and not being sure what happens next. What if, for example, one of our team contracts Covid? While we can offer online consultation, that’s not going to be possible in a court setting.
Lawers can take precautions, making sure they and their clients wear appropriate masks during testimony. But even the best protection doesn’t account for pre-trial exposure. Then there are courts who order a law practitioner to court, no matter their Covid status.
In March, EOIR (the Executive Office for Immigration Review) postponed a large number of master calendar hearings throughout the US. Some hearings were not suspended, however. They included immigrants held in detention and unaccompanied children. There was no rhyme or reason as to how courts were reopened, and even then some courts experienced sudden closures due to Covid-10 exposures. It wasn’t until September that most courts reopened at least partially.
For a client, the on-again, off-again trial status is frustrating and uncertain. Many courts already have backlogs, and now they have another hearing that should be rescheduled quickly. It is important for agencies like ours to be open and honest with our clients. The decision to seek dismissal can create further hardship, like loss of work authorization. Now you add Covid into the equation, and the entire legal system has to rethink procedures and processes, and how to best protect clients from all the changes.
During the first three months of the pandemic, the USCIS suspended in-person services. This meant interviews for immigration benefits and asylum applications were pushed back, including at embassies and worldwide consulates.
- No fingerprints were taken
- No oath ceremonies took place.
- No immigrant and nonimmigrant visa appointments
- Suspension of family-based immigrant visas (including relatives of US citizens)
The only exception was for H-2 visas due to the need for temporary agricultural workers.
The impact was staggering. Thousands of people were “on hold” for citizenship. There were no efforts to protect foreign nationals from losing their status during a state of emergency.
There is no question the USCIS needs to make policy changes that could allow noncitizens relief from never-ending paperwork, and extend their status.
Looking for Assistance
If you find yourself in the middle of technical issues regarding removal proceedings or other seemingly impossible bundles of red tapes, Voloshen Law is an expert in immigration affairs. Don’t try to navigate by yourself. The details are complex and often changing.
We have offices in Huntindgon, PA, and Boca Raton, FL, which you can call: (215) 437-7854. We also have an online contact form for your convenience.