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The COVID-19 pandemic rocked not only the United States but every country in the world. People from all different walks of life felt the everyday impact of the pandemic: Public events: canceled. Family gatherings: canceled. And a new normal: social distancing and masks.
One group feeling the most impact: immigrants. Residents of several countries have been banned from traveling to America. Former President Donald Trump’s policies made it challenging for immigrants to attain citizenship. Furthermore, the subjugation of illegal immigrants in ICE detention centers led to over 15,000 cases of COVID-19 along with nine deaths. Dark times were upon us.
However, with the advent of the COVID-19 vaccine, the world is starting to return to a sense of normalcy. Family gatherings are back. Masks are coming off. But what does that mean for immigrants coming into the United States? Let’s take a look.
It’s Not Over Yet
While the United States has access to various COVID-19 vaccines, many underprivileged nations do not and therefore are having less luck combatting the virus. Countries in Latin America, South Asia, and other areas continue to grapple with the pandemic due to a lack of technology and the capital needed to invest in a vaccine. Not only that, areas such as the United Kingdom, Brazil, and the Republic of South Africa have faced variant strains of COVID19, causing President Joe Biden, with guidance from The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to “restrict and suspend” travel to those areas. Without a global plan in mind, the pandemic will continue to create havoc in underdeveloped countries.
However, some countries in the European Union are slowly allowing vaccinated American tourists entry into their nations. In certain cases, visitors, such as those from Austria, only need their first round of vaccine shots to enter the European Union.
In the United States, everyone is being encouraged to take the vaccine, even undocumented immigrants. In a statement back in February, the Department of Homeland Security announced that all populations are eligible for the vaccine without discrimination, including undocumented immigrants. In addition, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection are not permitted to conduct operations around vaccine facilities.
Immigration Today: A Waiting Game
Now that more and more people are receiving the vaccine, the topic of immigration is back in the spotlight. Due to policies from the previous administration, becoming a naturalized citizen through a U-visa program could take as long as eight years due to a backlog of citizenship applications. The average time to receive an employer-sponsored green card has doubled. Nearly 4 million applicants for family-sponsored visas are on the waiting list as of November 1st, 2020. Immigration was and remains a waiting game.
Though the immigration process can take a very long time, President Biden intends to change all that. In a 46-page draft, he outlined his plans to eliminate the immigration obstacles President Trump instituted during his time in office Throughout seven sections, Biden’s plan involves a streamlined process that cuts down fees and provides assistance to high-skilled workers, trafficking victims, the families of Americans living abroad, American Indians born in Canada, refugees, asylum-seekers and farmworkers. Instead of slowing down the immigration process, this new plan will speed up the backlog by providing virtual filing opportunities and interviews.
Even before the COVID-19 outbreak, immigration was slow as molasses. Some immigration applicants have been waiting for as many as two decades. The COVID-19 vaccine may have made the future a little brighter for immigration applicants to and within the United States, but the immigration process still has a long way to go before becoming perfect.
Thinking about immigrating post-COVID? Buy a Resource Referrals package today so we can do the research for you and get you in touch with an immigration lawyer here in the U.S. And check out our e-learning videos on all things America to learn more about your newly adopted country! We are here to make your transition to your new country as easy as possible! Questions? Contact me today at email@example.com or call or text (866) 403-7173. Remember, you are not alone!
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