The COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on people and economies all over the world. There was no industry and nation spared. The daily habits of millions were completely disrupted through quarantines, loss of employment, illness, and plenty of other issues. Therefore, it’s easy to understand it also had an impact on immigration.
Let’s have a look at some ways Covid-19 affected it.
USCIS At a Standstill
During most of 2020 and some portion of 2021, all visa processing conducted overseas by the U.S. Department of State and activities carried out by the USCIS came to an almost complete standstill. Something as routine as border crossings along both the southern and northern borders was severely restricted, cutting off the flow of everyday activities and restricting the entrance of asylum seekers and unaccompanied minors.
Thousands of people are still in immigration detention centers and jails, increasing the risk of contracting Covid-19 while in close contact with so many others. During the thickest of the pandemic, untold court hearings were suspended and those courts that remained open performed limited functions. This translated into having millions of immigrants and their loved ones out of legislative relief, making it almost impossible for them to deal with a heavy economic uncertainty.
COVID-19’s Impact on Immigrants and Non-Immigrants Overseas
Foreigners of any nationality have been severely limited from traveling to the United States during the pandemic. As early as March of 2020, routine visa services started being suspended in embassies and consulates around the world, and this included all appointments for immigrants and non-immigrants seeking visas. It was not until the middle of July of 2021 that consulates slowly began to reopen.
COVID-19’s Prevalence Among Immigrants
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that migrants, refugees, and immigrants have found themselves at a higher risk for more severe COVID-19 illness when compared to the general population. The blame may be placed on the fact that these groups tend to live in closer quarters with higher density environments, giving the virus a greater opportunity to be transmitted.
These populations also tend to work in sectors that have suffered mass layoffs, such as the restaurant industry, hotels, childcare, and home care services.
Other issues affecting immigrants are:
- Most immigrants, refugees, and migrants have lower rates of health insurance coverage.
- Over 15 million people, including many who live in families with mixed immigration statuses, have not been eligible to get any COVID-19 stimulus payments.
- Many immigrants have avoided applying for any governmental benefit, including free COVID-19 tests or vaccines, for fear that any action on their part might impact their current or future immigration status.
- Many mental health issues like depression, anxiety, or posttraumatic stress disorder, are higher among some immigrant and refugee populations than in the population at large.
- When it comes to children of immigrants, they have had to deal with the fact that most online educational materials are not accessible for different immigrant populations. Also, many of them do not have a computer or access to a reliable Internet connection.
If you or a loved one are worried that the Covid-19 pandemic may impact your immigration status, you may start getting a clearer picture of your situation by reading more information about U.S. immigration law.