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Published On: Wed, Jun 17th, 2020

Post-Pandemic Immigration Issues to Expect According to Jean Danhong Chen

The current COVID-19 pandemic has already affected international relations. It has restricted non-essential travel and led to the closure of borders in some cases and this is likely a trend that’s not going away anytime soon. It’s clear that governments have looked more inwardly to protect their own interests, which could make life more challenging not only for those looking to travel — but to study or work abroad or become permanent residents or citizens. 

With no definite end in sight for the pandemic, it could permanently shift how immigration is handled across the world. The U.S. has already imposed a suspension of immigration in mid-April, which was expected to affect permanent resident application processing for at least 60 days. While this caused the shutdown of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) offices, it was expected to resume in early June 2020. However, there are still limitations to the service and there’s a list of criteria for those wanting to enter the offices such as not having any symptoms of the novel coronavirus and the need for wearing facemasks.  

mask bandana

photo/ Sebastiaan stam via Unslash

But what will happen down the road when the COVID-19 numbers fall to much more manageable levels, or when there’s a vaccine available? There will still be some inherent challenges, as there were already a number of U.S. measures being imposed that affected access to asylum. 

Jean Danhong Chen is an immigration lawyer living in San Jose, California. Her law firm has had over 10,000 visa and green card case approvals across all 50 U.S. states. She provides an overview of immigration issues to expect in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Growing U.S. Citizenship Application Backlog 

The naturalization process for those already residing in the U.S. was halted by COVID-19. The result, according to a report, is that there will be a substantial backlog of applications. As of the end of May, there were already more than 700,000 green card holders waiting for U.S. citizenship status applications to be processed. 

The report notes that these applications were already lagging before the pandemic shut down many places in the world earlier this year. The wait time for a U.S. citizenship application has increased to 10 months (which is roughly twice the amount of time it took just four years prior), while immigrants are experiencing denials at a higher rate in some cities. This could mean continued longer wait times for processing following the restrictions as the backlog is cleared, adds Jean Danhong Chen.  

Migrants Impacted Worldwide

Those looking to cross into another country temporarily due to the need to seek employment or to escape poverty or political unrest (or with the goal of eventually securing residency) could be in for a rougher ride as a result of COVID-19, explains Jean Danhong Chen. More specifically, many migrants have been stuck in camps at borders (including the U.S.), fuelled by fear of COVID-19. 

But on the flipside, the crisis has also highlighted the need for migrants to help keep economies strong, as well as to ensure continued food supply from agriculture. However, even when the virus ceases to be a major threat, there could still be some lingering negative attitudes and perceptions towards migrants to overcome.

Need for Immigration Will Remain Strong, Says Jean Danhong Chen

Despite governments shutting down borders and imposing restrictions, the need for immigration will not go away following COVID-19, says Jean Danhong Chen. 

While some experts predict that the end result may be a less globalized economy, it will also underscore how important it is for countries to stay connected. International cooperation will be needed to avoid or minimize a global recession, and the U.S. and other countries need skilled talent from other places. 

Canada’s immigration minister, for example, has noted that newcomers will continue to be in demand following the pandemic to support front-line workers and ensure affordable food.

An experienced immigration firm with a solid track record can help people looking to live or study abroad following restrictions being lifted, says Jean Danhong Chen. Beginning the process now can help people navigate the system more easily when applying for visas or citizenship, she adds.

Author: Jamie Cartwright

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About the Author

- Writer and Co-Founder of The Global Dispatch, Brandon has been covering news, offering commentary for years, beginning professionally in 2003 on Crazed Fanboy before expanding into other blogs and sites. Appearing on several radio shows, Brandon has hosted Dispatch Radio, written his first novel (The Rise of the Templar) and completed the three years Global University program in Ministerial Studies to be a pastor. To Contact Brandon email [email protected] ATTN: BRANDON

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  1. […] spite of all the challenges associated with immigration, the need will likely remain. While a globalized economy may become less profound as a result, countries will still need to stay connected one way […]

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