FAQs about COVID-19 and EB-5

by Carolyn Lee

Mar 23, 2020

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is an abbreviation for “coronavirus disease 2019.” According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control (“CDC”), COVID-19 has caused a pandemic of respiratory disease spreading from person-to-person caused by a novel (new) coronavirus. COVID-19 can cause mild to severe illness; most severe illness occurs in older adults. The World Health Organization (“WHO”) has been maintaining a webpage with the latest global information.

I’m an investor waiting for my EB-5 petition to be decided and am currently in the U.S. in visitor status. What should I know?

Late departures — Individuals admitted under the VWP/ESTA program who find themselves unable to depart the U.S, before their current period of admission will end because of COVID-19 related issues who were admitted to the U.S. through John F. Kennedy International Airport, NY (JFK) and Newark Liberty International Airport, NJ (EWR) only can contact the Deferred Inspections office at JFK, starting Monday, March 16, 2020, Monday – Friday, 9am to 4pm ET and request Satisfactory Departure for up to 30 days.

Late extensions — Individuals admitted as visitors who could not timely apply for an extension due to COVID-19 may apply to treat the untimely application as a “special situation.” USCIS may potentially excuse the delay if it was due to extraordinary circumstances beyond your control.

I’m an EB-5 project sponsor and I have marketing engagements abroad? What should I know about traveling overseas and returning home to the U.S.?

Under a recent DHS announcement, all returning American citizens from restricted overseas areas including the Schengen Area, China and Iran must reenter the U.S. through one of 13 designated ports and self-quarantine for 14 days after arrival.

Moreover, any U.S. citizen returning to the United States who has been in China in the previous 14 days may be subject to up to 14 days of quarantine.

I’m an EB-5 investor with a long-pending I-829 petition. I cannot go to my biometrics appointment because of USCIS office closure or because my state has imposed a stay-at-home order. Will I be penalized?

USCIS has announced that failure to appear for biometrics, or an interview, or even to respond timely to a request for evidence for reasons directly tied to the special situation, you may show how the disrupting event affected your ability to appear for interview or submit documents as required.

Which consulates have limited visa services?

Certain consular posts have begun alerting applicants of reduced or temporarily suspended visa services. The Department of State has compiled a list of embassy websites for country-specific information concerning COVID-19. This page provides links to the COVID-19 dedicated page for each nation’s embassy which includes information concerning health services, recommendations, and in some cases, information concerning a reduction or temporary suspension of visa services. Note that the information is not uniform and may not be current

I can’t submit an original signature on my EB-5 forms because of COVID-19 (example, restrictions on movement, lawyer’s office closure). Do I have to wait until I can get an original signature?

Relaxing its existing policy, USCIS announced on March 20, 2020 that, due to the ongoing COVID-19 National Emergency, USCIS will accept all benefit forms and documents with reproduced original signatures.

Note from Carolyn Lee:

The virus hasn’t changed what I do in the least. Since launching Carolyn Lee PLLC EB-5 in 2019, I’ve invested heavily in cloud technology and security. As a result, my office is set up to run securely from anywhere, and COVID-19 has had zero impact on client support. I am wishing clients and everyone a safe journey through this global health challenge.

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