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This article was updated on March 17, 2020.

The global COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact international travel to the United States as well as the availability of U.S. consular services around the world. The following is a summary of the latest updates.

Travel Restrictions—United Kingdom and Ireland

The Trump administration is suspending the entry of foreign nationals from the United Kingdom and Ireland into the United States. The suspension will go into effect at 11:59 p.m. EDT on March 16, 2020 and mirrors the travel restrictions implemented for China, Iran, and the 26 Schengen countries. It is not yet clear how long the suspension will remain in place. Additional information is expected in the coming days.

Travel Authorization

It is important to note that the travel restrictions apply regardless of whether an individual has a valid Electronic System Travel Authorization, more commonly referred to as ESTA. ESTA is an online system used to determine whether a traveler is eligible to travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program, which allows nationals of 38 countries to travel or be admitted to the United States without a visa.

There have been reports that U.S Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has begun temporarily revoking ESTA registrations to prevent barred individuals from attempting to travel to the United States. The revocations are said to be without prejudice and most travelers will be able to apply for ESTA again in the future when the travel restrictions have been lifted.

CBP is also said to be working on a process to allow individuals who are unable to depart the United States but whose period of ESTA admission will be expiring, to contact ports of entry directly, as opposed to going to local offices, to apply for what is called “Satisfactory Departure.” Under Satisfactory Departure an individual may be granted an additional period of 30 days if there is an emergency circumstance that prevents the individual from departing the United States within his or her period of authorized stay. As long as the individual leaves within the 30-day period, he or she will not be considered to have violated U.S. immigration laws by overstaying the period of authorized stay. Ogletree Deakins will provide additional information as it becomes available.

Interruptions to U.S. Embassy and Consular Services

A number of U.S. embassies and consulates around the world have announced reductions in services and/or cancellations of visa appointments. The table below provides the latest updates.

 Country Consular Update
Amsterda Only emergency American Citizen Services and emergency visa services are available until further notice.
Argentina Effective March 16, 2020, all routine visa appointments are cancelled until further notice.
Australia
*Updated*
Effective March 17, 2020, limiting operations to emergency services for U.S. citizens and emergency visa processing, as well as mail-in cases.
Austria
*Updated*
All regular visa operations suspended until further notice. Visa services for diplomatic and official visas, visas for flight crews, visas for immediate family members of U.S. citizens, and other limited categories will continue.
Bahamas
*Updated* 
Effective March 16, 2020, all routine visa appointments are cancelled until further notice.
Brazil
*Updated*
Effective March 17, 2020, all routine immigrant and nonimmigrant visa appointments are cancelled until further notice. Emergency services for U.S. citizens will continue to be available.
Belgium
*Updated* 
All nonimmigrant visa appointments are canceled through the end of April.
Canada
*Updated*
Effective March 18, 2020, all routine immigrant and nonimmigrant visa appointments are cancelled.  Emergency services for U.S. citizens and emergency visa processing will continue to be available.
China  Effective February 10, 2020, regular visa services are suspended until further notice.
Colombia
*Updated
Effective March 17, all non-emergency visa appointments are cancelled.
Denmark  Effective March 13, 2020, all routine visa appointments are suspended until further notice.
Dominican Republic
*Updated
Effective March 16, 2020, all routine visa appointments are cancelled until further notice.
Finland
*Updated* 
Effective March 17, 2020, all consular services are suspended until April 9, 2020.
France Effective March 16, 2020, only emergency American Citizen Services and emergency visa services are available.
Germany Effective March 16, 2020, there will be limited consular operations. Reduced staff will perform necessary diplomatic functions. Emergency services for U.S. citizens and emergency visa processing will continue to be available.
Honduras
*Updated*
Open for emergency services only.
 
India
 
Effective March 16, 2020, all immigrant and nonimmigrant visa appointments are cancelled until further notice.
Italy Effective March 11, 2020, only emergency American Citizen Services and emergency visa services are available.
 Ireland Effective March 16, 2020, limited consular services will be available until further notice. Emergency services for U.S. citizens and emergency visa processing will continue to be available.
Israel
*Updated
Visa appointments have reportedly been cancelled until further notice.
Mexico
*Updated*
Effective March 18, 2020, all routine immigrant and nonimmigrant visa services are cancelled until further notice. Essential consular services to U.S. citizens will continue, as well as emergency visa services.
Morocc All immigrant visa appointments are suspended until further notice.
Philippines
*Updated*
Closed March 17, 2020, due to enhanced community quarantine. Additional information will be provided.
Poland
*Updated*
Only open for routine and emergency American Citizen Services.
Saudi Arabia
*Updated* 
All nonimmigrant and immigrant visa appointments are postponed until further notice.
Spain
*Updated*
The U.S. Embassy in Madrid and the U.S. Consulate General in Barcelona are providing only emergency services to U.S. citizens. The five U.S. consular agencies in Spain (Balearic Islands, Canary Islands, Malaga, Sevilla, Valencia) are providing only emergency services to U.S. citizens by email and telephone. Until further notice, the consular agencies will not provide in-person services.
South Africa
*Updated*
Effective March 16, 2020, most nonimmigrant visa appointments are cancelled until May 31, 2020. This action does not apply to diplomatic/official visa applications or to immigrant visa applications.
Sweden
*Updated* 
Effective March 16, 2020, all appointments are cancelled through April 30, 2020.
Switzerland
*Updated*
Effective March 16, 2020, the consulate is not offering regular public hours through April 3, 2020. U.S. citizens requiring assistance can contact the American Citizens Services Unit in U.S. Embassy Bern.
Turkey
*Updated
Effective March 18, 2020, routine consular services are suspended until further notice.
United Arab Emirates
*Updated*
Effective March 16, 2020, routine immigrant and nonimmigrant visa appointments are cancelled until further notice.
 
United Kingdom
 
Effective March 17, 2020, all routine immigrant and nonimmigrant visa appointments are cancelled until further notice.

Key Considerations for Employers

Employers may wish to consider the prudence and advisability of international travel at this time. The cancellation of visa appointments combined with the U.S. based travel restrictions may mean that a person traveling abroad could be unable to return to the United States for a lengthy period of time.

Even if the employee possesses a valid visa, there are no guarantees the employee will be able to return to the United States if the scope of the travel restrictions continue to expand in the coming weeks.

It is important to remember that employees who were admitted into the United States who possess expired visas, do not need to travel internationally to renew their visa stamp. If the employer timely files an extension, the employee’s work authorization and status remain valid while the extension remains pending.

Ogletree Deakins’ Immigration Practice Group will continue to monitor developments with respect to the policy changes and will post updates on our immigration blog and the firm’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resource Center as additional information becomes available.

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