U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
- Primary Source: Full information about USCIS’s response to COVID-19 can be found on its dedicated webpage.
- In-Person Services: As of June 4, 2020, USCIS has resumed in-person services at its field offices and Application Support Centers, or ASCs, after they were previously closed due to COVID-19. On March 18, USCIS suspended all in-person services except for emergencies. USCIS is now in the process of reopening its field offices and Application Support Centers, or ASCs, for in-person services on or after June 4, 2020. USCIS has issued an alert detailing how appointments are being rescheduled and adjustments to practices to ensure social distancing and reduced risk of COVID-19 transmission.
- The alert describes how operations will resume for four separate functions: asylum offices, naturalization ceremonies, interviews and appointments, and ASC appointments. Please review the alert for details. In addition, USCIS now indicates on its main COVID-19 response page that certain ASCs are now open extended hours to reduce wait times for biometrics appointments.
- In May 2021, USCIS updated its procedures following the issuance of modified guidelines by the CDC. Fully vaccinated individuals are generally allowed to enter USCIS facilities without masks, while unvaccinated individuals over the age of 2 years old must continue to wear masks inside facilities. Health screening questions may be asked upon entry, and social distancing and sanitization guidelines will continue to be followed. Certain individuals who have symptoms of COVID-19, known exposure to the virus, or who have travelled to certain areas are asked not to enter USCIS facilities.
- Signatures: USCIS announced that it will accept all benefit forms and documents with original signatures, that have been copied, scanned or otherwise reproduced for submissions dated on or after March 21, 2020, for the duration of the National Emergency. This temporary change only applies to signatures. All other form instructions should be followed when completing a form.
- Deadline Flexibility: USCIS announced a deadline flexibilities to assist applicants and petitioners who are responding to certain: The flexibility applies to those documents issued between the dates of March 1, 2020, and the new extension date of Sept. 30, 2021, inclusive. USCIS will consider a response to the above requests and notices received within 60 calendar days after the response due date set in the request or notice before taking any action. They will consider a Form N-336 or Form I-290B received up to 60 calendar days from the date of the decision before they take any action.
- Requests for Evidence;
- Continuations to Request Evidence (N-14);
- Notices of Intent to Deny; Notices of Intent to Revoke;
- Notices of Intent to Rescind and Notices of Intent to Terminate regional investment centers;
- Filing date requirements for Form N-336, Request for a Hearing on a Decision in Naturalization Proceedings (Under Section 336 of the INA); or
- Filing date requirements for Form I-290B, Notice of Appeal or Motion.
- Biometrics: USCIS announced that it will reuse previously-submitted biometrics to process Employment Authorization Document, or EAD, extension requests. USCIS has indicated that it is still reusing previously-submitted biometrics whenever possible.
- Public Charge: USCIS has updated its public charge webpage to remove previous information it provided regarding how it will consider health issues related to the COVID-19 contagion in the context of public charge.
- Expiring Status: With respect to nonimmigrant status, USCIS has indicated individuals and petitioners should continue to timely file extension and change of status requests, noting nonimmigrants generally do not accrue unlawful presence while an EOS/COS application is pending. USCIS has also reminded petitioners and applicants that they may excuse failure to timely file EOS/COS requests if the delay was due to extraordinary circumstances.
- USCIS noted that Visa Waiver Program, or VWP, entrants who are unable to depart the U.S. due to the COVID-19 crisis may seek a period of satisfactory departure for up to 30 days by contacting the USCIS Contact Center.
- Lockbox Delays: USCIS announced that, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, among other delays, applicants may experience a delay of four to six weeks in receiving their receipt notices. These delays will not affect the receipt date, which is determined pursuant to 8 C.F.R. 103.2(a)(7). The announcement also outlines what USCIS is doing to minimize delays.
- On June 10, 2021, USCIS additionally announced that it will be offering filing flexibilities to certain individuals impacted by these COVID-19 lockblox delays. The temporary flexibilities are in place between June 10 and Aug. 9, 2021 and pertain to individuals whose applications were rejected due to fee payments expiring before their applications being processed and receipted, or to individuals who aged-out of the benefit requested before the applications were processed and receipted. More details regarding these flexibilities and how to request them are at the main USCIS COVID-19 page above.
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