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 is in the process of resuming 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.
- The alert also describes the steps USCIS will take to reduce the risk of COVID-19 exposure for officers and stakeholders, including reducing the number of appointments per day and increasing cleaning practices. Among other guidelines in the alert, visitors are asked to maintain social distancing, wear a face covering and reschedule appointments if they are unwell or have been in close contact with someone known or suspected to have COVID-19 in the previous 14 days.
- 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:
- Requests for Evidence;
- Continuations to Request Evidence (N-14);
- Notices of Intent to Deny; o 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 wto 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.
CLINIC Affiliates: If you are a CLINIC Affiliate and need assistance resolving issues in a case, please contact our Training and Legal Support team by submitting a question to Ask the Experts at cliniclegal.org/find-legal-help/ask-experts. If you have exhausted your case resolution options for a pending case you can also contact our Advocacy team at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also contact advocacy if you are encountering issues in your practice that are not addressed by measures taken by federal agencies.