In reply to many requests from my clients, here is the summary of the USCIS and Immigration Court’s operational status during the pandemic:
Interviews, Appointments, Hearings, Biometrics, Oath Ceremonies
All non- detained immigration hearings scheduled between March 18 and May 18 are automatically suspended and will be rescheduled by the Immigration Court. You can still file documents with the Court if necessary. Immigration Courts are now open only for filings and cases related to detained clients.
Local USCIS offices are still closed for in-person services through at least June 3 to help slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). If you had an interview scheduled between March 18 and June 3 and it is canceled, please do not panic! Your appointment will automatically be rescheduled once normal operations resume. USCIS domestic field offices will send new notices with instructions to applicants and petitioners with re- scheduled interview appointments
impacted by this closure.
All biometrics appointments scheduled between March 18 and June 3 have been suspended. The USCIS will automatically reschedule your fingerprint appointment when USCIS resumes normal operations.
Extensions of Employment Authorization Document: Applicants who filed Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, extension and had a fingerprint appointment scheduled with the local service center after their closure on March 18, will have their application processed using previously submitted biometrics.
Asylum Appointments: USCIS asylum offices will send interview cancellation notices and automatically reschedule asylum interviews. When the interview is rescheduled, asylum applicants will receive a new interview notice with the new time, date, and location for the interview. If you have an asylum application already pending with the USCIS, you can check your case status online. You will need the receipt number that USCIS mailed you after you filed your application at : www.uscis.gov/casestatus.
Naturalization Oath Ceremonies: USCIS will automatically reschedule your ceremony. You will receive a notice for your rescheduled ceremony by mail. If you do not receive a notice
within 90 days, please reach out to the USCIS Contact Center.
Filing your Applications, Petitions, Replies to RFEs, Notices and Appeals
Despite the above described office closures, the USCIS staff will continue to perform duties that do not involve contact with the public. As such, if you need to file certain application or petitionwith the USCIS, you can still do so either online or by mail. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services continues to accept and process applications and petitions, and many of the application forms are available for online filing.
Special note for H-1B applicants: If you are subject to H-1B cap and was selected to apply this year, please carefully review the selection notice for deadline to file your application and service center address for your application.
Do not miss the deadline!
Apply for an Extension: If you are in the U.S. in a non- immigrant status and you need to change or extend your status, you can do so by timely filing an application for extension of stay
(EOS) or change in status (COS).
If You File in a Timely Manner: Nonimmigrants generally do not accrue unlawful presence while the timely-filed, non-frivolous EOS/COS application is pending. Where applicable, employment authorization with the same employer, subject to the same terms and conditions of the prior approval, is automatically extended for up to 240 days after I-94 expiration when an extension of stay request is filed on time.
Flexibility for Late Applications: USCIS may excuse a nonimmigrant’s failure to timely file an extension/change of status request after the authorized period of admission expires, if the failure to timely file was due to extraordinary circumstances beyond their control, such as those that may be caused by COVID-19. The length of delay must be commensurate with the circumstances. The petitioner or applicant must submit credible evidence to support their request,
which USCIS will evaluate in its discretion on a case-by-case basis.
Flexibility for Visa Waiver Entrants: Visa Waiver Program (VWP) entrants are not eligible to extend their stay or change status. However, under current regulations, if an emergency (such as
COVID-19) prevents the departure of a VWP entrant, USCIS in its discretion may grant up to 30 days to allow for satisfactory departure. For those VWP entrants already granted satisfactory departure and unable to depart within this 30-day period because of COVID-19 related issues, USCIS has the authority to temporarily provide an additional 30-day period of satisfactory departure. To request satisfactory departure from USCIS, a VWP entrant should call the USCIS Contact Center.
Deadlines to file a response to certain Requests and Notices are extended by 60 days:
USCIS will consider a response received within 60 calendar days after the response due date set forth in the following requests or notices before taking any action if such request or notice was issued by USCIS between March 1 and July 1, 2020, inclusive:
• Request for Evidence;
• Continuations to Request Evidence (N-14);
• Notice of Intent to Deny;
• Notice of Intent to Revoke;
• Notice of Intent to Rescind; and
• Notice of Intent to Terminate.
Deadline to file an Appeals is now 60 days: USCIS will consider a Notice of Appeal or Motion filed on Form I-290B if filed 60 calendar days from the issuance of a decision by USCIS, if such decision is was issued between March 1 and July 1, 2020, inclusive.