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COVID-19 Immigration updates

Immigration Changes During COVID 19 - Liberty Law

Immigration: USCIS and Immigration Courts’ Changes in Response to Corona Virus (COVID-19)

As of April 1, USCIS extends temporary office closures until at least May 3, unless the public closures are extended further. To schedule an emergency appointment, contact the USCIS Contact Center.

In-Person Appointments Suspended

USCIS has implemented several changes due to the Corona Virus (COVID-19) related to the processing of petitions and the completion of forms. USCIS has suspended in-person services in-person services at all field offices, asylum offices and Application Support Centers (ASCs), including the collection of biometrics, through at least May 3, 2020. USCIS will provide limited emergency services which must be coordinated through the USCIS Contact Center.

Meaning:

  • The inability to collect biometrics and conduct in-person interviews will slow the adjudication of associated benefits, including applications for employment authorization, advance parole travel documents, and adjustment of status (“green card”) applications, among others.
  • Field offices will send notices to applicants and petitioners with scheduled appointments and naturalization ceremonies.
  • Asylum offices will send interview cancellation notices and automatically reschedule asylum interviews; applicants will receive a new interview notice with the new time, date and location.
  • 65, Application for Employment Authorization, extension will hav
  • ASCs will be automatically reschedule biometrics appointments when normal scheduling resumes and will send new appointment letters in the mail.
  • Individuals with InfoPass or other appointments must reschedule through the USCIS Contact Center once field offices are open to the public.

Extensions of Employment Authorization Documents

Applicants who had an appointment scheduled with an ASC after their closure on March 18 or who have filed a Form I-7e their application processed using previously submitted biometrics. This announcement is consistent with existing USCIS authorities regarding the agency’s ability to reuse previously submitted biometrics. This will remain in effect until ASCs resume normal operations.

Flexibility in Submitting Signed Petitions and Applications

USCIS will temporarily accept all benefit forms and documents with reproduced original signatures, for submissions dated March 21, 2020 and after.

Meaning:

  • For forms that require an original “wet” signature, USCIS will accept electronically reproduced original signatures. This temporary change only applies to signatures – all other form instructions should be followed.
  • This means that a document may be scanned, faxed, photocopied, or similarly reproduced provided that the copy must be of an original document containing an original handwritten signature, unless otherwise specified.
  • Individuals or entities that submit documents bearing an electronically reproduced original signature must retain copies of the original documents containing the “wet” signature.
  • USCIS may, at any time, request the original signed documents, which, if not produced, could negatively impact the adjudication of the immigration benefit.

Naturalization Oath Ceremonies 

  • As of March 18, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has temporarily suspended routine in-person services through at least May 3 to help slow the spread of COVID-19. USCIS staff will continue to perform duties that do not involve contact with the public.
  • 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.

Automatic Extension of Some Filing Deadlines

On March 27, 2020 USCIS announced that it would extend response deadlines for some requests for evidence (RFEs) and notices of intent to deny (NOIDs).

Meaning:    

  • For applicants and petitioners who receive an RFE or NOID dated between March 1, 2020 and May 1, 2020, a response will be considered timely submitted if it is received at USCIS within 60 calendar days after the response deadline set in the RFE or NOID.
  • If an RFE or NOID is dated prior to March 1, 2020, applicants and petitioners must respond by the specified deadline.

Ongoing Updates

The situation is rapidly evolving. USCIS continues to follow CDC guidelines and posts updates at USCIS.gov.  This site should be checked regularly.

Immigration Courts Status During Corona Virus (COVID-19)

Most immigration courts are still open, but many hearings are cancelled. Right now, all courts have cancelled ‘non-detained’ hearings between March 16 – May 1. If your hearing is cancelled, they will reschedule it later.

You can see a daily update at the immigration courts website. Updates are listed by court location: 

https://www.justice.gov/eoir/eoir-operational-status-during-coronavirus-pandemic.

The court is also posting updates on their Facebook page: 

https://www.facebook.com/doj.eoir/

Hotline: 1-800-898-7180 /  304-625-2050

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