How COVID 19 is Changing the Immigration Application Process
There are many questions about how U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is processing applications amid the COVID 19 outbreak. Like many governmental agencies and businesses, USCIS has made some significant changes in the last few weeks in response to the outbreak. Given the nature of this crisis, the situation remains fluid, but thanks to information received from the USCIS and the American Immigration Counsel, these are some of the current changes of which we are aware:
- All USCIS offices are currently closed.
All USCIS offices are currently closed until May 4, 2020. All routine in-person services have been suspended through that date. USCIS staff will continue to perform work that does not involve contact with the public and provide limited emergency services. Scheduled interview appointments or naturalization ceremonies will automatically be rescheduled once normal operations resume.
- All biometrics appointments have been suspended.
All biometrics appointments have been suspended until further notice. When USCIS resumes normal operations, USCIS will automatically reschedule these Application Support Center appointments due to the temporary office closure. If you do not receive a new appointment notice by mail within 90 days, call 800-375-5283.
- Requests for Evidence and Notices of Intent to Deny have been given extensions.
For applicants and petitioners who receive an RFE or NOID dated between March 1 and May 1, 2020, any responses submitted within 60 calendar days after the response date set forth in the RFE or NOID will be considered by USCIS before any action is taken.
- Naturalization Oath Ceremonies have been put on hold.
Again, all in-person services have been suspended through May 3, 2020, including Naturalization Oath Ceremonies. USCIS will automatically reschedule ceremonies. Applicants will receive a notice for their rescheduled ceremonies by mail. An applicant should reach out to the USCIS Contact Center if he or she does not receive a notice within 90 days.
- Employment Authorizations have been extended.
Applicants who had an appointment scheduled with an ASC after their closure on March 18 or who have filed a Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization) extension, will have 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.
- Signature requirements have been waived.
USCIS has temporarily waived the requirement for original signatures on applications, petitions, and other documents for submissions dated March 21, 2020, and beyond. USCIS will now accept signatures that have been scanned, faxed, photocopied or similarly reproduced.
These are some of the changes USCIS has currently implemented in the immigration application process during this national crisis. Be sure to go to the USCIS website, https://www.uscis.gov/, for the most up-to-date notifications. We at Dozier Miller Law Group are continuing to work on your immigration cases. We are available by email and telephone to answer your questions and begin work on your matter today. Our immigration attorneys are George Miller ( [email protected] ) and David Kernodle ( [email protected] ). Our office number is 704-372-6373. We look forward to working with you.
- S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, https://www.uscis.gov/about-us/uscis-response-coronavirus-2019-covid-19
- Katy Murdza, How the Coronavirus is Disrupting USCIS Processing of Immigration Applications, Immigration Impact Blog (March 25, 2020), https://immigrationimpact.com/2020/03/25/coronavirus-uscis-immigration-applications/#.Xo3bBshKiUk