Update: President Trump extended the restrictive social distancing in the US to May 3, 2020. This is in anticipation of a wider spread of the deadly Coronovairus that has already claimed over 2000 lives and infected close to 150,000 in the US alone. This social distancing is applicable to all USCIS offices and application Service Centers that conduct in-person activities.
Since these USCIS offices are already functioning on a skeleton staff, applicants who had interviews or other appointments scheduled for this time-frame should expect to get a notice in the mail regarding rescheduling. For those with an InfoPass, should call their local USCIS office to reschedule their appointment.
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The last announcement regarding USCIS office closures was until April 7, 2020 and all in-person services were suspended in all field offices and Application Service Centers until further notice. For now, all appointments including visa interviews and biometric stand cancelled. USCIS will send out notices to reschedule once operations resume.
The last update was on March 18, 2020. In compliance with the national emergency declared by President Trump in the US due to the Coronavirus Pandemic, operations in several United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) offices were altered. With immigration officers and service employees being asked to work remotely, all immigration related in-person services including appointments were originally suspended until April 1, 2020. USCIS offices will be minimally staffed for emergency operations only.
Promoting social distancing to prevent further spread of Coronavirus, 13,000 USCIS employees have started to telecommute starting March 16, 2020. This is going to impact immigration services at all levels at USCIS.
This Is How Coronavirus Is Changing US Immigration Services
- All non-emergent services are temporarily suspended until further notice. Emergency services will continue to be provided
- Suspension of all in-person and face-to-face services like citizenship interviews, biometric appointments and naturalization ceremonies until April 1, 2020 This is a tentative date and given the pandemic situation, it may be extended to a later date.
- Applicants will be able to reschedule appointments without penalty. However, they should wait for instructions as to date and process to reschedule.
- H1-B beneficiaries traveling to get their H1-B visa stamped/extended outside of the US should first check with respective USCIS centers if they are accepting such cases.
- If travel isn’t required in order to maintain an employee’s status, you are advised to postpone travel for visa purposes for at least eight weeks
- Due to updated Coronavirus travel bans, H1B employees leaving the country could be denied re-entry. H1-B dependent employers should be mindful of the travel advisory before business travel is enforced.
- As for asylum cases, USCIS offices will send interview cancellation notices and automatically reschedule asylum interviews. Applicants will be notified within the next two weeks via postal mail.
- Certain visa applications, acceptance of documents, completed application packets, etc. will continue to be accepted via postal services.
- Making personal visits at the counter at any USCIS office is strongly discouraged unless an appointment is confirmed first.
- Since CDC guideline requires restrictions on gatherings of more than 35 people, any walk-in immigration petitioner or unscheduled visitor will be asked to leave.
- With the same crowd-limit restriction in mind, US Naturalization ceremonies have been cancelled. These ceremonies are being rescheduled for September 2020.
- While individuals over the age of 60 or pregnant women are in certain cases, eligible for same-day oath-taking options, they should talk to an immigration officer if they qualify.
- The IRS has made a tax exception for legal immigrants and non-immigrants on H1-B visas, their dependents on H4 visas and L1 and L2 visa holders who have High Deductible Health Plans (HDHP) and eligible for HSA plans to continue contributing to their HSA even if their plan covers for Coronavirus testing and treatments.
- Immigration Courts are shutting in some parts of US to arrest the spread of Coronavirus. Immigration cases are either being postponed or transferred to other courts.
For more updates, stay tuned to this page for the latest on Coronavirus and US Immigration