Your Sumner Immigration Law team is with you as we face the COVID-19 health crisis together. We have fielded lots of questions the past few days. While we don’t have a lot of answers yet, we’d like to make sure everyone has the information that we do know now, and we’ll continue to update as we have more information.
Sumner Immigration Law Team: Our team has transitioned to working remotely as of March 17th. Select team members will go into the office as needed to collect and process mail, receive packages, and assemble, scan, and file petitions and applications. Our team should be available by phone and email as usual. If you are not able to get through by phone, please email the team member you are trying to contact and we will contact you as soon as possible. We are also continuing consultations, though we are now doing those by Zoom. We ask that you not drop by the office to drop documents or make payments at this point. If you need to do that, please contact us via email and we will help you make other arrangements so as to minimize contact and the spread of germs.
How Will This Impact My Case?
If you have not yet started a case but you are thinking of doing so, this is a great time to set a consultation with us to discuss your options and to develop a strategy! Even if you do not take action immediately because of the uncertainty, it’s smart to be familiar with your options and have a proactive plan that you’re ready to set in motion. We are still doing consultations, and we welcome you to set a time for a consultation here.
If you have a case pending now:
If your case is with USCIS:
- All USCIS local field offices and Applicant Support Centers (ASCs, where fingerprint notices are completed) are closed until at least April 1st. If you had a fingerprinting appointment or interview scheduled between now and then, it will automatically be rescheduled and you should receive a notice in the mail (and we should too).
- It is possible that the closure will be extended. If it is, we will post that information on our website here (on the blog), and on social media.
- Oath ceremonies for newly approved naturalization applicants will likely be delayed; again, we will let you know if we receive notice of this for your specific case.
- Case processing: at this time we are not aware of delays in case processing due to the COVID-19 outbreak. It is our understanding that it is possible for USCIS officers to work remotely. However, if interviews must be rescheduled, or if lots of officers are out sick, that may impact case processing times. Again, at this time no anticipated delays have been announced.
- At this time, we also expect that the H-1B cap process including the lottery, will still proceed as planned.
If your case is processing or will be processed through a US consulate overseas:
- Many US consulates are closing for interviews. Again, please be sure to check the website of the consulate you are attending before you go for an interview. You may also check this page: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/COVID-19-Country-Specific-Information.html.
- Just because consulates are closing for interviews does not mean that officers are not able to work on cases. They will likely be able to work remotely.
General travel restrictions:
As you know, the US president has implemented certain travel restrictions for Europe and other areas of the world. If you choose to leave the US during this crisis, please keep in mind that travel restrictions could change while you are out of the US, such that you would not be permitted to re-enter the US within the timeframe that you anticipate. If you do plan to re-enter the US, please make sure to have proper documentation to show that you can be re-admitted (that you are a US citizen or permanent resident, that you have not traveled to affected areas, etc).
As there are further changes or updates that may significantly impact our clients, we will post that information on our website and share via email and social media. AILA (American Immigration Lawyers Association) is working hard to push for temporary solutions to these challenging times, such as allowing for scanned signatures, extending deadlines, etc. At this time no such changes have been made or approved, but we will let you know if/when they are.
In the meantime, please know that we stand beside each of our clients and their families as we all navigate this especially challenging time together. We are here to answer questions, help you come up with strategies to deal with changes in plans, and help you be proactively prepared for taking action when the virus passes. We look forward to continuing to assist you!
We are immigration lawyers in Richmond, VA but we serve clients throughout the US and around the world. You can call us at 804-396-3412 or send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.