By Samantha Davis & Nikita Hernandez
On June 18, 2020 USCIS held a webinar open to the public to discuss their reopening procedures and intended schedules. Please see a summary below and how it may affect your case.
On March 18, USCIS temporarily suspended routine in-person services at its field offices, asylum offices and application support centers (ASCs) to help slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). USCIS announced they were preparing some domestic offices to reopen and resume non-emergency public services on or after June 4. Even though USCIS is slowly reopening and establishing normal practices, they announced they intend to reopen in phases, beginning on July 13, 2020.
USCIS has confirmed they are prioritizing rescheduling naturalization oath ceremonies over other appointment types, and will then resume scheduling biometrics (fingerprinting) and other case interviews, hopefully by the end of July 2020. USCIS reasoned that naturalization oath ceremonies take less time and are generally safer to conduct than other interviews.
At this point we don’t have information on when specific offices are opening, which specific offices are opening, etc., but this is on the horizon. For the latest information on the status of individual offices, check our office closures page. We will of course let you know when we have more information about our clients’ specific case/interview/appointment, etc. As a reminder, USCIS will automatically reschedule these appointments and mail you and our office a new notice.
At this time, USCIS will not be allowing walk-ins so please only show up on the day and at the time listed on your appointment notice. If you are not feeling well, are restricted from entering according to the below guidelines or simply feel unsafe about attending your appointment, you may reschedule your appointment with no penalty.
Those attending appointments should follow the safety guidelines outlined below.
Guidelines for Entering USCIS Facilities
- Visitors may not enter a USCIS facility if they:
- Have any symptoms of COVID-19, including cough, fever or difficulty breathing;
- Have been in close contact with anyone known or suspected to have COVID-19 in the last 14 days; or
- Have been individually directed to self-quarantine or self-isolate by a health care provider or public health official within the last 14 days.
- Visitors may not enter the facility more than 15 minutes prior to their appointment (30 minutes for naturalization ceremonies).
- Hand sanitizer will be provided for visitors at entry points.
- Members of the public over the age of 2 must wear facial coverings that cover both the mouth and nose when entering facilities. Visitors may be directed to briefly remove their face covering to confirm identity or take their photograph.
- There will be markings and physical barriers in the facility; visitors should pay close attention to these signs to ensure they follow social distancing guidelines.
- Individuals are encouraged to bring their own black or blue ink pens.
When you do attend your interview, biometrics appointment or oath ceremony there may be changes to the normal USCIS office procedures. Interviews may be conducted by an officer in a separate room from you asking the questions via video. For those attending biometrics appointments, you will now be required to complete a worksheet ahead of your appointment and bring it with you rather than completing it while at the office. Additionally, naturalization oath ceremonies will be restricted to those taking the oath and may be shortened. You may receive supplemental information from USCIS with additional instructions for your ceremony such as watching a video ahead of time so please review any additional information you receive before your ceremony.
Our understanding is that USCIS officers were able to work remotely during the stay at home orders, but there will be a backlog of cases to work through for fingerprinting, interviews, and oath ceremonies. Please also keep in mind that if there is a resurgence of cases, USCIS may need to close for in-person interviews/appointments again in the future. We certainly understand any anxiety stemming from this unanticipated delay and we will continue to provide client updates as significant changes occur.
We are here to help you navigate the immigration maze with peace of mind and confidence. Contact Sumner Immigration Law to set a consultation to create your strategy today! 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. We look forward to hearing from you.