USCIS and Department of State are both slowly reopening following Covid-related closures. However, both agencies have changed their practices to adapt to the ongoing pandemic. Here are the policy and scheduling changes we are seeing as of September 2020:
- USCIS furlough is cancelled – for now! USCIS has cancelled the furlough that was supposed to begin August 30th. Agency representatives said that they have identified cost-saving measures, and that they are seeing “a steady increase in daily incoming revenue and receipts.” USCIS anticipates having enough funding to operate through the end of the fiscal year (which ends September 30th).
- However, USCIS leaders have suggested that “aggressive spending cuts” will impact all agency operations. That will likely translate to longer case processing times.
- We are seeing that interviews are being scheduled for marriage-based cases and naturalizations. Our office has not yet seen employment-based interviews being scheduled. USCIS has confirmed that they are working through interviews in a first-in, first-out basis. Please keep in mind that different field offices have different scheduling capabilities, so it’s often not helpful to compare the timeline for your case to that of your friend who lives in a different city/state.
- If you do go to USCIS, please review the safety protocols on your appointment notice and on their website before going; they are requiring masks, not allowing children or other people to accompany applicants, etc.
Department of State:
- K-1 Visas – Breaking News: As of late in the day September 1, the Dept of State announced that “as it becomes safe to resume more consular operations at each U.S. mission, posts are
authorized to give K visa cases high priority.” This is excellent news; previously we had no guidance from DOS as to whether K-1s were included in the April 22 proclamation. None of our K-1 clients were being scheduled for interviews, even as consulates were re-opening. Further, some consular posts actually told us that the K-1s were subject to the proclamation and that they would resume K-1 interviews after the proclamation ended. In most cases, consulates will extend the validity of the I-129F if it has expired due to the Covid closures. We are in touch with our current K-1 clients, but if you have questions, please do not hesitate to contact us. We are very excited for this positive development!
- Immigrant Visa Interviews: We are not seeing that immigrant visa interviews are being scheduled regularly yet. Some clients who had interviews pre-Covid have recently received their immigrant visas, which is a good sign. We are hopeful that consulates will resume regular immigrant visa interviews soon.
- Nonimmigrant visa interviews: These seem to depend on the consulate. We have had some clients who have been able to schedule interviews, but it depends on the consulate, and what type of visa the applicant is seeking (whether the visa type is subject to the June 2020 proclamation). Foreign nationals wishing to enter the US must also be aware of quarantine requirements and Covid-related travel restrictions.
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.