USCIS Announces Plans to Resume Certain Public-Facing Services on June 4
Beginning on June 4, 2020, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) plans to reopen and resume certain non-emergency, public services which were closed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since March 18, USCIS has suspended routine, in-person services at field offices, asylum offices, and application support centers (ASCs), which are now being reopened on an office-by-office basis. Individuals can check that the USCIS facility which they are seeking to visit will be open here.
General Guidelines and Procedures
USCIS is anticipated to have a reduced number of appointments and interviews to allow for social distancing and sanitization. Appointment notices may contain information about safety requirements and procedures, with the following general guidelines announced by USCIS:
- 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 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.
The announcement from USCIS indicates that there will be no penalty for rescheduling an appointment due to illness.
The following offices and services are anticipated to be resumed:
Interviews and Appointments
USCIS has announced that it will be sending new notices to petitioners and applicants whose appointments and interviews were previously scheduled by USCIS and postponed. Other appointments which were scheduled by the applicant may need to be affirmatively rescheduled through the USCIS Contact Center once the applicable field office is open to the public.
Attendance at appointments is generally limited to the applicant or petitioner, one legal representative, one family member, and one individual providing assistance to a disabled petitioner or applicant. If an additional person is required to serve as an interpreter, USCIS requests that the interpreter be available by phone.
Application Support Centers
USCIS will be automatically rescheduling ASC appointments which were cancelled by USCIS during the temporary closures. Applicants should receive a new appointment notice in the mail with a specific date, time, and address location. During the temporary closures, USCIS processed certain applications where recent biometrics were available and waived the ASC appointments, but significant backlogs in appointment availability may still be anticipated due to the closures and to comply with social distancing and other CDC guidelines.
USCIS will be sending new notices for applicants to reschedule postponed naturalization ceremonies. These ceremonies are anticipated to comply with CDC guidelines, be shorter in duration to the extent permissible by law, and allow for only the applicant and those necessary to assist disabled applicants to attend.
USCIS asylum offices will be automatically rescheduling interviews which were cancelled as a result of the temporary closures. When an interview is rescheduled, asylum applicants should receive a new interview notice with the specific time, date, and address location for the interview along with information about safety precautions. These appointments are expected to utilize video-facilitated interviews to maintain social distancing along with other measures to comply with CDC guidelines.
Foster will continue to monitor USCIS reopening of their facilities and make these and other COVID-19 related updates available on our website and in future Immigration Updates©.