In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services temporarily suspended routine in-person services on March 18, 2020. During this time, they continued to provide limited emergency services. However, USCIS is preparing to open some domestic offices and resume non-emergency public services on or after June 4. With this ahead, it is important to know what to expect. Offices will be reducing the number of appointments to ensure social distancing and allot time for cleaning. Continue reading below to learn more about this.
USCIS asylum offices will automatically reschedule any interviews that were cancelled throughout the temporary closures. These applicants will receive notice with the new time, date, and location of the interview in addition to important safety precautions. In order to follow social distancing guidelines, these offices expect to conduct video asylum interviews where applicants and interviewing officers can sit in different rooms than one another.
For an affirmative asylum interview, the applicants must bring all immediate family members who are listed as dependents on their application. They must also bring an interpreter if they do not speak English. In addition to this, a representative, witness, individual providing disability accommodations or “trusted adult” for a minor applicant, may attend the interview.
For non-detained credible or reasonable fear interviews, the applicant must bring any family members listed on the interview notice. A representative may attend credible and reasonable fear interviews but are encouraged to do so telephonically. Contracted, professional interpreters for credible and reasonable fear interviews will be provided by USCIS.
Those who had their naturalization ceremony postponed during the pandemic will receive notice of a rescheduling from USCIS. The ceremonies may be shorter to limit exposure. In addition to this, instead of playing videos, attendees can receive a flyer with information and links to USCIS’ website. All legally required parts of the ceremony will take place. Attendance will also be limited to the candidate and those providing assistance to disabled persons.
Interviews and Appointments
USCIS will send notice to applicants and petitioners who had previously scheduled appointments and interviews. Individuals with other appointments must reschedule through the USCIS Contact Center once the field offices are open. Visitors are limited to the applicant, a representative, a family member, and one person providing disability accommodations. Applicants who need an interpreter should have one available by phone.
Application Support Centers
ASC appointments that were previously cancelled will also be rescheduled by USCIS. A new appointment letter will be received in the mail with safety requirements. Those who appear at a non-designated date and time may encounter processing delays, except for military members.
Safety Guidelines for Entering USCIS Facilities
The following are the proper safety measures all individuals entering a USCIS office must implement:
- 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.
If you feel sick, do not go to your appointment. Follow the instructions on your appointment notice to reschedule for when you are healthy. There is no penalty for rescheduling an appointment if you are sick.
Contact our Firm
The Law Offices of Cheryl R. David practices immigration law throughout NYC. Immigration is a sensitive issue, which is why you should consider a compassionate, experienced, and aggressive immigration attorney who will guide you every step of the way. If you have questions about your particular matters regarding immigration please do not hesitate to contact our office to discuss your circumstances and options.