USCIS Response to COVID-19

On March 18, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services temporarily suspended routine in-person services to help slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). USCIS plans to begin reopening our offices on or after June 4, unless the public closures are extended further. USCIS staff are continuing to perform duties that do not involve face-to-face contact with the public. However, USCIS will provide emergency services for limited situations. To schedule an emergency appointment, contact the USCIS Contact Center.

During this time, individuals may still submit applications and petitions to USCIS. Online filing remains the most convenient and interactive way to submit forms, check the status of your case, and receive notices.

USCIS will provide further updates to this page as the situation develops and will continue to follow CDC guidance.

Field Office Appointments and Rescheduling

  • As of March 18, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has temporarily suspended routine in-person services through at least June 3 to help slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). USCIS staff will continue to perform duties that do not involve contact with the public. However, USCIS will provide emergency services for limited situations. To schedule an emergency appointment contact the USCIS Contact Center.
  • USCIS domestic field offices will send notices with instructions to applicants and petitioners with scheduled interview appointments impacted by this closure. They will automatically be rescheduled once normal operations resume.
  • Individuals who had InfoPass appointments with a Field Office must reschedule through the USCIS Contact Center.  
  • Please check the USCIS office closings page to see if your field office has reopened before reaching out to the USCIS Contact Center.

Application Support Center (ASC) Appointments and Rescheduling

Current ASC Appointments

  • As of March 18, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has temporarily suspended all biometrics appointments. USCIS staff will continue to perform duties that do not involve contact with the public.
  • When USCIS resumes normal operations, USCIS will automatically reschedule Application Support Center appointments due to the temporary office closure. If you do not receive a new appointment notice by mail within 90 days, call 800-375-5283.
  • Please check the USCIS office closings page to see if your ASC has reopened before coming to an appointment.

Note: USCIS is unable to automatically re-schedule appointments for Canadian and United Kingdom visa applicants.

  • Canada Visa Applicants: visit the Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada website for updated information.
  • UK Visa Applicants: visit the UK Visas and Immigration website for updated information.
  • Extensions of EAD Document: Applicants who had an appointment scheduled with an ASC after their closure on March 18 or who have filed a Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, extension will have their application processed using previously submitted biometrics. This announcement is consistent with existing USCIS authorities regarding the agency’s ability to reuse previously submitted biometrics. This will remain in effect until ASCs resume normal operations. See our alert for more information. 
  • While biometric services (or other authorized collection sites) are temporarily suspended and/or operations are at reduced capacity, USCIS will reuse biometrics that were previously captured at the initial USCIS in-person appointment under certain circumstances and only when specific requirements are met. USCIS will reuse biometrics if:
    • USCIS is otherwise ready to adjudicate the open application, petition, or benefit request but cannot proceed solely due to the lack of current biometrics;
    • The individual previously submitted fingerprints and a photograph at an ASC (or other authorized collection site);
    • There is an exact A-file number, name, and date of birth match between the pending filing and the previous filing from which the biometrics were collected; and the individual:
      • Was scheduled for an ASC appointment that was canceled since the temporary closure of ASCs on March 18, 2020,
      • Is unable to schedule an ASC appointment (or appointment for biometrics collection at an embassy or consulate, where applicable); or
      • Filed a benefit request with an associated biometrics requirement after March 18, 2020.

If these requirements are met, a biometrics appointment is not required. This will remain in effect during the COVID-19 pandemic and will automatically expire on Sept. 1, 2020, unless expressly extended by the USCIS deputy director for policy.

Asylum Appointments

USCIS asylum offices will send interview cancellation notices and automatically reschedule asylum interviews. When the interview is rescheduled, asylum applicants will receive a new interview notice with the new time, date, and location for the interview.

  • Please contact the asylum offices by email, mail, or phone. Contact information for each asylum office is found using the Asylum Office Locator. If you have an asylum application pending with us, you can check your case status online. You will need the receipt number that we mailed you after you filed your application. Start here: www.uscis.gov/casestatus.
  • Please check the USCIS office closings page to see if your asylum office  has reopened before coming to an appointment.

Naturalization Oath Ceremonies 

  •  As of March 18, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has temporarily suspended routine in-person services through at least June 3 to help slow the spread of COVID-19. USCIS plans to begin reopening our offices on or after June 4, unless the public closures are extended further. USCIS staff will continue to perform duties that do not involve contact with the public.
  • USCIS will automatically reschedule your ceremony. You will receive a notice for your rescheduled ceremony by mail. If you do not receive a notice within 90 days, please reach out to the USCIS Contact Center.
  • In certain limited situations, USCIS may be able to perform small naturalization ceremonies for limited numbers of applicants, when it is feasible and all appropriate precautions can be taken.
  • Applicants who are requesting a name change must wait for a judicial ceremony.

Deadlines for Certain Requests, Notices, and Appeals

USCIS will consider a response received within 60 calendar days after the response due date set forth in the following requests or notices before taking any action if such request or notice was issued by USCIS between March 1 and July 1, 2020, inclusive: 

  • Request for Evidence;
  • Continuations to Request Evidence (N-14);
  • Notice of Intent to Deny;
  • Notice of Intent to Revoke;
  • Notice of Intent to Rescind; and
  • Notice of Intent to Terminate.
  • Request for a Hearing on a Decision in Naturalization Proceedings (Under Section 336 of the INA)

In addition, USCIS will consider a Notice of Appeal or Motion filed on Form I-290B if filed 60 calendar days from the issuance of a decision by USCIS, if such decision is was issued between March 1 and July 1, 2020, inclusive. See our alert for more information.

Update: USCIS Temporarily Amends Certain H-2A Requirements During COVID-19 Public Health Emergency

On April 20, 2020, the Department of Homeland Security and USCIS published a temporary final rule to amend certain H-2A requirements to help U.S. agricultural employers avoid disruptions in lawful agricultural-related employment, protect the nation’s food supply chain, and lessen impacts from the coronavirus (COVID-19) public health emergency.

Due to travel restrictions and visa processing limitations as a result of actions taken to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, as well as the possibility that some H-2A workers may become unavailable due to COVID-19 related illness, U.S. employers who have approved H-2A petitions or who will be filing H-2A petitions might not receive all of the workers requested to fill the temporary positions, and similarly, employers that currently employ H-2A workers may lose the services of workers due to COVID-19 related illness.

Under this temporary final rule, all H-2A petitioners with a valid temporary labor certification (TLC) can now start employing certain foreign workers who are currently in the United States and in valid H-2A status immediately after USCIS receives the H-2A petition, but no earlier than the start date of employment listed on the petition.

Additionally, USCIS is temporarily amending its regulations to allow H-2A workers to stay beyond the three-year maximum allowable period of stay in the United States. These temporary changes will encourage and facilitate the lawful employment of foreign temporary and seasonal agriculture workers during the COVID-19 national emergency.

The temporary final rule is effective immediately upon publication in the Federal Register. If the new petition is approved, the H-2A worker will be able to stay in the United States for a period of time not to exceed the validity period of the Temporary Labor Certification. DHS will issue a new temporary final rule in the Federal Register to amend the termination date in the event DHS determines that circumstances demonstrate a continued need for the temporary changes to the H-2A regulations.   

It is important to note to the public that this temporary final rule does not amend the Department of Labor’s (DOL’s) regulations covering the labor market test and recruitment of U.S. workers for the H-2A process. Before filing an H-2A petition with DHS, the H-2A petitioner must have obtained a valid TLC from DOL for the job opportunity the employer seeks to fill with an H-2A worker(s). This final rule is not a joint rule with DOL, and USCIS is not proposing changes to DOL’s H-2A TLC process or its regulations.

Update: Temporary Policy Changes for Certain Foreign Medical Graduates During the COVID-19 National Emergency 

During, and in response to, the coronavirus (COVID-19) public health emergency, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) continues to take action to protect U.S. workers while also providing resources needed to combat the spread of COVID-19.

USCIS is providing guidance (PDF, 341 KB) to officers in relation to former J-1 foreign medical graduate physicians who have received a waiver of the two-year foreign residence requirement under section 212(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.  

These foreign medical graduates are former J-1 exchange visitors who currently practice medicine in the United States as H-1B nonimmigrant physicians based on interest from a government agency, or through the Conrad State 30 program created by Congress.  

USCIS is providing flexibilities for these foreign medical graduates who are assisting in the fight against COVID-19—saving lives, reducing the strain on over-worked hospital workers, and improving access to necessary medical care. These flexibilities include:

  • Telehealth. USCIS will allow these physicians to deliver telehealth services during the COVID-19 public health emergency, provided the physicians continue to serve their intended population. USCIS notes that if an employer offers these foreign medical graduates the flexibility to telework from their home, it must offer those same flexibilities to its U.S. workers similarly employed. 

  • Waiver of Certain Immigration Consequences of Failing to Meet the Full-Time Work Requirement. USCIS will not consider these physicians to have violated their contracts with their employers if they are temporarily unable to work full-time due to illness, reduced hours at healthcare facilities, or other impacts related to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a limited flexibility and only relates to the foreign medical graduate’s eligibility for future immigration benefits that would be affected by the re-imposition of the two-year home residence requirement as the result of a contract violation. It does not otherwise affect a petitioning employer’s responsibilities under the statutes and regulations relating to H-1B nonimmigrants.

Extension of Stay/Change of Status Filing Delays Caused by Extraordinary Circumstances Related to COVID-19

Generally, nonimmigrants must depart the United States before their authorized period of admission expires. However, we recognize that nonimmigrants may unexpectedly remain in the United States beyond their authorized period of stay should apply for an extension or change of status in advance. Should this occur, the following options are available to nonimmigrants:

Apply for an Extension. Most nonimmigrants can mitigate the immigration consequences of COVID-19 by timely filing an application for extension of stay (EOS) or change in status (COS). U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services continues to accept and process applications and petitions, and many of our forms are available for online filing. 

If You File in a Timely Manner. Nonimmigrants generally do not accrue unlawful presence while the timely-filed, non-frivolous EOS/COS application is pending. Where applicable, employment authorization with the same employer, subject to the same terms and conditions of the prior approval, is automatically extended for up to 240 days after I-94 expiration when an extension of stay request is filed on time.

Flexibility for Late Applications. USCIS may excuse a nonimmigrant’s failure to timely file an extension/change of status request if the delay was due to extraordinary circumstances. Under current regulations and as noted on our Special Situations page, if a petitioner or applicant files an extension of stay or change of status request (on Forms I-129 or I-539) after the authorized period of admission expires, USCIS may excuse the failure to timely file if it was due to extraordinary circumstances beyond their control, such as those that may be caused by COVID-19. The length of delay must be commensurate with the circumstances. The petitioner or applicant must submit credible evidence to support their request, which USCIS will evaluate in its discretion on a case-by-case basis. These special situations have been used at various times in the past, including for natural disasters and similar crises.

Flexibility for Visa Waiver Entrants. Visa Waiver Program (VWP) entrants are generally not eligible to extend their stay or change status. However, under current regulations, if an emergency (such as COVID-19) prevents the departure of a VWP entrant, USCIS in its discretion may grant up to 30 days to allow for satisfactory departure. Please see 8 CFR 217.3(a). For those VWP entrants already granted satisfactory departure and unable to depart within this 30-day period because of COVID-19 related issues, USCIS has the authority to temporarily provide additional 30-day periods of satisfactory departure. To request satisfactory departure from USCIS, a VWP entrant should call the USCIS Contact Center.

For More Information. Please see 8 CFR 214.1(c)(4) and 8 CFR 248.1(c) for additional information on late requests to extend or change status. In addition, please see our Form I-129 and Form I-539 pages for specific filing and eligibility requirements for extensions and changes of status.

 

    Special Situations

    • Learn about measures to assist you in extreme situations on our Special Situations page.

     

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