USCIS Response to COVID-19

Offices Open, With Cautionary Measures

USCIS domestic field offices and asylum offices are open with additional precautions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). In DHS-controlled spaces, this guidance supersedes state, local, tribal, or territorial rules and regulations regarding face coverings.

In areas of high or substantial transmission (CDC COVID-19 Data Tracker County View), all federal employees, contractors, and visitors must wear a mask inside federal buildings.

All federal employees, on-site contractors, and visitors must continue to follow local USCIS guidance on physical distancing and workplace protection guidance consistent with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and agency guidance.

You may not enter a USCIS facility if you have:

  • COVID-19 or any symptoms of COVID-19 (according to the CDC), including, but not limited to, recently developed cough, fever, difficulty breathing, new loss of smell or taste, fatigue, muscle aches, headache, congestion, sore throat, or vomiting (this list does not include all symptoms);
  • Been in close contact (within 6 feet for a total of 15 minutes or more) with anyone known to have COVID-19 in the past 14 days (unless you are fully vaccinated,* or you are a health care worker and consistently wear an N95 respirator and proper personal protective equipment (PPE) or equivalent when in contact with COVID-19 positive individuals);
  • Returned from domestic, international, or cruise ship travel in the past 10 days (unless you are fully vaccinated);
  • Been instructed by a health care provider, public health authority, or government entity to self-isolate or self-quarantine in the past 14 days (unless you have been cleared to end isolation or quarantine).

*Fully vaccinated means it has been at least two weeks since you received your second dose in a two-dose series, or at least two weeks since you received a single-dose vaccine.

If you need to reschedule your appointment, call the USCIS Contact Center at 800-375-5283 (TTY 800-767-1833). To reschedule your appointment with an asylum office, please follow the instructions in your interview notice.

You may not enter the facility more than 15 minutes before your appointment (30 minutes for naturalization ceremonies).

USCIS will provide hand sanitizer at entry points.

If face coverings are required at the office that you are visiting and you do not have an acceptable one, we may offer a replacement.

There will be markings and physical barriers in the facility; you should pay close attention to these signs to ensure you and others can follow social distancing guidelines.

You may have to answer health screening questions before entering a facility.

We encourage you to bring your own black or blue ink pens.

Appointment notices will include more instructions for visiting USCIS facilities. For more information, see our USCIS Visitor Policy page.

Guidelines for Entering USCIS Facilities

In all areas of the country, all USCIS employees, on-site contractors, and visitors, regardless of vaccination status or level of COVID-19 transmission in your local area, are required to wear a mask inside all DHS and USCIS workspaces and federal buildings. All federal employees, on-site contractors, and visitors must continue to follow local USCIS guidance on physical distancing and workplace protection guidance consistent with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and agency guidance.

  • You may not enter a USCIS facility if you:
    • Have any symptoms of COVID-19, including a recently developed cough, fever, difficulty breathing, new loss of smell or taste, fatigue, muscle aches, headache, congestion, sore throat, or vomiting (list is not all-inclusive);
    • Have been in close contact (within 6 feet for a total of 15 minutes or more) with anyone known to have COVID-19 in the last 14 days (unless you are fully vaccinated or you are a health care worker and consistently wear an N95 respirator and proper PPE or equivalent when in contact with COVID-19 positive individuals);
    • Have returned from domestic air, international air or cruise ship travel in the past 10 days (unless you are fully vaccinated);
    • Have been instructed to self-quarantine or self-isolate by a health care provider, public health authority or government agency within the last 14 days; or
    • Refuse to wear a face covering or mask in accordance with USCIS policy.
  • You may not enter the facility more than 15 minutes before your appointment (30 minutes for naturalization ceremonies).
  • We will provide hand sanitizer for visitors at entry points.
  • All staff and visitors must wear facial coverings, regardless of your vaccination status. Masks must cover both the mouth and nose inside USCIS facilities. We do not allow masks with exhaust valves, neck gaiters, or bandanas. If you do not have an acceptable face covering, we may offer a replacement or reschedule your appointment.
  • There will be markings and physical barriers in the facility; you must pay close attention to these signs to ensure you follow social distancing guidelines.
  • You may also have to answer health screening questions before entering a facility.
  • You should bring your own black or blue ink pens.
  • In DHS-controlled spaces, this guidance supersedes state, local, tribal, or territorial rules and regulations regarding face coverings. You are fully vaccinated if it is at least two weeks after your second dose in a two-dose series or at least two weeks after a single-dose vaccine.

More information on visiting USCIS facilities is available at uscis.gov/visitorpolicy.

Field Office Appointments and Rescheduling

USCIS field offices will send notices to applicants and petitioners with previously scheduled appointments for interviews and naturalization ceremonies. Those attending appointments should follow the safety guidelines outlined below.

If you need help with emergency document services (such as ADIT stamps or advance parole), we are working to schedule those appointments as soon as possible. You may experience slightly extended wait times as we gradually and safely resume in-person services. If you need to schedule an emergency document service, you may reach out to the USCIS Contact Center to make an appointment.

Please check to see if the respective office has been reopened by visiting our office closures page before calling the Contact Center.

Visitors are limited to the applicant, one attorney or authorized representative, and one individual providing disability assistance (who may be a family member). Attorneys and/or authorized representatives may accompany applicants to the interview or participate telephonically. If a representative chooses to participate telephonically, the applicant should notify the officer at the time of the interview who will then contact the representative via the phone number listed on the Form G-28, Notice of Entry of Appearance of Attorney or Accredited Representative.

Unless USCIS requests the interpreter to be physically present at the office for the interview, the interpreter should plan on being available by phone for the interview. The interpreter should provide the applicant with a valid phone number where they can be reached by USCIS at the time of the interview. If it is determined that an interpreter should be physically present at the interview and is unavailable at the time of the interview, the interview may be rescheduled.

If an applicant needs a Sign Language Interpreter or Certified Deaf Interpreter, they should reach out to the USCIS Contact Center online or call 1-800-375-5283 as soon as possible after receiving their interview notice.

Application Support Center (ASC) Appointments and Rescheduling

Please check the USCIS office closings page to see if your ASC is closed before coming to an appointment.

Due to added COVID-19 security measures at our ASCs, you may experience:

  • A longer wait time to receive your biometrics services appointment notice;
  • Restrictions limiting access to ASCs; and
  • Longer biometrics collection times.

Individuals with appointments may only be accompanied by an interpreter, attorney, parent/legal guardian of a minor, or individual providing assistance to a disabled person.

To reduce wait times for biometric services appointments, certain ASCs began scheduling appointments during extended hours.

The following ASCs will open for these additional hours:

Central Miami, FL

6 a.m. - 6 p.m.

Elizabeth, NJ

6 a.m. - 6 p.m.

Ft. Lauderdale, FL

6 a.m. - 6 p.m.

Hauppauge, NY

6 a.m. - 6 p.m.

Houston NW, TX

6 a.m. - 6 p.m.

Norridge, IL

6 a.m. - 6 p.m.

Oakland, CA

6 a.m. - 6 p.m.

Orlando, FL

6 a.m. - 6 p.m.

Philadelphia, PA

6 a.m. - 6 p.m.

San Jose, CA

6 a.m. - 6 p.m.

Seattle, WA

6 a.m. - 6 p.m.

Rescheduling of Cancelled ASC Appointments

USCIS will automatically reschedule any necessary ASC appointments that were cancelled due to the temporary office closure, or send notifications of biometrics reuse to eligible individuals.

Individuals who must still appear in person at an ASC will receive a new appointment letter in the mail.

Note: USCIS cannot automatically re-schedule appointments for Canadian and United Kingdom visa applicants.

Asylum Appointments

USCIS asylum offices will automatically reschedule asylum interviews that were canceled during the temporary closures. When USCIS reschedules the interview, asylum applicants will receive a new interview notice with the new time, date and location for the interview and information about safety precautions.

In accordance with social distancing guidelines, and due to the length of asylum interviews, asylum offices are conducting video-facilitated asylum interviews, where the applicants sit in one room and the interviewing officer sits in another room. Asylum offices will use available technology, including mobile devices provided by USCIS, to ensure that the officer, applicant, interpreter (if one is permitted), witnesses and legal representative can fully and safely participate in the interview while maintaining social distancing.

Asylum applicants must bring all immediate family members listed as dependents on the asylum application. Each asylum applicant may also bring a legal representative; witnesses; an individual assisting a disabled person; and a parent, guardian or “trusted adult” if the applicant is a minor.

For non-detained credible or reasonable fear interviews, applicants must bring any family members listed on the interview notice. Legal representatives or consultants may attend credible and reasonable fear interviews but are encouraged to participate telephonically. USCIS will provide contracted, professional interpreters for credible and reasonable fear interviews.

Please note the Special Instructions About Interpreters for Asylum Interviews below.

Special Instructions About Interpreters for Asylum Interviews

These instructions apply to you if you are not fluent in English and need an interpreter for your asylum interview.

If you fluently speak one of the languages listed below, you cannot bring your own interpreter and must use a USCIS contract interpreter at your asylum interview:

  • Akan
  • Albanian
  • Amharic
  • Arabic
  • Armenian
  • Azerbaijani
  • Bengali
  • Burmese
  • Cantonese
  • Creole/Haitian Creole
  • Farsi-Afghani/Dari
  • Farsi-Iranian
  • Foo Chow/Fuzhou
  • French
  • Georgian
  • Gujarati
  • Hindi
  • Hmong
  • Hungarian
  • Indonesia/Bahasa
  • Konjobal
  • Korean
  • Kurdish
  • Lingala
  • Mam
  • Mandarin
  • Nepali
  • Pashto/Pushtu
  • Portuguese
  • Punjabi
  • Quiche/K'iche
  • Romanian
  • Russian
  • Serbian
  • Sinhalese
  • Somali
  • Spanish
  • Swahili
  • Tagalog
  • Tamil
  • Tigrinya
  • Turkish
  • Twi
  • Ukrainian
  • Urdu
  • Uzbek
  • Vietnamese

USCIS will provide this interpreter free of charge. If you are not fluent in any language listed above, you must provide a competent interpreter fluent in both English and your native language or any other language in which you are fluent. Your interpreter must be 18 years or older, must not be your legal representative or witness, and must not be a representative or employee of your country of nationality (or, if stateless, your country of last habitual residence). If you are unable to provide such interpreter, you may provide an interpreter fluent in your language and one found in the list above. USCIS will provide a relay interpreter to interpret between the language listed above and English.

Those attending appointments should follow the USCIS Visitor Policy: https://www.uscis.gov/about-us/uscis-visitor-policy .

If you are feeling sick, please do not come to our office. Follow the instructions on your appointment notice to reschedule your appointment for when you are healthy. You may request to reschedule your appointment due to illness or risk of COVID-19 infection, and the delay will not be attributed to you.

Lawful Permanent Resident Status

USCIS recognizes that if you are a lawful permanent resident (LPR) who traveled outside of the United States and are or were subject to COVID-19-related travel restrictions, you may have concerns about the effect of an extended absence from the United States.

If you were delayed in returning from a trip outside of the United States due to unforeseen circumstances, such as COVID-19-related travel restrictions, the trip generally retains its temporary character and USCIS will not consider your LPR status abandoned as long as you always intended to return as soon as the original purpose of the visit was completed. For more information, see USCIS Policy Manual Volume 12, Part D, General Naturalization Requirements, Chapter 2, Lawful Permanent Residence Admission for Naturalization.

Documentary Requirements

Generally, if you are an LPR seeking to return to the United States after temporary foreign travel of less than one year, you may use your valid Form I-551, Permanent Resident Card, (also known as a Green Card) as a travel document. If you are seeking to return to the United States after temporary foreign travel of a year or more, you must present a Form I-327, Permit to Reenter, (also known as a reentry permit) or a Returning Resident (SB-1) immigrant visa. If you have been outside of the United States for a year or more without a reentry permit or beyond the validity of your reentry permit, you should consider contacting the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate to discuss your situation. For more information, visit the U.S. Department of State website.

Continuous Residence and Physical Presence Requirements for Naturalization

If you are an applicant for naturalization, you must generally have resided continuously in the United States after your lawful permanent resident (LPR) admission for at least five years before filing your naturalization application and up to the time of naturalization. You must also establish that you have resided in the state or service district having jurisdiction over the application for three months prior to filing.

In addition, you are generally required to have been physically present in the United States for at least half the time for which your continuous residence is required.

For example, if you are required to demonstrate five years of continuous residence, you must also demonstrate physical presence in the United States for at least 30 months (at least 913 days) before filing the naturalization application.

Even if due to unforeseen reasons, such as COVID-19-related travel restrictions, an absence from the United States for a continuous period of one year or more (365 days or more) during the period for which continuous residence is required will automatically break the continuity of residence (See INA 316(b)). This applies whether the absence takes place before or after you file your naturalization application.

Unless you have an approved Form N 470, Application to Preserve Residence for Naturalization Purposes, USCIS must deny a naturalization application for failure to meet the continuous residence requirement if you have been continuously absent for a period of one year or more during the statutory period. Form N-470 preserves residence for LPRs engaged in qualifying employment abroad with the U.S. government, an American institution of research, an American firm or corporation, a public international organization of which the United States is a member, or a religious denomination or interdenominational mission organization.

For more information, please see USCIS Policy Manual Volume 12, Part D, General Naturalization Requirements Chapter 3, Continuous Residence, Chapter 4, Physical Presence and Chapter 5, Modifications and Exceptions to Continuous Residence and Physical Presence.

Naturalization Oath Ceremonies

USCIS field offices will send notices to applicants and petitioners to reschedule postponed naturalization ceremonies. The ceremonies may be shorter to limit exposure to those in attendance. USCIS will not play videos during naturalization ceremonies, but will give attendees a flyer with information and links directing them to the videos on the USCIS website. Under the shortened format, all legally required portions of the ceremony will take place. Attendance is limited to the candidates who are scheduled to be naturalized, a parent or trusted adult if the candidate is a minor and individuals providing disability assistance to a candidate.

As USCIS safely resumes in-person services, some naturalization ceremonies may be conducted differently than in the past. You may receive supplemental information from USCIS that provides detailed instructions for your ceremony. Please pay close attention to this information to ensure a safe and enjoyable ceremony experience.

Deadlines for Certain Requests, Notices, and Appeals

We will consider a response received within 60 calendar days after the due date set forth in the following requests or notices before taking any action, if we issued the request or notice anytime from March 1, 2020, through Jan. 15, 2022:

  • Request for Evidence;
  • Continuation to Request Evidence (N-14);
  • Notice of Intent to Deny;
  • Notice of Intent to Revoke;
  • Notice of Intent to Rescind;
  • Notice of Intent to Terminate regional centers; and
  • Motion to Reopen an N-400 Pursuant to 8 CFR 335.5, Receipt of Derogatory Information After Grant.

In addition, we will consider a Form I-290B, Notice of Appeal or Motion, or a Form N-336, Request for a Hearing on a Decision in Naturalization Proceedings (Under Section 336 of the INA), if:

  • The form was filed up to 60 calendar days from the issuance of a decision we made; and
  • We made that decision anytime from March 1, 2020, through Jan. 15, 2022.

See our alert for more information.

H-2A Requirements During COVID-19 Public Health Emergency

Update: June 16, 2021 is the final date that USCIS will accept H-2A petitions requesting flexibilities under the below temporary final rule. The changes made by this temporary final rule will automatically terminate on June 16. All H-2A petitions received after the termination of this temporary final rule will be subject to the permanent provisions of the H-2A program.

Update: On Dec. 18, DHS published a new temporary final rule extending the Aug. 20 temporary final rule. In the new rule, DHS extended the provision that temporarily allows all H-2A petitioners with a valid temporary labor certification (TLC) to start employing certain foreign workers who are currently in the United States and in valid H-2A status. DHS also extended the provision that allows H-2A workers to change employers and begin work before USCIS approves the new H-2A petition. DHS will apply this temporary final rule to H-2A petitions requesting an extension of stay, if they were received on or after Dec. 18, 2020, through June 16, 2021. Additional information is available under the H-2A Requirements During COVID-19 Public Health Emergency section on the USCIS Response to COVID-19 page

On Dec. 18, 2020, the Department of Homeland Security and USCIS published a new temporary final rule extending the Aug. 20 temporary final rule amending 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 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 the Dec. 18 temporary final rule, all H-2A petitioners with a valid temporary labor certification (TLC) can employ 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. In addition, the Dec. 18 temporary final rule extends the ability of eligible H-2A workers to change employers and begin work before USCIS approves the new H-2A petition. DHS will apply this temporary final rule to H-2A petitions requesting an extension of stay, if they were received on or after Dec, 18, 2020 through June 16, 2021.

The temporary final rule was effective on Dec. 18, 2020, through Dec. 18, 2023. 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 TLC. 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 temporary 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.

DNA Collection for Overseas Beneficiaries of Form I-130 Petitions

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the Department of State’s capacity to provide routine services to foreign nationals. Many U.S. Embassies and Consulates are unable to collect DNA on behalf of USCIS. If you are pursuing DNA collection in response to a Request for Evidence (RFE) issued by USCIS in the adjudication of your Form I-130, and your beneficiary lives overseas, your case may be impacted. For more information on the Department of State’s COVID-19 response and consular service prioritization schedule, see the Department of State Visa Services Operating Status webpage.

If you do not have other evidence to establish or verify a claimed relationship to an overseas I-130 beneficiary, you may submit DNA results to support your claim. Previously, USCIS had issued RFEs suggesting DNA collection with instructions on the process. If you had chosen to pursue DNA collection, you are responsible for initiating and funding the process through an AABB accredited laboratory. Before COVID-19 restrictions, the Department of State (through U.S. Embassies and Consulates) oversaw the DNA collection for beneficiaries residing overseas and submitted results to the AABB laboratory for analysis.

USCIS proceeds with adjudication of the I-130 when it receives the DNA report from the AABB laboratory. If you fail to respond to an RFE suggesting DNA collection by the due date, USCIS may adjudicate your Form I-130 without the DNA results, on a case-by-case basis.

When U.S. Embassies and Consulates return to normal operations, the Department of State will resume DNA collection procedures for beneficiaries residing overseas. Until the Department of State resumes normal operations for DNA collections:

  • USCIS will not include DNA suggestions or instructions in RFEs;
  • USCIS will continue to accept completed DNA results as evidence; and
  • USCIS may hold your Form I-130 as outlined in the Deadlines for Certain Requests, Notices, and Appeals guidance, if you communicate to USCIS an intent to continue to pursue DNA testing.

Please see Deadlines for Certain Requests, Notices, and Appeals for more information on current RFE deadlines and extensions under USCIS COVID-19 guidelines.

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

During, and in response to, the COVID-19 public health emergency, 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, 340.75 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). USCIS 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.

    Adoptions and COVID-19

    • USCIS recognizes that prospective adoptive parents (PAPs) may have concerns about potential delays in completing certain requirements to allow for adjudication of their adoption applications or petitions because of COVID-19 restrictions and closures.

    Suitability Determinations

    • At this time, there are no changes to eligibility requirements for adoption applications and petitions, which includes suitability determinations.

    • USCIS has an obligation to continue to review suitability applications submitted by PAPs and make determinations regarding whether PAPs remain suitable for intercountry adoption therefore, USCIS will not extend the validity period of suitability application approvals without conducting an updated suitability assessment.

    • As a reminder:

      • A suitability application approval is valid for 18 months for the orphan process (Form I-600A) and for 15 months for the Hague Adoption Convention process (Form I-800A). USCIS allows for a one-time free extension of the suitability application approval and for unlimited extensions of Form I-800A suitability approval (with fee).

      • Once a PAP files Form I-600 or Form I-800, they do not need to continue to extend their suitability approval or file new Form I-600As or Form I-800As. However, certain changes in the household must be reported to USCIS and may require an updated home study as noted below. For the orphan process, PAPs may choose not to file Form I-600A and, instead, submit all required evidence and request a suitability determination with their child’s Form I-600 (known as concurrent or combination filing).

      • Please see the Extension and Validity Periods webpage for more information, including suitability approval extensions or new requests in the event a PAP has not filed their Form I-600 or Form I-800 before their one-time extension will expire.

    • While we are unable to waive the requirement for an updated home study, certain home study requirements do have some flexibility:

      • Unless the family has moved or it is otherwise required, a home study update does not require the home study preparer to conduct another home visit or in-person interview. Instead, the home study preparer may conduct the update by Skype, FaceTime, phone, email, etc.

      • We understand that PAPs may be experiencing changes because of COVID-19. USCIS does not require PAPs to notify USCIS or their home study preparer of a change unless it’s a Significant Change. For more information, see our Guidance on Determining Suitability of Prospective Adoptive Parents for Intercountry Adoption (PDF, 302.16 KB).

      • If a significant change occurs in the PAP’s household, they must provide notification and submit an updated home study that reflects the significant change. The timeframe for this notification depends on the type of significant change and at what point in the process the significant change occurs.

      • For most significant changes, PAPs may generally wait until the next suitability determination point to provide notification, even if it’s been more than 30 days since the significant change occurred.

      • However, PAPs need to provide immediate notification to USCIS and their home study provider if the significant change is:

        • Related to arrest, conviction or a history of substance abuse, sexual abuse, child abuse, family violence, or any other criminal history as an offender; or

        • Any significant change that occurs after Form I-600 or Form I-800 petition approval, but before the child immigrates to the United States.

    Humanitarian Parole

    • Some parents ask about the use of parole for children to enter the country. USCIS rarely approves parole requests for adoption-related cases because parole does not provide the same procedural safeguards for prospective adoptive children, PAPs, and birth parents that exist in regular adoption-based immigration avenues, such as determinations that a child is an orphan or available for intercountry adoption.

    • Additionally, parole does not give children the U.S. immigration status protections that regular adoption-based immigration avenues provide. For example, a child who is paroled has not been admitted into the United States for purposes of immigration law and would have to take additional steps to become a lawful permanent resident (LPR) and a U.S. citizen. The child would not be admitted as an LPR and would not automatically acquire U.S. citizenship as many children entering based on adoption do.

    • For more information on parole, visit our webpage, Guidance on Evidence for Certain Types of Humanitarian or Significant Public Benefit Parole Requests.

    Contact Information

    • USCIS provides a dedicated public inquiry channel for PAPs with questions about a pending Hague or orphan application or petition. PAPs may contact the National Benefits Center (NBC) at nbc.adoptions@uscis.dhs.gov or call 877-424-8374Image removed. (domestic callers), TTY 800-877-8339Image removed., or 913-275-5480Image removed. (international callers). This call center for PAPs is staffed Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Central.

    • For any matters pending with the Department of State (DOS), including matters related to the issuance of visas, please see the latest information on the DOS Intercountry Adoption webpage.

    Statutory Provisions for Certain Nonimmigrants

    K-1 and K-2 Nonimmigrants

    The Immigration and Nationality Act requires a K-1 nonimmigrant to enter into a valid marriage with their U.S. citizen fiancé(e) within 90 days of being admitted to the United States in K-1 status. K-2 nonimmigrants are admitted as the minor children of their K-1 parents. K-1 nonimmigrant status automatically expires after 90 days and cannot be extended.

    However, as noted on our Visas for Fiancé(e)s of U.S. Citizens page, if the marriage between a K-1 nonimmigrant and their U.S. citizen fiancé(e) takes place after the 90 day period, the U.S. citizen spouse may file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, on behalf of the former fiancé(e), based on the marriage. The U.S. citizen spouse may also file Form I-130 for the K-2 stepchild as long as they meet the definition of stepchild under INA 101(b)(1)(B). See our Bringing Spouses to Live in the United States as Permanent Residents page for more information.

    Extending the Following-To-Join Timeline for K-2 Nonimmigrants

    A minor child of a K-1 nonimmigrant who wants to join their K-1 parent in the United States at a later time (called “following to join”) may be eligible for a K-2 visa for up to one year after the Department of State issues the K-1 principal’s visa. The K-2 child may follow to join even after the K-1 principal marries their U.S. citizen fiancé(e) and acquires lawful permanent resident (LPR) status.

    While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect worldwide consular services and travel, the Department of State may extend the one-year follow to join period for an additional 180 days if the child demonstrates that the reason they did not obtain a visa within one year of the K-1 principal receiving their visa or travel to the United States on a previously issued K-2 visa was a direct result of:

    • The worldwide suspension of visa services;
    • COVID-19 related travel restrictions; or
    • Other COVID-19 factors which were beyond their control.

    This relief does not affect rules related to fees or fee collection, or other eligibility factors for K-2 status or a K-2 nonimmigrant’s eligibility to adjust status.

    Special Situations

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

    COVID-19 Information in Other Languages

    Visit our Multilingual Resource page and select COVID-19 under the topics section to access COVID-19 information in several other languages.

    We translate our materials into other languages to help people with limited English skills. If there are differences between English and another language, the English version is the official version. To learn more, see our Accuracy and Translation Disclaimer.

    Lockbox Delays

    Receipt Notice Delays

    Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and other factors, we are experiencing delays in issuing receipt notices for some applications and petitions filed at a USCIS lockbox facility. The information below explains the current state of our lockbox operations and the issues affecting receipt notices.

    Current Situation

    As a result of COVID-19 restrictions, an increase in filings, current postal service volume and other external factors, you may experience a delay of two to four weeks in receiving your receipt notice after properly filing an application or petition with a USCIS lockbox. These delays will not affect the receipt date, which is determined according to 8 CFR 103.2(a)(7). Delays may vary among form types and lockbox locations. You may experience significant delays if you filed a non-family based Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, or if you are an F-1 student who filed Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, based on eligibility categories described in 8 CFR 274a.12(c)(3).

    The health and safety of our workforce remains a top priority. Across all USCIS offices, including lockbox facilities, we have taken necessary measures such as increased social distancing and frequent cleaning in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Some lockbox operations in locations that have been severely affected by COVID-19 must adhere to stricter local guidelines.

    What We Are Doing

    The USCIS lockbox workforce is working extra hours and redistributing its workload to minimize delays. Once we open and process your application, we print and mail the receipt notice.

    What You Can Do

    If you have already filed your application and are waiting for your receipt notice, we appreciate your patience. We are working as quickly as possible to complete the intake of all filings.

    If you have not already filed your application, you can:

    Finally, visit our Form Filing Tips page for more information on filing with USCIS and our online tools for help managing your application.

    What the U.S. Government is Doing

    Last Reviewed/Updated: