U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services temporarily suspended routine in-person services on March 18, 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, USCIS is preparing to reopen some domestic offices and continue non-emergency public services starting on June 4. Continue reading below to learn more about what to expect moving forward.
Any interviews that were cancelled throughout the temporary closures will automatically be rescheduled by USCIS. The applicants will receive their new time, date, location of the interview, important safety precautions in a notice. In accordance with social distancing guidelines, video asylum interviews will be conducted in which applicants and interviewing officers sit in different rooms than one another.
For an affirmative asylum interview, applicants must bring immediate family members who are listed as dependents on their application as well as an interpreter if they do not speak English. One representative, one witness, one individual providing disability accommodations or “trusted adult” for a minor applicant can also attend the interview.
For non-detained credible or reasonable fear interviews, applicants must bring family members who are listed on the interview notice. A representative may attend these interviews but are encouraged to do so by phone. USCUS will provide contracted, professional interpreters for credible and reasonable fear interviews.
Individuals whose naturalization ceremonies were postponed will receive rescheduling notice from USCIS. These ceremonies may be shorter in an effort to limit exposure. However, all legal parts will take place and attendees can receive a flyer with further information and the USCIS website. Attendance will also be limited to the candidate and individuals providing assistance to disabled persons.
Interviews and Appointments
Notice will be sent to applicants and petitioners who had previously scheduled appointments and interviews. Those with other appointments must reschedule through the USCIS Contact Center. Visitors for these appointments are limited to the applicant, a representative, a family member, and a person providing disability accommodations. Interpreters can engage through telephone if necessary.
Application Support Centers
Any cancelled ASC appointments will also be rescheduled by USCIS and notice will be sent in the mail with safety requirements. Individuals who appear at a non-designated date and time may experience processing delays, with the exception of military members.
Safety Guidelines for Entering USCIS Facilities
The following are the safety measures that all people 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.
It is critical that you do not attend your appointment if you feel sick. 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
Katona & Associates, PLLC is an experienced, highly dedicated New York City immigration law firm located in lower Manhattan. Our firm works with clients in all matters of immigration law, including employment immigration, family immigration, deportation defense, green cards, and citizenship. Contact us to discuss your case and get the help you need.