As the COVID-19 pandemic sweeps across the globe and the United States, the American government has announced sweeping changes made to the country’s immigration procedures. These have significantly altered daily operations, and have unfortunately disrupted the lives of tens of thousands of individuals not only in the United States but across the globe. Rest assured that the Rahbaran Law team will keep you up to date and will continue to work for you and your loved ones. You can always reach our team either by email or phone and we’ll address all your inquiries.
Examples of the dozens of changes that have been made in the last week include putting deportation flights on hold, pausing immigration hearings, and forbidding USCIS staff from interacting with members of the general public face-to-face. Perhaps most notable has been the response of the USCIS to the outbreak and the closure of their field offices throughout the country to mitigate the possible proliferation of the virus.
USCIS Temporarily Shuts Down Offices
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, commonly known as USCIS, has announced that as of last week they will be temporarily shutting down offices throughout the country as a response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
The announcement was formally made on March 18th and will remain in effect until at least April 1st. However, there has been no formal word on whether the offices would officially open on that date. Staff members of the USCIS will be expected to continue to perform their duties so long as they do not involve direct contact with the public.
This applies to USCIS field offices, application support centers, and asylum offices. A memo released by the USCIS announced hat “USCIS field offices would send notices to applicants and petitioners with scheduled appointments and naturalization ceremonies impacted by this closure.”
As a result, all face-to-face scheduled interviews have been temporarily postponed. Emergency services are also limited, and staff members can only perform work and tasks that do not involve direct or close contact with members of the general public.
The USCIS also has sent out cancellation notices to any applicant that was scheduled to take interviews at USCIS offices. However, the agency has also stated that they will be automatically rescheduling these interviews at a later but unspecified date.
Joseph Edlow, the Chief of USCIS, has ordered all staff members to suspend all face-to-face services with applicants and for those staff members to work from home on what he termed ‘mission-essential services.’ All naturalization oath ceremonies have been suspended as well, and any existing scheduled ones will be rescheduled for a later but unspecified date.
USCIS also has announced the immediate but temporary suspension of premium processing services for the I-140 and I-129 petitions until ‘further notice.’ Any new requests for premium processing will not be processed, even if the Form I-907 (Request for Premium Processing) had previously been accepted. Batch printed notices will be sent out to applicants, but not with pre-paid envelopes.
The I-907 petitions will be rejected, and he $1,440 filing fee will be dismissed as well and refunded. This applies to all petitions that were mailed before March 20th, but that had not yet been accepted, and for all categories of those petitions as well.
USCIS will also not be processing premium requests for the H-1B petitions as well. This includes any H-1B cap-subject petitions meant for the 2021 fiscal year and petitions from all previous fiscal years.
Lastly, all USCIS field offices have been either temporarily or permanently closed in other countries throughout the globe. The Justice Department has also closed ten immigration courts across the country until at least April 10th, and all hearings of immigrants who are not in detention have been postponed as well.
This bold move taken by the USCIS represents by far one of the most substantial steps taken yet by the immigration agency as a whole.
Rahbaran Law Stays Open To Help You
Please consider that Rahbaran Law stays open to all new and present clients during this trying time to help aid you and your loved ones in your immigration needs. Please take head of the precautionary measures instructed by the authorities, practice social distancing and stay safe.
Please do not hesitate to contact us in case you need immediate assistance or have any
questions related to your future or present immigration matters.