As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, USCIS has closed its offices for personal interviews for individuals applying for legal permanent residence (LPR) as result of marriage to United States citizens or employment-based petitions or for naturalizations. Application support centers (ASC) which capture biometrics, are also closed. In this article I will provide you with important information regarding certain changes made by USCIS during the COVID-19 pandemic. Please note that this information was current as of April 3rd, 2020. USCIS issues almost daily updates which can be found on their website at www.uscis.gov.
Those of you that have filed petitions or applications which have resulted in USCIS issuing Request For Evidence (RFE) or a Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID) or certain Notices of Intent to Revoke (NOIR) and Notice of Intent to Terminate (NOIT), will now have some more time to respond to RFEs, NOIDs, NOIRs and NOIT. USCIS has stated “any response to an RFE, NOID, NOIR or NOIT received within 60 calendar days after the response due date set in the request for notice will be considered by USCIS before any action is taken.” This means that you have up to 60 more days after the initial due date set in the RFE, NOID, NOIR or NOIT to respond and supply important, relevant information for your case. If you have received an RFE, NOID, NOIR, or NOIT, immediately consult with an attorney.
Those with non-immigrant status who are in the USA and cannot leave as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, can request an extension of stay by filing form I-539 online with the applicable fee before that individual’s form I-94, Arrival/Departure record, expiration date granted upon entry into the US. Although not guaranteed, it is believed that USCIS will favorably adjudicate extensions of status requests for those individuals who are stranded in the USA and cannot leave because of a lack of transportation due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Individuals in the following non-immigrant visa categories may be eligible to apply by filing form I-539 online; B1, temporary visitors for business; B2, temporary visitors for pleasure; F1, academic students with specific status expiration dates; F2, spouses or child or children of an academic student with a specific expiration date; M1, vocational students; M2, spouses or children of an M1 student. Please note that this list is not exhaustive. You should consult with a qualified immigration attorney if you are currently in non-immigrant status in the US and stranded and cannot return to your home country.
Please note the USCIS is still accepting applications which can either be mailed in or filed online. The following immigration applications/forms can be submitted online: I-130, petition for alien relative; i-539, application to extend/change non-immigrant status; 1-90, application to replace permanent resident card; N-336, request for a hearing on a decision in naturalization proceedings; N-400, application for naturalization; N-565, application of replacement of naturalization/citizen document; N-600, application for certificate of citizenship; N-600K, application for citizenship and issuance of certificate under section 322; G-28, notice of entry of appearance as attorney or accredited representative. Other applications or petitions must be mailed in and cannot be filed online. If you have any questions regarding these forms that can be submitted online or other forms that can be submitted via mail to USCIs, please contact a competent immigration attorney.
Please note that USCIS requires any applications or petitions being submitted to USCIS to contain original signatures on the petitions or applications. However, at this time, USCIS is permitting applications to be submitted with copies of the applicant’s signature, provided that the applicant/petitioner keeps the original in their possession and can provide it at a later date.
Please note that all Non-US citizens are required to inform the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) of a change in their address. You may do so by filing form AR-11, alien’s change of address card.
Please feel free to consult with me regarding any of your immigration questions in these especially challenging times. I may be contacted as follows: via telephone at (305) 648-3909 or via email at [email protected] for a confidential consultation.
About the Author
Oliver J. Langstadt is a Jamaican American attorney admitted to practice law in the state of Florida. He was raised in St. Mary Jamaica, near Highgate. He completed his high school education at the Priory School in Kingston, Jamaica. He attended the University of Miami School of Law and graduated with his law degree in 1985. He has been practicing law and immigration law for over twenty-five years. He is well-seasoned in all aspects of immigration law, including family petitions, immigrant visas, non-immigrant visas, business visas, investor visas, waivers from removal and unlawful presence, naturalization applications, and removal defense. He may be contacted at 305 648 3909 or via e-mail, at [email protected] He welcomes the chance to be of service regarding your US immigration cases and matters.