In a previous article, I shared with you that USCIS offices will resume public services and reopen to the public on June 4, 2020. This article will provide further important information regarding the reopening of USCIS offices and procedures to be followed upon entering UCSIS offices.
As USCIS begins to restore services to the public, USCIS offices will reduce the number of appointments and interviews to take into account social distancing and also to allow for cleaning and a reduction in the number of people that will be in USCIS waiting rooms. Future appointment notices will contain information on safety precautions that all visitors to USCIS offices must adhere to. Please review the future appointment notices that you may receive very carefully because they will contain important information.
USCIS will provide new notices to applicants and petitioners with previously scheduled appointments and interviews that did not occur because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Those individuals attending appointments should follow the safety guidelines which I shall discuss below. Please note, individuals who had other appointments (excluding scheduled appointments and interviews), must reschedule through the USCIS contact center once the field offices are open to the public which is June 4, 2020. Please note that visitors to USCIS offices are limited to the applicant, one representative, one family member and one individual providing disability accommodations. Any applicant who requires the services of an interpreter, should make the arrangements for the interpreter to be available by telephone.
Regarding naturalization oath ceremonies, USCIS will send notices to applicants to reschedule postponed naturalization oath ceremonies. The ceremonies will be shorter to limit exposure to those in attendance. Videos will no longer be played during naturalization ceremonies, Rather, participants will receive an instructional pamphlet with information and links directing them to the videos on the USCIS website. Pursuant to the shortened format, all legally required portions of the ceremony will occur.
USCIS Asylum offices will automatically reschedule asylum interviews that were cancelled during the closure of USCIS offices. Please note, that when USCIS does reschedule the interview, the asylum applicants shall receive a new notice with the new date, time and location for the interview and information about safety precautions. As a result of social distancing and due to the length of asylum interviews, asylum offices anticipate conducting video facilitated asylum interviews where the applicants sit in one room and the officer sits in another room. USCIS asylum offices will use available technology, including mobile devices provided by USCIS to ensure the office, applicant, interpreter, and representative can fully and safely participate in any interview while maintaining social distancing.
Regarding Application Support Centers (ASCs), USCIS will automatically reschedule any necessary ASC appointments that were cancelled due to USCIS office closures. Individuals shall receive a new appointment letter in the mail which will include specific safety requirements. Those who appear later, than the scheduled time on the ASC appointment notice, may encounter significant processing delays, except for military members.
Specific guidelines for entering USCIS facilities are the following: visitors may not enter a USCIS facility if they (1) have any symptoms of Covid-19, including cough, fever or difficulty breathing; (2) have been in close contact with anyone known or suspected to have Covid-19 in the last 14 days; or (3) 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 USCIS facility more than 15 minutes prior to their appointment (please note, this timeframe is 30 minutes for naturalization oath 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 USCIS facilities. Visitors may be directed to briefly remove their face covering to confirm their identity or take their photograph. There will be markings and physical barriers in USCIS facilities. Visitors should pay close attention to the markings and physical barriers to ensure they follow social distancing guidelines strictly. Individuals are encouraged to bring their own black or blue pens.
Make sure that before you attend an interview you are properly prepared. Organize all your documents so that you can find them easily and quickly, for presentation to the interviewing officer. If you intend to submit documents at the interview, make copies in advance, do not expect the interviewing officer to make copies. If you were not able to do the required medical exam prior to the restriction of movement due to the Covid-19 pandemic be sure to read the rescheduled interview notice as it may contain important information regarding medical exams.-
Finally, for even more information regarding USCIS facilities, feel free to visit the USCIS website at uscis.gov/visitorpolicy.
If you have questions, concerns or are not clear about the new USCIS policies as to public entry to USCIS facilities beginning June 4, 2020, or you have an immigration question, or you need legal representation in an immigration matter please feel free to contact me by calling me at (305) 648 3909 or sending me an email at [email protected].
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.