Immigration appointments canceled amidst COVID-19 concerns

| Mar 22, 2020 | US Immigration Law

Immigration agencies in the United States and abroad are closing their offices to the public and suspending all appointments in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) closed all of its offices as of Mar. 18 and the agency says they will remain closed until at least April 1.

Impacts for USCIS field offices

While the USCIS says that emergency services are available for limited situations, they provided no guidance on what constitutes an emergency. Those who are affected should contact officials. The agency says no penalties will result from missed appointments during this time. They issued specific instructions for:

In-person interviews: All interviews scheduled at USCIS offices will automatically be rescheduled, including:

  • Adjustment of status to permanent residence (green cards)
  • Interviews and exams for naturalization (citizenship)
  • Interviews for asylum

Biometric appointments: The same actions have been implemented for all meetings scheduled at Application Support Centers for applications requiring biometrics, which include:

  • Adjustment of status
  • Reentry permits
  • Some work permits

H-1B registration: The USCIS also suspended processing on cap H-1B petitions. The deadline was set for noon on Mar. 20 and the agency was expected to select cap cases the next week so petitions could be filed within 90 days. The USCIS is expected to restart phased-in premium processing by May 27 and all cases by June 29.

State Department announces closures worldwide

U.S. Department of State embassies and consular offices will only remain open to provide emergency services for American citizens abroad, mostly for visa situations. The decision cancels suspends and limits appointments for immigrant and nonimmigrant visas in nearly 130 countries.