After a more than 11-week closure due to the pandemic, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) today reopened most of its offices to the public.
USCIS had temporarily suspended most of its in-person services at its field offices, asylum offices and Application Support Centers to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, which causes COVID-19 disease.
The suspension began on March 18, 2020 and was extended four times.
Interviews and Quotes
USCIS will send notices to applicants and petitioners for immigration benefits who had previously scheduled appointments and interviews.
Those who had InfoPass or other appointments must reschedule them through the USCIS Contact Center once the local offices are open to the public.
There will be some limitations on who can come to the offices. Only the applicant, his or her immigration attorney or representative, and a family member or person providing assistance to accommodate a disability may attend. The applicant must arrange for an interpreter to be available by telephone.
USCIS will send notices to naturalization applicants who had previously scheduled ceremonies.
Naturalization ceremonies could be shorter to limit the congregation of participants. Instead of playing videos at naturalization ceremonies, handouts will be given with information and links directing them to the videos in the USCIS website. However, all parts of the naturalization ceremony required by law will be performed.
Attendance at naturalization ceremonies will be limited to the naturalization candidate and accompanying persons assisting those with a disability.
Application Assistance Centers
USCIS Application Assistance Centers will not yet resume services. This is of concern, as the centers perform important functions, including the collection of biometric data necessary for the processing of immigration applications.
Appointments at Application Assistance Centers will be rescheduled due to office closures. Applicants will receive notification of the new appointment date by mail.
USCIS asylum offices will send notices about the cancellation of interviews, which will be automatically rescheduled. The affirmative asylum seekers will receive a new interview notification with the new interview time, date and location.
According to USCIS, asylum offices expect to conduct asylum interviews by videowhere applicants sit in one room and the interviewing officer sits in another room. Asylum offices will use available technology, including mobile devices, to ensure that the officer, applicant, interpreter and attorney can conduct the interview effectively and comply with the physical distance recommendation.
Asylum applicants must bring all family members listed as dependents on the application and an interpreter, if the applicant does not speak English. In addition, a representative, witness, person providing assistance to someone who has a disability, or a trusted adult if the applicant is a minor, may attend the asylum interview.
In the case of non-detained individuals who have credible fear and reasonable fear interviews at USCIS asylum offices, they may bring any family members who are listed on the interview notice. Immigration attorneys or applicant representatives may attend the credible fear and reasonable fear interviews in person or by telephone. USCIS will provide contracted professional interpreters for credible fear and reasonable fear interviews.
Precautions to Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 in USCIS Offices
USCIS has implemented the following precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in offices that have reopened:
* Visitors will have to answer health verification questions before entering the offices.
* Visitors will not be allowed to enter a USCIS office if:
- They have symptoms of COVID-19, including cough, fever, or shortness of breath.
- Have had close contact within the past 14 days with a person known or suspected to have COVID-19
- A health care provider or public health authority has ordered you to be asylum or quarantined within the past 14 days.
* Visitors may not enter the USCIS office more than 15 minutes prior to their appointment (30 minutes for naturalization ceremonies).
* Antiseptic gel will be provided to visitors at entry points.
* Visitors must have facial coverings over their mouth and nose when entering the facility. If they do not have one, USCIS may not be able to assist you and may require you to return another day for your visit.
*Visitors should pay attention to markings, physical barriers and signs at USCIS offices to ensure that they follow physical/social distancing measures.
*Visitors must bring their own black or blue ink pens.
* USCIS will advise of additional updates as the situation changes and will follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. To track changes and get updates, please visit the uscis.gov/en/coronavirus.
Additional Important Information
* Before visiting the local USCIS offices, you should review the USCIS web page entitled "Status of Our Offices" (USCIS Office Closings) to determine whether the office you wish to visit is open or closed.
For example, on the morning of June 4, 2020, the USCIS website showed that all field offices were open, but by the afternoon 24 of them were again closed to the public.
* USCIS will continue to offer limited emergency services at most of its offices. Persons with emergencies should contact the USCIS Contact Center.