COVID19 Immigration Updates

COVID19 Immigration Updates

This article is updated as new information regarding the impact of COVID-19 on immigration is released.

October 1, 2020

On Sept. 29, 2020, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, in Immigration Legal Resource Center et al., v. Wolf, et al., 20-cv-05883-JWS, preliminarily enjoined DHS from implementing or enforcing any part of the USCIS Fee Schedule and Changes to Certain Other Immigration Benefit Request Requirements rule.

While the rule is preliminarily enjoined, USCIS will continue to:

  • Accept USCIS forms with the current editions and current fees; and

  • Use the regulations and guidance currently in place to adjudicate applications and petitions. This includes accepting and adjudicating fee waiver requests as provided under Adjudicator’s Field Manual (AFM) Chapters 10.9 and 10.10.

September 29, 2020

A California Judge Has Blocked the USCIS Fee Increases

The immigration rule would have increased fees on businesses, new citizens, international students needing work authorization, and others. The fees were scheduled to go into effect on October 2, 2020. On September 29, 2020, U.S. District Judge Jeffrey S. White, in the Northern District of California, enjoined the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), USCIS, and officials serving in those agencies “from implementing or enforcing the Final Rule or any portion thereof.” The preliminary injunction is in effect nationwide. Case: Immigrant Legal Resource Center, et al. v. Chad F. Wolf, et al. involved 8 non-profit organizations that provide services to immigrants.

August 2, 2020

A court issued an injunction against USCIS use of Form I-944, Declaration of Self-Sufficiency due to COVID-19 and its impact on the global economy. USCIS will not require submission of Form I-944 until further notice.

July 14, 2020

The policy which was put in place to required F-1 students taking classes online due to COVID to leave the United States was rescinded.

July 6, 2020

Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) announces that students taking online courses in the fall will not be allow to remain in the US during that time. This policy was later rescinded on July 14, 2020.

June 4, 2020

Certain USCIS field offices begin reopening. Appointments which were previously scheduled and cancelled will begin to be rescheduled.

May 1, 2020

USCIS issues an announcement that all responses to Requests for Evidence (RFE) and Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID) dated between March 1 and September 11, 2020 will be given an extension of 60 days from the date previously set to be due.

April 24, 2020

USCIS has announced that all routine in-person services have been suspended until at least June 4th, 2020, but has continued to fulfill roles that do require public interaction.

USCIS will provide emergency services for limited situations. To schedule an emergency appointment contact the USCIS Contact Center.

April 23, 2020

The executive order will not apply to:

  • Temporary visas (student visas, H1-B visas, etc.)
  • Green card applicants filing from within the United States (“adjustment of status“)
  • Spouses or minor children of U.S. citizens
  • Special Immigrant Visas or EB-5 (“immigrant investor”)

It will affect:

  • Spouses of legal permanent residents (green card holders) filing from abroad (consular processing). Spouses and minor children of U.S. citizens filing abroad are exempt.
  • Siblings, parents, and adult children of U.S. citizens filing from abroad.

April 3, 2020

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) released updates on their response to COVID-19. They stated that, “Detainee access to legal representatives remains a paramount requirement and should be accommodated to the maximum extent practicable. Legal visitation must continue unless determined to pose a risk to the safety and security of the facility”. In addition, where possible non-contact legal visitation should be offered. If it is determined that in-person visitation be necessary it will be permitted.

April 1, 2020

USCIS has announced that all routine in-person services have been temporarily suspended until at least May 3rd, 2020, but has continued to fulfill roles that do require public interaction. USCIS will provide emergency services for limited situations. To schedule an emergency appointment contact the USCIS Contact Center.

What this means for pending applications: No biometric appointments or interviews are currently being held. In cases where a biometrics is required and still incomplete that means that applications for work and travel authorization are not being processed at this time. Currently cases that require an interview will also remain pending until an interview can be scheduled.

March 30, 2020

USCIS announced that extension requests will reuse previously submitted biometrics in order to continue processing Employment Authorization Document (EAD) renewals.

March 27, 2020

USCIS issues an announcement that all responses to Requests for Evidence (RFE) and Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID) dated between March 1 and May 1, 2020 will be given an extension of 60 days from the date previously set to be due.

March 21, 2020

Policies between the United States and both Canada and Mexico go into place. These policies restrict non-essential travel across both borders. Travel will be permitted for matters such as work, school, and healthcare.

March 20, 2020

USCIS announces that they will accept all forms and documents with reproduced signatures dated March 21, 2020 and beyond.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services today announced that, due to the ongoing COVID-19 National Emergency announced by President Trump on March 13, 2020, we will accept all benefit forms and documents with reproduced original signatures, including the Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, for submissions dated March 21, 2020, and beyond. Keep copies of all original documents with signatures in case called upon to present them to USCIS as a later date.

March 17, 2020

USCIS has announced that all routine in-person services have been temporarily suspended until at least April 1, 2020, but has continued to fulfill roles that do require public interaction. USCIS will provide emergency services for limited situations. To schedule an emergency appointment contact the USCIS Contact Center.

What this means for pending applications: No biometric appointments or interviews are currently being held. In cases where a biometrics is required and still incomplete that means that applications for work and travel authorization are not being processed at this time. Currently cases that require an interview will also remain pending until an interview can be scheduled.

March 13, 2020

USCIS announced that seeking treatment for COVID-19 will not negatively impact immigrants under public charge.

Travel restrictions to the US are put into place from two dozen European countries. This restriction does not apply to US citizens and  permanent residents, their spouses, their unmarried siblings under 21, and their children.

* March 14th Ireland and England are added to list of restricted travel.