By Radhika Balaji, Associate Attorney
After Shelter-in Place Orders began being lifted across the country, USCIS began reopening its offices in the beginning of June. Since then, reopening of the USCIS MPLG has received several questions related to interview and biometrics appointments as well as case processing. We answer some of them below.
Q1. When did the USCIS field offices open their offices to the public?
A1. Since June 4, 2020, the USCIS began reopening field offices after they were closed due to the Shelter-in-Place (SIP) Order that was issued on March 13, 2020.
Q2. Is the USCIS open for all types of Services now? If not, what types of services are they offering now?
A2. USCIS field offices have limited the scope of services in consideration of COVID-19 safety protocols. Field offices are currently open and conducting naturalization interviews, Adjustment of Status interviews, and for biometrics appointments.
Q3. My Naturalization interview was scheduled in March 2020, and after the SIP Order was issued, it was cancelled. Will I be rescheduled? Or should I contact the USCIS?
A3. All interview appointments and biometrics appointments that were cancelled beginning in March 2020 will be automatically rescheduled. USCIS will be mailing out the appointment notices as soon as they are able to re-schedule it.
Q4. How long will it take for my biometrics to be rescheduled?
A4. At the moment, the USCIS is taking steps to reschedule the cancelled appointments from March and forward. However, an official announcement has not been made on processing time, so it is not clear what the expected timelines are for these appointments to be scheduled.
Q5. How long will it take for my naturalization interview to be scheduled?
A5. The USCIS is currently focusing on scheduling all cancelled naturalization appointments.
However, an official announcement has not been made on processing time, so it is not clear what the expected timelines are for these appointments to be rescheduled.
Q6. Are naturalization interviews prioritized over adjustment of status interviews?
A6. Yes. USCIS has confirmed that they are prioritizing naturalization interviews at this time.
Q7. Are Oath ceremonies being held in the USCIS offices?
A7. Yes, Oath Ceremonies are being conducted at local USCIS field offices. Since June 8th, Oath Ceremonies having been taking place every other Friday, at the San Jose Field Office. If you miss an Oath Ceremony on a particular Friday, you can attend the next one on the following Friday. If you have the naturalization interview on a Friday, then you can attend the Oath ceremony on the same day.
Q8. Can I have my attorney attend my AOS or naturalization interview?
A8. Yes, you can have your attorney attend the interview with you in person or by phone.
Q9. How many naturalization interviews and AOS interviews are held on a single day?
A9. Prior to the pandemic closures, about 200 Naturalization interviews were held on a single day. Now they have been tapered down to 30 or 40 per day. Since the Naturalization cases are prioritized, the number of AOS cases are still much lesser in number.
Q10. Is it safe for me to attend the interview?
A.10. USCIS field offices have detailed safety protocols in place in consideration of the COVID-19 pandemic. You can find additional information here.
Q.11. Is USCIS still receiving all types of filings?
A.11. Yes, USCIS continues to receive and process all types of applications and petitions.
Q12. I heard that there is a proposed increase in the application fees. Is this true?
A 12. USCIS just announced it will be publishing its final rule on August 3, 2020, increasing the filing fees for certain applications and petitions. These new fees are slated to take effect within 60 days of the publication date, which will be on October 2, 2020. A copy of the final rule can be found here.
Q13. Will Oath Ceremonies be conducted on remote sessions?
A13. No. Oath Ceremonies must be held in-person only.
Q14. Are interviews conducted through video sessions?
A 14. Some offices around the country are beginning to use video interviews, including some Asylum offices.
Q15. Are EAD cards and green cards being printed regularly?
A15. There have been delays in the issuance of the EAD and green cards, but they are being printed.
Q16. Are the US Consulates open and fully functioning?
A16. At this time, routine visa services at all US Consulates abroad have been suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Embassies and consulates will continue to provide emergency and mission critical visa services and will resume routine visa services as local conditions and resources allow. Individuals interested in the operations of a particular post should contact that embassy or consulate directly. Contact information for embassies and consulates worldwide is available at usembassy.gov.
Q17. When will the US Consulates open for normal operation?
A17. The Department of State has not provided information on when the US Consulates abroad will resume normal operations. (https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/ea/routine-visa-services-suspended-worldwide.html). We will provide additional information as it comes in.
Disclaimer: This is a general advisory and not the basis for specific legal advice. The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.
Consultation: Please contact MPLG today to schedule a consultation for your individual concerns.
Radhika Balaji is an Associate Attorney with MPLG’s immigration practice. She manages the firm’s PERM practice and focuses on immigrant petitions, adjustment of status applications, as well as employment-based non-immigrant visa petitions. She also specializes on a variety of family-based immigration matters, including green card applications through marriage, removal of conditions on residence and naturalization.