On 18 March, the Service of citizenship and US immigration services (USCIS) has temporarily suspended the provision of all services for immigrants, requiring personal attendance, in order to prevent the spread of coronavirus, reminiscent of the Miami Herald.
The closure of offices affects tens of thousands of people awaiting immigration services such as renewal of the status or work permits, obtaining green cards and U.S. citizenship through naturalization, including those who have scheduled interviews, the removal of biometric data and the naturalization ceremony.
Paralysis of the immigration procedures caused anxiety in people with open processes of asylum — seekers, permanent residents with green cards in anticipation of the us citizenship and others of pending cases in immigration courts.
Concerned and thousands of foreigners with tourist visas, whose authorized stay in the U.S. expires and they are unable to return to their country due to the pandemic, therefore, must apply for renewal of their status of reemigrants.
At the same time, many foreign students are suddenly in a situation of financial need and want to get a work permit.
Lawyer immigration services adriana Kostecki, partner Nelles Kostencki, PLLC, has responded to some of the most common questions related to immigration services during a pandemic coronavirus.
Many people waiting for immigration documents, experience severe stress due to the closure of the offices of the USCIS. What is happening now?
Immigration officers and USCIS continue to perform the duties that are not related to contacts with the public. Cases are still pending, and those cases that require interviews will obviously be delayed because USCIS has temporarily closed the offices.
However, USCIS continues to work, and we got notification of approval decisions relating to those cases where people either had an interview or it is not needed, or they need the meeting to take fingerprints and so on. Thus, employees continue working, albeit in a smaller group.
Many people with a tourist visa whose permission to stay in the U.S. expire cannot return to their countries because of the pandemic, and prohibitions on travel. What can they do?
When applying for an extension or change of status in a particular situation that prevented your timely departure, the authorities will consider how this situation affected the departure. It is extremely important to apply for extension or change of status before the expiration of current status. If you are going to apply for extension of status before the expiration of the allowed period of stay indicated on your I-94, USCIS may justify the delay, if it occurred due to external circumstances beyond your control.
You need to file USCIS form I-539 with all supporting evidence showing why you are unable to leave the United States in a timely period.
Many people waiting for interviews for asylum, or they have problems with cases of asylum. What should they do?
At this point it is best to stay at home. Officers of asylum, USCIS will send a notice of cancellation of the interview and will automatically transfer it. You get a new notification with a new interview time, date and venue. If you have not received a response within the next 90 days, I recommend you to contact your office at the shelter by email, regular mail or telephone. You can also view the status of your case on the web site www.uscis.gov/casestatus.