U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will resume in-person services at some of its local offices and Application Support Centers (ASCs) starting June 4, according to an agency announcement issued today.
The agency has yet to identify which offices and ASCs will resume in-person services next week but stated that this information will be available on its USCIS office closure page, which will be updated regularly. It is expected that local conditions and proclamations related to COVID-19 will control when offices and ASCs will resume in-person services.
Since March 18, in response to COVID-19, USCIS closed its local field offices and Application Support Centers (ASCs) to the public, suspending in-person services. The suspension was extended several times, most recently through June 3.
During this temporary suspension, USCIS did not conduct in-person biometrics appointments at ASCs or green card or naturalization interviews or naturalization ceremonies at local field offices. The agency did, however, provide limited emergency services in certain circumstances.
USCIS Service Centers, where most immigration benefit applications and petitions are adjudicated, were not affected by this suspension.
Only some USCIS local offices and ASCs will resume in-person services on June 4, and others will follow after that date. USCIS local office information can change quickly, so applicants should check the USCIS office closure page to track re-openings and temporarily changed office hours for their particular USCIS location.
Foreign nationals who received cancellation notices for their green card and naturalization interviews, naturalization ceremonies and biometrics service appointments will receive rescheduling notices as their local offices resume in-person services. In some cases, biometrics rescheduling should not be necessary given USCIS’s announcement that it would process Form I-765 Employment Authorization Document renewal applications using biometrics previously collected from applicants.
Individuals who had scheduled Infopass appointments during the temporary suspension must reach out to USCIS through its Contact Center in order to reschedule the appointment.
Safety Protocols for In-Person Services
As in-person services resume, USCIS has stated that it will reduce the number of appointments and interviews scheduled on a daily basis in order to promote social distancing and to allow for sufficient cleaning of common areas.
Further, appointment rescheduling notices will contain specific information on safety precautions that must be followed by applicants when visiting USCIS local offices, such as a requirement to wear masks. Certain aspects of appointments and ceremonies will also be changed in order to limit the length and amount of people associated with one appointment. For example, naturalization ceremonies may be shorter in duration and applicants may be asked to have their interpreter available by phone.
USCIS also asks that applicants who are feeling sick reschedule their appointment instead of attending. The agency notes that there will be no penalty for rescheduling appointments due to illness.
What this Means for Employers and Foreign Nationals
Foreign nationals in jurisdictions where in-person services are resuming can expect to receive appointment rescheduling notices from USCIS in the coming weeks. When appearing for their interviews or appointments, applicants will be required to comply with new USCIS safety guidelines, including wearing a mask and maintaining physical distance from others while in the facility.
For applicants whose local USCIS offices remain closed beyond June 4, the continued suspension means that the final adjudication of applications requiring interviews and/or biometrics – including applications for adjustment of status, initial Form I-765 applications requiring biometrics, and nonimmigrant extensions and changes of status on Form I-539 – may be delayed until in-person services resume. Delays in Form I-539 processing could also delay employment authorization applications for H-4, L-2, and E nonimmigrant spouses.