It feels like every day there is something new about COVID-19 and its impact on the lives of Americans. For many, the rapid-fire news cycle has left them dazed and confused about how the government’s response to the virus impacts them.
This confusion is doubled especially for those who are aspiring Americans, green card holders, foreign workers on their H1-B, or international students who find themselves uncertain about their status in the country.
Here are our top takeaways that you need to know about COVID-19 and its impact on immigrants and the immigration system.
Table of contents:
- USCIS Office Appointments May Be Rescheduled
- USCIS Is Still Accepting Immigration Applications
- Naturalization Oath Ceremonies are Postponed
- Renewal of Employment Authorization Documents Will Be Processed Without Biometrics Appointments
- Your Due Dates May Be Extended
- You May Be Able To Work As A Student – Provided You Apply
USCIS Office Appointments May Be Rescheduled
USCIS has suspended routine in-person services for the public by closing its field offices, Application Support Centers, and Asylum offices. The offices are closed till June 4 and it could extend if the Coronavirus situation is not under control.
This means that most appointments will be automatically rescheduled and notices will be sent by the USCIS. However in certain cases notices might not be sent, appointments will not be automatically scheduled and notices might not be sent as well. Instructions for all types of appointments can be found on the official website.
USCIS Is Still Accepting Immigration Applications
Even though the offices are closed for the public USCIS staff are still performing duties that don’t involve contact with the public. So Green Card renewals, citizenship applications, I-130 petitions, I-485 applications, I-765 applications, and more immigration applications are still accepted.
If there are any immigration application related obligations coming up then you need to take care of it. The best way to prepare your immigration application is to use our online software service to prepare your immigration application and then send it to the USCIS.
Certain post application processes have changed. Keep reading to understand more about it.
Naturalization Oath Ceremonies Are Postponed
Due to COVID-19, getting your US citizenship may take you a little longer. USCIS has canceled all naturalization oath ceremonies through to at least June 4th. As a result, you can’t take your Oath of Allegiance, which is the final part of becoming a US citizen.
USCIS will reschedule your ceremony and send you the notice for your rescheduled ceremony by mail. Even though the Naturalization ceremonies are postponed USCIS still accepts naturalization applications from applicants.
If you were planning to become a U.S. citizen but put a hold on the application process due to the Coronavirus you should reconsider completing the application process now.
Because USCIS proposed a fee increase for major application forms and Form N-400 was proposed to increase from the current cost of $640 to $1,170. That is a steep price increase. The proposal had an initial comment period which was then extended till February 10. We are way past the comment period and it is highly likely that the fee increases could go live anytime soon.
With the Coronavirus affecting the economy, this move to increase the fees could be considered as the right choice and it could go live soon. So don’t wait.
Since you are most likely under lockdown completing the application process can seem daunting but it doesn’t have to be. Use our online software to prepare you Form N-400 from the comfort of your home.
Renewal of Employment Authorization Documents Will Be Processed Without Biometrics Appointments
If you had applied for renewal of employment authorization and had an appointment scheduled with an ASC after March 18 or you filed Form I-765 for renewal of employment authorization document (EAD) after the office closure then USCIS will process your application using previously submitted biometrics.
So if you are looking to renew your employment authorization document then you may do so without any issues. And since you might be in a lockdown getting the application done could be a hassle. So try using our online software service to prepare your Form I-765 application.
We make it easy for you to prepare your application.
Your Due Dates May Be Extended
If you have received any requests for evidence (RFE), notices of intent to deny (NOID), notice of intent to revoke (NOIR), and notices of intent to terminate (NOIT), you will now have 60 extra days to submit a response. These 60 extra days start from the response date stated in the RFE, NOID, NOIR, or NOIT. Any actions that are a result of these requests will likewise only occur after these 60 days have passed.
This 60 days grace period only applies for RFE, NOID, NOIR and NOITs issued between March 1 and May 1, 2020. If your request is dated outside of this date range, the due date stated in the letter will continue to apply.
You May Be Able to Work As A Student – Provided You Apply
If you are a student that has been impacted financially by COVID-19, such that you face severe economic hardship, USCIS has stated that it may allow you to work. However, you may submit Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, and Form I-20, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status. Your application must also be approved before you are able to work – but if it is you will be able to work off-campus, in 1-year increments, up to the point of your graduation.
More COVID-19 impacts for aspiring US immigrants are most likely around the corner. We’ll make sure to keep you up to date on the top things you need to know!