In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) suspended in-person services at its field offices, asylum office and application support centers on March 18, 2020. USCIS has continued its internal operations during this closure but have reopened certain offices to the public on June 4, 2020. However, USCIS announced new guidelines for in-person services moving forward in efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19.
All visitors may not enter any USCIS facility if they have any symptoms of COVID-19 including cough, fever or difficulty breathing. USCIS also orders that anyone in close contact with anyone known or suspected to have COVID-19 in the last 14 days may not enter the facility. Visitors may NOT enter the facilities more than 15 minutes prior to the appointment. For naturalization ceremonies, Applicants may enter 30 minutes prior to the appointment. Facial coverings must always be worn while inside a USCIS facility. Failure to comply, will result in the rescheduling of the appointment. USCIS will also have physical barriers and markings for social distancing and health screening questions may be asked upon entry to a facility.
UCSIS will automatically send notices to Applicants with previously scheduled appointments. Unlike the past, visitors allowed inside USCIS are limited to the applicant, one attorney or authorized representative, and one individual providing disability assistance if necessary. No other visitors such as family members will be allowed to enter USCIS. Telephonic appearance and representation are also available for attorneys. Applicants may request that the adjudicating officer contact the attorney on the G-28 representation form on file. Interpreters should also appear via telephone. In some instances, USCIS will contact its own language line for interpretation services if deemed necessary.
Special Rules for Asylum Interviews
Due to the length of asylum interviews, asylum offices will conduct video asylum interviews. Applicants and their representative will be situated in one room while the interviewing officer will conduct the interview in a separate room using video and mobile technology. Please note that principal applicants and derivative applications must still appear at the interview along with their interpreter if necessary.
Immigration Court Reopening Schedule is Different From USCIS
Please note that the Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR) -also known as Immigration Court- has not reopened uniformly like USCIS. Immigration Court is part of the Department of Justice and has different reopening schedules for each and every court. The latest update is that most EOIR will resume non-detained hearings on July 2, 2020. EOIR has been automatically sending out notices rescheduling hearings on or after July 2, 2020. Some exceptions will apply such as the Los Angeles Immigration Court announcing that it will resume non-detained hearings. Please note that all filings are still being accepted at Immigration Court. Similar to USCIS, EOIR will require facial covering for all visitors and will apply social distancing rules in Court.
Many clients have been contacting us requesting information about estimates and timelines of rescheduled appointments. Due to the social distancing guidelines, it seems that USCIS appointments will drastically decrease at this time. EOIR hearing have also been postponed and updated as the reopening date has constantly been updated. As a result, it is difficult to accurately predict when an interview will be scheduled. As we get more interviews scheduled, we will be able to better assess the trend and processing times. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us.
Wilner & O’Reilly, APLC is a law firm that specializes exclusively in immigration law. We have offices in Orange, Fresno, Riverside, San Diego, Sacramento, San Bruno, California, as well as Salt Lake City and Orem, Utah, and Boise, Idaho. We understand that people are anxious and nervous about the uncertainties of their case. If you have questions or concerns, give us a call, and schedule a free consultation today.
CHIEN-YU (MICHAEL) WANG – Managing Attorney – Sacramento
Chien-Yu (Michael) Wang is the Managing Attorney at Wilner & O’Reilly’s Sacramento office. He handles both family and business-based immigration matters along with removal defense. Mr. Wang is admitted to the State Bar of California and the U.S. District Court for the Central and Eastern Districts of California. He is a member of the Los Angeles County Bar Association, the Southern California Chinese Lawyers Association, the Sacramento County Bar Association and the Asian-Pacific Bar Association of Sacramento. Mr. Wang graduated from the University of California, Davis with a Bachelor’s Degree in Japanese and East Asian Studies, and also studied at the Waseda University in Tokyo, Japan. He earned his Juris Doctorate
RICHARD M. WILNER – FOUNDING PARTNER
Richard M. Wilner is a founding member of Wilner & O’Reilly, APLC and is Board Certified by the State Bar of California as a Specialist in Immigration and Nationality Law. He is admitted to practice law in the State of California and before the U.S. District Courts for the Central, Northern and Southern Districts of California, the Northern District of Texas, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and the U.S. Supreme Court.Mr. Wilner has received the coveted Martindale-Hubbell AV Rating, the highest legal and ethical rating that one can receive from one’s peers in the legal community. Similarly, he has been awarded the title of Super Lawyer from 2007 to the present. He is best known for his work in advising Fortune 500 companies, middle and small market businesses, entrepreneurs and foreign nationals of extraordinary ability in athletics, arts, and sciences in the complex area of U.S. Immigration and Nationality Law.