Immigration and COVID-19 Updates


 

02/22/2021 - USCIS Announces Plans to Revert to the 2008 Version of the Naturalization Civics Test

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced today it is reverting to the 2008 version of the naturalization civics test.

On Dec. 1, 2020, we implemented a revised naturalization civics test (2020 civics test) as part of a decennial test review and update process. On March 1, 2021, we will revert to the 2008 version of the civics test.

We determined the 2020 civics test development process, content, testing procedures, and implementation schedule may inadvertently create potential barriers to the naturalization process. This action is consistent with the framework of the Executive Order on Restoring Faith in Our Legal Immigration Systems, which directs a comprehensive review of the naturalization process to eliminate barriers and make the process more accessible to all eligible individuals.

Applicants who filed their naturalization applications on or after Dec. 1, 2020, but before March 1, 2021, with an initial examination (interview) before April 19, 2021, will have the choice to either take the 2008 civics test or the 2020 civics test. We will notify applicants who are affected by the change. If the initial interview is scheduled on or after April 19, 2021, applicants will take the 2008 civic test.

We will also host a public engagement and conduct other outreach activities to ensure applicants are familiar with the different features of each test and which version of the civics test an applicant will need to take, based on the filing date (also known as a received date) and initial examination.

Additional information and study materials are available on our Citizenship Resource Center page.

 

02/04/2021 - DHS Delays Effective Date of H-1B Selection Final Rule

On Jan. 7, USCIS announced the H-1B Selection final rule, which amended the regulations governing the process by which USCIS selects H-1B registrations for the filing of H-1B cap-subject petitions.

To give USCIS more time to develop, test, and implement the modifications to the H-1B registration system and selection process, DHS is delaying the effective date of this final rule from March 9, 2021, to Dec. 31, 2021. The delay will also provide more time for USCIS to train staff and perform public outreach as well as give stakeholders time to adjust to the new rule.

For the upcoming H-1B cap season, USCIS will apply the current regulations (random selection) to any registration period that takes place before Dec. 31, 2021.

Additional information on the delayed effective date is available in the Federal Register notice.

 

01/16/2021- IMPORTANT: USCIS Closure

USCIS will be closed the following days:
Monday, 1/18 -- Martin Luther King birthday – a normal scheduled federal holiday and normal closure – ALL Federal Offices will be CLOSED.

Tuesday and Wednesday 1/19 and 1/20 – Out of an Abundance of Caution -- ALL USCIS Offices will be Closed to the PUBLIC. All Appointments are Canceled and WILL BE RESCHEDULED.

 

 

01/08/2021: USCIS Lockbox Updates

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and other factors, USCIS is experiencing delays in issuing receipt notices for some applications and petitions filed at a USCIS lockbox facility. The information below explains the current state of our lockbox operations and the issues affecting receipt notices.

Current Situation

As a result of COVID-19 restrictions, an increase in filings, current postal service volume and other external factors, you may experience a delay of four to six weeks in receiving your receipt notice after properly filing an application or petition with a USCIS lockbox. These delays will not affect the receipt date which is determined pursuant to 8 C.F.R. 103.2(a)(7). Delays may vary among form types and lockbox locations. In some cases, you may experience significant delays if you filed a non-family based Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, or Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, based on eligibility categories described in 8 C.F.R. 274a.12(c)(3), relating to F-1 students.

The health and safety of our workforce remains a top priority. Across all USCIS offices, including lockbox facilities, the agency has taken necessary measures such as increased social distancing and frequent cleaning in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control guidance to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Some lockbox operations in locations that have been severely impacted by COVID-19 must adhere to stricter local guidelines.

What USCIS Is Doing

The USCIS lockbox workforce' is working extra hours and redistributing its workload in order to minimize delays. Once we open and process your application, we print and mail the receipt notice. We do not anticipate any receipting delays that would result in a payment that is past its validity date.

What You Can Do

If you have already filed your application and are waiting for your receipt notice, we appreciate your patience. We are working as quickly as possible to complete the intake of all filings.

You can take steps to decrease the time it takes us to process and send yourreceipt notice or find out the status of your case:

Finally, visit our Form Filing Tips webpage for more information on filing with USCIS and our online tools for help in managing your application.


¹The USCIS lockbox facilities located in Chicago, Illinois; Phoenix, Arizona; and Lewisville, Texas, are operated by a Department of Treasury designated financial agent, plus federal staff.

 

 

05/15/2020: EOIR Stakeholder Update

Non-detained Immigration court will be closed now through Friday, June 12, 2020.

 

 

04/24/2020 Update: USCIS services during the COVID-19 crisis

On March 18, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services temporarily suspended in-person services at its field offices, asylum offices, and application support centers (ASCs) to help slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). USCIS is readying offices to reopen on or after June 4. Employees in these offices are continuing to perform mission-essential services that do not require face-to-face contact with the public while the offices are closed.

While offices are temporarily closed, USCIS will continue to provide limited emergency in-person services. Please call the USCIS Contact Center for assistance with emergency services.

USCIS field offices will send notices to applicants and petitioners with scheduled appointments and naturalization ceremonies impacted by the extended temporary closure. USCIS asylum offices will send interview cancellation notices and automatically reschedule asylum interviews. When the interview is rescheduled, asylum applicants will receive a new interview notice with the new time, date and location of the interview. When USCIS again resumes operations for in-person services, USCIS will automatically reschedule ASC appointments due to the temporary office closure. Individuals will receive a new appointment letter in the mail. Those who had InfoPass or other appointments must reschedule through the USCIS Contact Center once field offices are open to the public again. Please check to see if the respective office has been reopened before calling the Contact Center.

Please also visit uscis.gov/coronavirus for updates. For the latest information on the status of an office, visit https://www.uscis.gov/about-us/uscis-office-closings.

 

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04/22/2020 Update: President Donald Trump signed and released an executive order to put a temporary pause on U.S. immigration for 60 days

On the evening of April 20, 2020, President Trump tweeted he would be shutting down the immigration system for 60 days. The official executive order was signed and released on April 22, 2020, a copy can be found here. The order is effective at 11:59PM on April 23, 2020. The following people are affected: immigrant visa applicants outside the United States. Currently non-immigrant visas are not included in the ban. There are a long list of exceptions.

Who will this NOT AFFECT:

  • Spouses of US Citizens , Children of US citizens under the age of 2, & Adoptees in the IR-4 or IH-4 categories
  • US military members, spouses, and children
  • Lawful permanent residents , “green card holders”
  • Medical professionals and scientist working on COVID 19
  • EB-5 investors, and National Interest Visa Applicants
  • SI or SQ special immigrant categories
  • Individuals already in possession of their immigrant visas

General information:

  • The proclamation states it can be renewed or expanded
  • Most Consulates abroad are already closed do to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is not clear how much affect this order is really going to have
  • It does NOT mean you cannot start a petition process for family members now
  • USCIS is still working accepting applications for citizenship, adjustment of status and ore
  • Non-immigrant visas currently not affected, will be evaluated within 30days

 

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04/01/2020 Update: USCIS Temporary Office Closure Extended until at least May 3

On March 18, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services temporarily suspended in-person services at its field offices, asylum offices, and application support centers (ASCs) to help slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). USCIS offices will begin to reopen on May 4 unless the public closures are extended further. Employees in these offices are continuing to perform mission-essential services that do not require face-to-face contact with the public.

USCIS will continue to provide limited emergency services. Please call the Contact Center for assistance with emergency services.

USCIS field offices will send notices to applicants and petitioners with scheduled appointments and naturalization ceremonies impacted by the extended temporary closure. USCIS asylum offices will send interview cancellation notices and automatically reschedule asylum interviews. When the interview is rescheduled, asylum applicants will receive a new interview notice with the new time, date and location of the interview. When USCIS again resumes normal operations, USCIS will automatically reschedule ASC appointments due to the temporary office closure. You will receive a new appointment letter in the mail. Individuals who had InfoPass or other appointments must reschedule through the USCIS Contact Center once field offices are open to the public again. Please check to see if the office in your jurisdiction has been reopened before reaching out to the USCIS Contact Center.

Education and precautions are the strongest tools against infection. Get the latest facts by visiting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID-19 website. Continue to practice good health habits, refrain from handshakes or hugs as greetings, and wash hands and clean surfaces appropriately.

USCIS will provide further updates as the situation develops and will continue to follow CDC guidance. Please also visit uscis.gov/coronavirus for updates.

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03/28/2020 Update

Attorney Nayef Mubarak shares important updates regarding COVID-19 in a video, the effects on certain cases. Issues discussed in this video include:

  • Satisfactory departure for ESTA
  • USCIS closures
  • Court closures
  • Public Charge
  • Essential vs. Nonessential business

 

 

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03/27/2020 Update

In response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced that it is adopting a measure to assist applicants and petitioners who are responding to requests for evidence (RFEs) and notices of intent to deny (NOIDs) dated between March 1 and May 1, 2020.

For applicants and petitioners who receive an RFE or NOID dated between March 1 and May 1, 2020, any responses submitted within 60 calendar days after the response deadline set forth in the RFE or NOID will be considered by USCIS before any action is taken.

USCIS is adopting several measures to protect our workforce and community, and to minimize the immigration consequences for those seeking immigration benefits during this time.

USCIS will provide further updates as the situation develops and will continue to follow CDC guidance. Education and precautions are the strongest tools against COVID-19 infection. Please visit uscis.gov/coronavirus for latest facts and other USCIS updates.

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ESTA/ Visa waiver program update for those affected by the corona virus

Are you currently in the US on an ESTA, but are unable to depart the US? Normally individuals whom enter the US with ESTA or VWP are not eligible for any extension or change of status. Given the pandemic of COVID/19, and many individuals inability to travel you may be able to obtain what is called a “satisfactory departure.” This will help demonstrate that you did not overstay your visa, and you have done your best to comply with the laws. Contact us today if you need assistance!

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International Students, possible eligibility for work permit by Unforeseen Circumstances cause by Corona Virus (COVID/19)

The COVID virus is affecting everyone in the United States, and worldwide. If you are in the United States on an F-1 international student visa, and you are experiencing severe economic hardship due to this catastrophe of the pandemic, you may be eligible to apply for a work permit (employment authorization). Contact us today to see if we can help you. We will need to demonstrate the following:

  1. Loss of financial aid or on-campus employment (through no fault of your own);
  2. Substantial fluctuations in currency value or exchange rate;
  3. Inordinate increases in tuition or living costs;
  4. Unexpected changes in the financial condition of your source of support;
  5. Medical bills; and
  6. Other substantial and unexpected expenses.

Our experienced immigration attorneys have extensive experience representing international students, humanitarian applicants, and other foreign nationals. Contact us today at 407-502-3000. We pride ourselves for staying on top of the current laws.

 

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03/18/2020 Update

We are only an email or phone call away 📞

Our office is still operating in a virtual capacity, offers telephone and Skype consultations and meetings.

Please contact us if you need a consultation or if you need to file an extension of status. If you are here on ESTA there are certain things we can do to assist.

  • Immigration Courts are closed for non detained cases until April 10th.
  • All USCIS appointments are canceled until April 1st, for now this includes marriage based interviews, naturalization, oath ceremonies, etc.
  • Certain consulates are cancelling visa interviews abroad.
  • If you are our client and will be affected by any of the above, we will contact you.
  • If you need assistance and are not our client, contact us today so we may help.

 

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03/16/2020 Update

Office update/COVID-19: We are open, however, we are doing our best to limit in-person meetings. We are also opting to do consultations over the phone as a measure to protect our clients and our team. Many clients can reach us by phone or email. We ask that you mail any documents to the office. If you need to make a payment, you can click here to do so on our website, or you may mail a check/money order or by telephone. As always, please contact us if you have any questions.

Immigration Courts/EOIR has postponed all non-detained Master Calendar Hearings until April, 10, 2020. Individual Merits Hearings, filings, etc. will continue as scheduled and usual. If you are a client we will contact you if your hearing is canceled, otherwise plan on attending your hearing.

USCIS: has not decided to cancel any interviews at this time, however, rescheduling is being permitted for those who are ill. Please contact us if you have an upcoming interview with USCIS, and are not feeling well.

Personal Injury Cases/Non-immigration: Chief Justice Charles Canady issued an Administrative Order on March 13 limiting most face-to-face legal proceedings and suspending all grand jury proceedings, jury selection proceedings, and criminal and civil jury trials for a minimum of two weeks beginning Monday, March 16.

Additional information regarding international travel, for US citizens/permanent residents and noncitizens can be found at, www.dhs.gov

If you do not already, please follow us on all social media platforms to receive important updates on the law and our office.

For additional information about COVID-19, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at cdc.gov.

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