The USCIS is continuing to process petitions and applications filed with the agency through its usual lockbox offices. Receipts are being issued by USCIS with some occasional delays likely related to the number of employees and contractors working at any given time. Petitions and applications are routed by the lockbox offices to specific regional centers for further processing and adjudication. (This includes centers located in California, Nebraska, Texas, Vermont, Missouri and the Washington DC area.) The receipts you receive from USCIS indicate which of these centers will be responsible for your petition and or application. At some point, USCIS may transfer your petition or application to another center to speed up processing. Essentially this is a work load adjustment.
USCIS Interviews. As of March 18, 2020 USCIS ceased all in person interviews at its field offices for two weeks and then extended that date for another week until April 7. Cancellation notices were sent by email and by mail. USCIS has also cancelled all naturalization ceremonies for this same time period. All biometric appointments have been cancelled with all Application Support Centers closed. Based on President Trump’s social distancing announcement on Sunday, March 29, it seems likely that the cancellation of interviews, biometric appointments, and naturalization ceremonies will continue through the end of April. Resets of interviews will come from the USCIS. THERE IS NO NEED TO REQUEST A RESET.
Waivers of Adjustment Interviews. At this time, it is unknown whether USCIS may waive some interviews for adjustment of status applicants. In the past, this had occurred for the parents of US citizens and for employment based applicants and their dependents—unless the applicant had any criminal record, including even minor traffic citations. Time will tell how this will unfold.
Employment Authorization Documents & Biometrics. TODAY March 30 the USCIS announced it will utilize the fingerprint records it has for individuals applying for renewals of employment authorization, including DACA applicants. remains to be seen.
NOTE: Applicants for Adjustment of Status (I485) seeking renewal of their employment authorization documents (EADs) who file their I765 applications prior to expiration of their current EADs are authorized to continue their employment for up to 180 days after the expiration date of the current EADs—they must present the USCIS receipt and the soon to expire EAD to the employer.
Regional Service Center Adjudications. These regional centers are continuing to adjudicate petitions and applications. This includes the I129 petition filed by employers seeking to classify or extend a range of nonimmigrant visa classifications ranging from H1B to L1 to O1 to R1 among others. This also includes the I539 applications for dependents of foreign nationals with these types of visa classifications. This includes I140 immigrant visa petitions. BUT there is NO premium processing: it may be resumed in the future. This includes I130 immigrant visa petitions filed on behalf of qualifying family members who are overseas or who are not eligible to adjust status in the United States. This includes I129F petitions for fiancé/es of US citizens. Times for the processing of these petitions varies widely. Processing times are posted at uscis.gov.
Permanent Resident Applications. How these applications will be adjudicated is unclear at this time. The National Benefit Center (NBC) in Lee Summit, Missouri handles these applications in terms of review and of scheduling of interviews by USCIS Field Offices. If an NBC adjudicator determines an application requires additional evidence before it was deemed ready to move to a field office for an interview, then a Request for Evidence would be issued by the NBC. Since no USCIS field office interviews are occurring at this time, many permanent resident applications are on hold.
Emergencies. USCIS adjudicators continue to work in field offices on adjudication of applications when individuals had been interviewed but that were pending RFE responses or resolution of other issues. For emergencies it is possible to contact USCIS customer service by phone and attempt to schedule an in person appointment with USCIS in a local field office. Generally, USCIS Customer Service has a very narrow view of what constitutes an emergency.
NOTE: Changes come swiftly. Stay tuned and stay in unless your work is essential. And a SHOUT OUT of Thanks to all such essential workers from those in health care to those long haul drivers moving goods and so many others!