USCIS To Gradually Reopen Select Offices and Resume Non-Emergency Public Services Next Week
May 28, 2020 | United States of America
USCIS has announced plans to reopen some offices and resume non-emergency public services on or after June 4, 2020.
Since March 18, 2020, USCIS has closed its offices nationwide and cancelled routine in-person services at its asylum offices, field offices, and application support centers due to the COVID-19 National Health Emergency. As virus-related restrictions are gradually lifted, USCIS will slowly reopen its offices and resume regular operations according to guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Although USCIS plans to reopen next week, the process will take place gradually. Only select offices will reopen at first and with limited staff reporting to opened offices. Public health guidelines will be enforced in all open offices, including strict social distancing measures. Offices will be cleaned in between appointments, and limits will be placed on the number of people allowed inside at once. These required cleaning procedures in addition to the limited staff will reduce the number of in-person appointments and interviews available each day.
To ensure the health and safety of all visitors, USCIS encourages anyone who is sick to reschedule his or her appointment. Appointment cancellations due to illness are free of charge.
All asylum interviews cancelled due to the COVID-19 National Emergency will be automatically rescheduled. USCIS will send applicants a notice with the new interview time, date, and location when their appointment is rescheduled.
All Application Support Center (ASC) appointments cancelled due to COVID-19 will be automatically rescheduled. Applicants will receive a letter in the mail with information on the new appointment time and date, along with specific safety requirements for the interview. Interviewees are cautioned that appearing at a time or date other than what is listed on the appointment notice may result in lengthy processing delays.
Guidelines will also apply for naturalization ceremonies. Applicants will receive notification from USCIS when their appointments are rescheduled. Naturalization ceremonies may be shorter than normal to limit attendees’ risk of exposure. All legally required portions of the ceremonies will take place in person while other portions will be conducted by applicants watching videos on the agency’s website rather than watching them in person. In-person attendance will be limited to the naturalization candidate and individuals providing disability assistance, if applicable.
Individuals originally scheduled for all other appointments will receive a notice from USCIS on rescheduling instructions. Other appointments and interviews must be rescheduled through the USCIS Contact Center. They will be scheduled when the agency’s field offices reopen to the public. Individuals with other appointments should check the USCIS office closure page to see if their local office has reopened. If it has, they may call the USCIS Contact Center to schedule an appointment. In-person appointments at USCIS field offices are limited to the applicant, one family member, one representative, and one individual providing disability assistance, if applicable. Applicants should arrange to have an interpreter join by phone.
In advance of all in-person appointments, USCIS provides safety guidelines for individuals visiting its facilities. The following safety precautions will remain in effect until further notice:
- Facial coverings that cover the nose and mouth must be worn in USCIS facilities at all times.
- Visitors must pay attention to all signs and physical barriers in USCIS facilities to ensure compliance with social distancing guidelines.
- Visitors should bring their own pens in blue or black ink to avoid the risk of disease exposure.
- Individuals are prohibited from entering a facility more than 15 minutes before their appointment, or 30 minutes before a naturalization ceremony.
USCIS also reserves the right to ban visitors from a facility if they have any symptoms of COVID-19, if they have been in close contact with anyone who has had COVID-19 in the past 14 days, or if they have been instructed to self-quarantine or self-isolate by a health care professional within the past 14 days.
USCIS reminds the public that the reopening process will be gradual due to safety precautions and the agency’s limited availability to accommodate appointments. USCIS will provide notices as appointments are rescheduled. Additionally, the agency will continue providing emergency services at this time. Anyone who needs to schedule an emergency appointment should contact the USCIS Contact Center for assistance.
Additional information regarding USCIS office reopenings, safety protocols, and interview rescheduling is available on the agency’s website.