As you may already know, our office has closed to the public in order to try and stop the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). We know your immigration case is important to you and we continue to work remotely to communicate with you and meet all deadlines. We are holding all consultations and meetings by phone or Skype, and are able to work on your cases remotely.
As of today, the federal government has not yet closed completely, but the different federal agencies involved in immigration have announced a piece-meal approach in response to the coronavirus pandemic:
EOIR Deportation Hearings Postponed
Effective today, March 18, 2020, all non-detained hearings (Master Calendar and Individual Hearing) are postponed indefinitely until further notice. Hearings for immigrants in detention continue unchanged. Further, the following immigration courts have closed completely: Atlanta (Peachtree); Charlotte; Houston (Gessner); Louisville; Memphis; New York City (Broadway & Federal Plaza); Newark; Sacramento; Los Angeles (Olive).
In-Person USCIS Appointments Postponed
Effective today, March 18, 2020, all in-person services at USCIS field offices are suspended until at least April 1, 2020, but possibly longer. This means that all adjustment of status (I-485) green card interviews, naturalization
(citizenship) interviews, asylum interviews, naturalization oath ceremonies, and biometrics appointments scheduled between March 18, 2020 and April 1, 2020 (and possibly later) will automatically be rescheduled for a later time. USCIS will only entertain in-person services for true emergency situations. Unfortunately, USCIS has NOT yet extended filing deadlines for filing non-immigrant extensions, responses to Requests for Evidence (RFE), responses to Notices of Intent to Deny (NOID), filing appeals and motions, etc.
U.S. Consulates Close Worldwide
U.S. Embassies and Consulates worldwide have closed for non-immigrant and immigrant visa interview appointments. This includes the U.S. Consulates in India, China and as of today, March 18, 2020, the U.S. Consulates in Mexico, including in Ciudad Juarez. This means that individuals who are presently abroad waiting for an interview will be stuck abroad until such a date when the U.S. Consulate in that country re-opens and reschedules their interview.
CBP Issues Process for Seeking 30 Day Extension for Those with VWP/ESTA
Individuals who have entered the U.S. pursuant to the Visa Waiver Program (VWP or ESTA) are permitted to remain in the U.S. for only 90 days. Federal regulations do not permit the filing of a B-1/B-2 nonimmigrant extension for such cases, but considering the seriousness of the global coronavirus pandemic, CBP has issued guidance for seeking a one-time 30-day request for Satisfactory Departure, which permits the individual to seek permission to depart up to 30-days after the 90-day period of admission. The request for Satisfactory Departure must be made during the validity 90-day admission period. Contact our attorneys if you are unable to depart the U.S. during your 90-day admission period pursuant to VWP/ESTA and you need assistance requesting this 30-day extension.
The situation continues to change very quickly, and it is impossible to predict how long these changes will remain in place. We are, however, staying abreast of all changes and will communicate the impact of all changes to our existing clients. At this time, we do not anticipate any disruption in being able to represent our clients or meet their immigration deadlines. We appreciate your patience as we work through this difficult time.