A blog about U.S. immigration matters by Paul Szeto, a former INS attorney and an experienced immigration lawyer. We serve clients in all U.S. states and overseas countries. (All information is not legal advice and is subject to change without prior notice.)

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Wednesday, February 5, 2020

International I-130 Petitions / Changes of USCIS Services due to Coronavirus

As of February 1st, 2020, the Department of State (DOS) will handle certain international I-130 applications while USCIS will handle all domestic cases.

Overseas active duty service members are to file their I-130 with the local DOS office. Also, certain non-military candidates can file I-130 locally with DOS through consular processing .

The general rule is that DOS will handle Form I-130 locally if the application falls under blanket criteria determined by USCIS. Blanket authorization is in place for U.S. service members stationed abroad. Temporary blanket authorization can also be implemented in situations of civil strife and severe natural disaster. DOS also has discretion to accept a U.S. citizen petitioner's I-130 based on "exceptional circumstance". Overseas petitioners not meeting these criteria are required to file online or domestically through mailing the Dallas Lockbox Facility. 

The reason for this delegation of I-130 processing is to improve efficiency. USCIS states that DOS has a wider presence internationally, meaning it has the facilities to process Form I-130 locally. USCIS should have less administrative burden with the help of the State Department, hopefully speeding up domestic I-130 processing times.


Coronavirus

Due to the impact of the Coronavirus, the U.S Embassy and Consulates in China are temporarily closed to the public. All services and interviews are suspended until further notice. The USCIS field offices in Beijing and Guangzhou are also closed. All appointments have been or will be rescheduled for a later date.  The I-130 petitions can still be filed with the USCIS Lockbox as described above in the interim. 

Further, if individual applicants or petitioners are impacted by the Coronavirus, they may request for rescheduling of any USCIS appointments without penalty following the instructions in the appointment notices.


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