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.)

Contact: 732-632-9888, http://www.1visa1.com/

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Suspension of U.S. Domestic and Overseas Immigration/Visa Services Because of COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has stopped or slowed down most of the regular business activities of the world.  In response to the challenges related to the Coronavirus, various U.S. government agencies have also taken significant measures to protect public health. Both local and overseas immigration and visa services are also severely limited. 

Routine U.S. Consulate Visa Services Suspended 
As of 03/20/2020, the U.S. Department of State is temporarily suspending all routine visa services at all U.S. Embassies and Consulates.  All routine immigrant and nonimmigrant visa appointments are cancelled.  Urgent and emergency visa services are provided based on each embassy's or consulate's available resources. Visa applicants should refer to each embassy/consulate's website for further information. It should be noted that the ESTA/Visa Waiver Program is still available.  The Machine Readable Visa (MRV) fee is valid and may be used for a visa appointment in the country where it was purchased within one year of the date of payment.

ESTA/Visa Waiver Travelers May Extend Status 
Individuals admitted to the U.S. through John F. Kennedy International Airport, NY (JFK) and Newark Liberty International Airport, NJ (EWR) under the VWP/ESTA program who are not able to depart the U.S, before their authorized period of stay because of COVID-19 related issues can contact the Deferred Inspections office, (718) 553-3683,  at JFK, starting Monday, 03/16/2020, M-F, 9am to 4pm ET and request Satisfactory Departure for up to 30 days. Contact the CBP office of other airports for their specific procedures. 

USCIS Suspended Routine In-Person Services Until May 3rd.
As of 03/18/2020, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has suspended routine in-person services, including all interviews and biometrics appointments, until at least May 3rd. USCIS will continue to adjudicate applications submitted by mail. USCIS will send out new appointment notices to applicants. Applicants may also request for new appointments with USCIS. Individuals who need emergency services must schedule an appointment through the USCIS Contact Center, 800-375-5283. 

Premium Processing Services Suspended
USCIS suspended premium processing service for this year's H-1B CAP petitions until May and June 2020.  As of 03/20/2020, premium processing service has also been suspended for all I-129 and I-140 petitions until further notice. 

Scanned and Photocopied Signatures Temporarily Allowed 
USCIS has temporarily relaxed the requirement of original signatures in immigration petitions.  Previously certain applications including the I-129 petition must be submitted with the original signatures of the petitioners and applicants.  

1 comment:

Paul Szeto said...

Note: USCIS closure of local offices will be extended from April 1st to May 3rd.