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COVID-19: USCIS, US Embassy and Consulate Closures for In-Person Appointments

March 19, 2020

Consular sections of US embassies around the world, as well as US Citizenship and Immigration Services, are beginning to announce cancellations of certain in-person services, including routine nonimmigrant and immigrant visa appointments, in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

US Embassy and Consulate Closures for In-Person Visa Appointments

Mail-in visa applications that do not require an in-person interview are generally still being processed, depending on the country. Currently, routine visa appointments at US consulates in Australia, Barbados, Costa Rica, France, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Panama, and Belfast (UK) have been canceled until further notice. The US Embassy in London is canceling most routine nonimmigrant visa appointments and reducing appointments for final interviews for permanent residence.

Some consular sections are allowing applicants to request an appointment under urgent or emergency circumstances that require the applicant to travel immediately. Applicants should be prepared to provide an explanation for the urgent travel under the guidelines. Services for US citizens may be limited, depending on the country. Employers with international offices should expect delays in travel for employee transfers to the employers’ US offices.

US Citizenship and Immigration Services Temporarily Closed to the Public

US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has suspended routine in-person services at its domestic field offices and asylum offices as of today, March 18, until at least April 1.

Which In-Person Services Are Suspended?

  • Interviews and appointments at domestic field offices
  • Biometrics appointments at Application Support Centers
  • InfoPass appointments
  • Asylum interviews at asylum offices

In-Person Services Previously Scheduled Between March 18–April 1

  • USCIS domestic field offices will send notices with instructions to applicants and petitioners with scheduled interview appointments or naturalization ceremonies impacted by this closure. USCIS will automatically reschedule appointments once normal operations resume. No further action is required at this time.
  • InfoPass appointments must be rescheduled through the USCIS Contact Center, once domestic field offices reopen to the public.
  • USCIS will automatically reschedule ASC appointments and mail new ASC appointment notices, once normal operations resume. No further action is required at this time; however, if the new ASC appointment notice is not received within 90 days, call 1.800.375.5283.
  • USCIS asylum offices will send interview cancellation notices and automatically reschedule asylum interviews. When USCIS reschedules the interview, asylum applicants will receive a new interview notice with the new time, date, and location for the interview.
  • USCIS will automatically reschedule naturalization oath ceremonies and mail a new ceremony appointment notice. No further action is required at this time; however, if the ceremony appointment notice is not received within 90 days, please reach out to the USCIS Contact Center.

If an applicant did not appear for a scheduled interview or appointment for reasons directly tied to COVID-19, the applicant should consult with immigration counsel to review next steps. If an applicant has already rescheduled an appointment or interview, no further action is required. USCIS has confirmed that appointments and interviews will be rescheduled without penalty.

Emergency Services

USCIS has confirmed that it will continue to provide emergency services for limited situations. To schedule an emergency appointment, please contact the USCIS Contact Center.

Additional Resources

  • For our clients, we have formed a multidisciplinary Coronavirus COVID-19 Task Force to help guide you through the broad scope of legal issues brought on by this public health challenge. We also have launched a resource page to help keep you on top of developments as they unfold. If you would like to receive a daily digest of all new updates to the page, please subscribe now to receive our COVID-19 alerts.

How We Can Help

As the situation develops daily, we recommend employers review their current employee mobility plans. Our lawyers stand ready to help enhance or develop mobility plans, or to discuss options for employees who need to obtain a US visa for urgent travel, or address pending USCIS applications. Please contact your Morgan Lewis lawyer, or any of the lawyers below, for assistance.

Contacts

If you have any questions or would like more information on the issues discussed in this alert, please contact any of the following Morgan Lewis lawyers:

Washington, DC
Shannon A. Donnelly
Eleanor Pelta
Eric S. Bord

New York
Jamie Cheung

Miami
Laura C. Garvin

San Francisco
A. James Vázquez-Azpiri
Christina M. Gonzaga