Is USCIS extending deadlines because of the coronavirus? Hi, I’m Jim Hacking, immigration lawyer practicing law throughout the United States out of our office here in St. Louis, Missouri. These are certainly strange times we live in and I sometimes feel like I am a news anchorperson. I say that because things are happening so fast and so quickly that we are really seeing fast changes.
In order to make sure that I give you all the most accurate information for some of my videos, I’m actually bringing in props, or actually, prompts for me to make sure that I get everything right, so I will have a little bit of reading in this video.
In this video, what we’re going to talk about is this extension that USCIS supposedly announced late last week where they say that they’re going to extend the deadlines for notices of intent to deny and requests for evidence. Notice of intent to deny is a action taken by USCIS to notify someone who has applied for an immigration benefit that their case in trouble and that the federal government, USCIS, is thinking about denying their case.
They usually give you a 30-day deadline, sometimes they give you a little bit longer, but they say, “Hey, we are thinking about denying this case. We want to give you the opportunity, the chance to submit additional evidence.”
What they’re saying is if you receive one of these notices of intent to deny or if you receive a request for evidence, which isn’t as serious as a notice of intent to deny, but that it’s a request that you submit additional documentation because your application is somehow incomplete, that in those two instances you’re going to usually get 30 or 87 days to reply.
Here’s the announcement that USCIS made last week. Let me read it to you cause it’s a little bit tricky: “In response to the coronavirus pandemic, USCIS announced that it is adopting a measure to assist applicants and petitioners who are responding to requests for evidence and notices of intent to deny dated between March 1st and May 1st, 2020.” Now, that sounds pretty nice and pretty generous.
“For applicants and petitioners who receive an RFE or NOID dated between March 1st and May 1st, 2020, any responses submitted within 60 calendar days after the response deadline set forth in the RFE or the NOID will be considered by USCIS as before any action is taken. USCIS is adopting several measures to protect our workforce and community and to minimize the immigration consequences for those seeking immigration benefits during this time.” Now, the key phrase here is “will be considered before any action is taken.”
The tricky thing is, and I don’t think that at this point in time, we can assume that USCIS is acting in good faith. We’ve seen time and time again under this administration where they’re playing tricks on immigrants, they’re not acting in good faith, and this one really stinks because what they could have said is that “For applicants and petitioners who receive an RFE or NOID dated between March 1st and May 1, 2020, all deadlines for those responses will be extended by 60 days,” but that’s not what they said.
I really want to give a shout out to Andrew Bloomberg of our office because he pointed this out. He was the first one to see the notice. He said, “Isn’t it tricky that all they say is that any information provided will be considered by USCIS?” It’s a little bit shaky. It’s a little bit sneaky. I believe that we might have an argument that they extended the deadlines by 60 days, but clearly, that’s not what the language of this little announcement says. It wasn’t a formal rule, it was just the USCIS announcement.
By saying that they’re just going to consider the information doesn’t mean that they’re going to give it full weight. It doesn’t mean they’re going to treat it as if it was submitted on time. We believe that you have to get all your requests for evidence in on time. I would not rely on these extensions. If you absolutely have to, you have to, but the goal for our office is going to be to get these out the door before the state of deadline in the requests for evidence or the notice of intent to deny. We suggest that you take a similar approach because as I said, you cannot assume that these people are acting in good faith.
If you have questions about an RFE or need help with a notice of intent to deny, give us a call. (314) 961-8200. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to join us in our Facebook group, it’s called Immigrant Home. We have a lot of new members. There’ve been a lot of good immigration discussions about the news of the day. If you have any video topics, let us know in Immigrant Home or you can check us out on our YouTube channel and make sure you subscribe there so that you get updates whenever we make videos just like this one. You can leave us ideas there for any videos you’d like us to shoot. Thanks a lot. Have a great day.