What are the details of the USCIS reopening?
Hi, I’m Jim Hacking, immigration lawyer practicing law throughout the United States out of our office here in St. Louis, Missouri. The USCIS has announced and is in the process of reopening their field offices across the country.
Back in March of 2020, they had shut down offices for face-to-face client interviews or immigrant interviews, and so now we’re at a stage where they’re reopening, and we thought we’d shoot this video to explain to you sort of the guidelines on what’s going to happen.
First of all, you’re directed to not come to the USCIS if you have COVID-19 or if you have a fever or if you’re sick, so that makes general sense.
These are federal government buildings, and they’re not going to let you in if you’re sick. Number two, you have to bring a mask, so you have to cover your mouth and your nose, so we’ll be doing interviews in the short-term with masks on, which isn’t going to be much fun, but it is what it is. And then you’re also not going to be allowed into the place until 15 minutes before your interview.
In some of these offices, like I can think about some of the ones in Texas that I’ve been to, San Antonio in particular, and other ones that are way crowded and where there’s way too many people in there and where security takes a really long time.
It’ll be interesting to see how this all plays out, but I know more than anything, it’s just going to mean more delay, which is of course by design. The field offices are reopening.
In fact, we’ve started getting interview notices, most of them for the new ones for the end of June 2020, so if you had a case that was delayed or postponed because of the virus, you’ll probably be getting an interview notice. Those interview notices should be coming automatically.
The asylum office should also be issuing new notices automatically, so if you had an interview scheduled, you’ll be rescheduled here pretty quickly.
And as I’ve mentioned before, there’s a lot of things wrong in USCIS, but the system they have for rescheduling things that get postponed or canceled seems to be pretty automatic and works out pretty well, so I imagine that we’ll start seeing the immigration officer’s calendars start filling up again, and interviews will start proceeding.
Now, when it comes to in actualization, the naturalization ceremonies, there were a lot of people who got delayed, and so I think the USCIS offices are trying to do lots of different things to try to get this up and running again.
Now, there’s been some pushback against President Trump and the thought that they’re not going to try to naturalize as many people as possible because it’s an election year, and the thought is that most immigrants will vote Democratic, so it’ll be interesting to see if these ceremonies go through.
But I know that I’ve talked to clerks of court around the country and that they’re talking about the judges really want, the federal judges who naturalize people, really want to get these ceremonies going again, so they’re trying to figure out and be creative in ways that they can sort of expedite it.
I’ve heard ideas, including just individual and that ceremonies that are like five minutes long or more administrative naturalization, so some offices have the ability to naturalize people without a federal judge.
And then even if they do have ceremonies, they’ll be much shorter and probably staggered in a way that people aren’t all congregating in one place. I think that’s the one thing that they want to avoid.
So immigration’s back on. Let’s see how it goes. We’ll keep you posted.
We’ll be watching and reporting back to you whenever we hear new news about the immigration office and opens and closings and all those things.
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