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Immigration News & Updates for June 2020

Given the changes brought about by the pandemic, you’re probably wondering, is immigration going to reopen? What are other USCIS changes that I need to know?

In this post, former immigrant and now immigration attorney Andres Mejer gives an update on the impact of current events on immigration procedures such as green card processing, interviews, and office reopenings.

Demands for A Fair Society: Floyd’s Death

This week, America felt the weight of the horrific racial violence that continues unabated. The news has been filled with stories about how George Floyd died while being restrained. This sparked the public outcry to hold enforcement agencies accountable—both at the border and across America.

At Andres Mejer Law, we stand with black communities in demanding accountability. We stand together in our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. And, we must do more to connect our pursuit of a fair and just immigration system to the pursuit of a fair and just society for all.

Changes in Immigration Processes: Pandemic

Immigration courts. Given the health crises, Immigration decided that detained cases will remain open while non-detained cases are postponed through and including June 26, 2020. 

Embassies and Consulates. There is still no new information regarding the embassy opening. However, emergency situations will be addressed for U.S. citizens. USCIS is planning to reopen non-emergency services after June 4, 2020, but shall reduce the number of appointments and interviews to allow for social distancing, cleaning, and reduce waiting room occupancy.

Asylum interviews. For asylum seekers, interviews are expected to be done by video. If you have an interview coming up, consider discussing it with your immigration attorney.  At Andres Mejer Law, we discourage the use of video/telephone when your life is on the line. Take note that during an asylum interview, you have to bring all family members listed as dependents on the application and an English speaking interpreter.  Depending on the notice, your attorney may attend telephonically. 

Naturalization ceremonies. If you have passed your naturalization exam, but haven’t been sworn in yet, you will get a new notice in the mail.  The ceremony will be shorter and there will likely be fewer people at each ceremony. 

Interviews and appointments. All previously scheduled appointments are being rescheduled. It is highly recommended that you file a request to be rescheduled and keep a copy of your request. During the interview, only the applicant, one family member, and one representative (attorney) will be allowed in.  If you need an interpreter, he or she should be available by phone. 

Biometrics. Expect to get a new appointment letter in the mail. You can opt to not wait and just request that your appointment be rescheduled. Expect delays do it id important to get on the list as quickly as possible. 

USCIS offices. In compliance with local health protocols, you won’t be allowed inside the immigration office if you meet any of the following: 

  • Have symptoms of covid19 like, cough, fever, or difficulty breathing
  • Been in close contact with anyone known or suspected to have covid19 in the last 14 days
  • Directed to self-quarantine by a health care provider in the last 14 days

Moreover, visitors can only enter 15 minutes before their appointment (or 30 minutes for naturalization) and must wear facial covers for the mouth and nose and their own pens. Hand sanitizers will be provided at entry.

How Changes in Immigration Affect Applicants

Increasing Filing Fees. USCIS is self-funded through filing fees, and the number of visitors has been limited, expect prices to go up. USCIS has asked Congress for a 1.2 Billion dollar and a 10%  increase in filing fees across the board. Before the COVID19 outbreak, Trump even stated that he plans on increasing some fees by over 500%! 

Don’t wait for filing fees to get too high! File your application now. Let our immigration attorneys at Andres Mejer Law help you. We can educate you about the 6 steps of the green card process, check your qualification, and help you prepare the necessary paperwork. 

Converting from immigrant to lawful permanent resident. To become a legal permanent resident or green card holder, you will need to fill out form I-485 if you intend to adjust your status while in the U.S. A different form will be required if you will be interviewed outside the U.S.  

If you entered the country legally or if you qualify for the Life Act 245i (because someone filed or your on or before 4/30/01), you can usually file I-485 at the same time as I-130.  If you work with our law firm, our background search will help prove your 245i eligibility which allows you to have work authorization and a social security number prior to getting your green card.  

You will then have an interview at the USCIS office, and the officer is supposed to decide within 120 days from your interview. At the interview, the officer can request more documents or indicate you need a waiver for something in your past.

However, if your entry is not legal and you’re not eligible for either 245i/PIP, you need to go through a consular process. If you were in the US without permission for more than 180 days but less than 365 days, you can’t return for 3 years, while if you were in the US without permission for more than 365 days, you can’t return for 10 years.

Additional waivers may be needed if you have other things that make you ineligible for legal permanent residence (green card). Speak with an immigration lawyer to determine which waiver you’ll need in your application. We are committed to giving your case the priority it deserves. Call Andres Mejer Law today at 888-267-2523 to explore your legal options.