The Latest: U.S. Immigration's Responses to COVID-19
Updated: Aug 24
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service
The latest on USCIS’s response to COVID-19 is at uscis.gov/about-us/uscis-response-coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19.
On March 18th, USCIS suspended all routine in-person services. On June 4th, some offices began to open, but USCIS has not announced when the Colorado offices will begin reopening. You can see the latest on all the USCIS offices at https://www.uscis.gov/es/estatus-oficinas.
USCIS will automatically reschedule all appointments scheduled during this time and will mail new appointment notices. This includes ASC fingerprint appointments, asylum appointments, and naturalization oath ceremonies.
Emergency appointments are available by calling 800-375-5283 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern.
Even after USCIS reopens, they do not want you to go to your appointment if you are sick or if you have special health concerns that make you more vulnerable to the virus. For most appointments, follow the rescheduling instructions on your interview notice. For InfoPass appointments, reschedule by calling 800-375-5283.
USCIS is still receiving and processing applications. So if you are waiting on a decision that does not require biometrics or an interview (like a work authorization renewal or an I-129F or I-130 petition), you should still expect an on-time decision.
USCIS will process work authorization renewals using the fingerprints taken for your last work authorization.
Deadlines for responses to request for evidence, notices of intent to deny, notices of intent to revoke, and notices of intent to terminate dated between March 1st and July 1st, inclusive have been extended for 60 additional days past the original deadline.
If denies your application between March 1st and July 1st, and it is a decision that can be appealed, then the deadline for your appeal (Form I-290B) is extended 60 days beyond the original deadline.
If your nonimmigrant status expires and you are unable to leave the United States on time because of the COVID-19 closures, you should apply to extend or change your status. USCIS has announced it will accept a late application to extend or change status if the application convincingly documents the reason for the delay and the delay is reasonable under the circumstances.
If your ESTA (visa waiver program) authorized stay is about to expire and you are unable to leave the United States on time because of the COVID-19 closures, you should request a 30-day extension, called a "satisfactory departure," from USCIS or CBP. To request it from USCIS, call 800-375-5283. To request it from CBP, contact the CBP office at the airport (or land port of entry) where you entered the United States.
U.S. Embassies & Consulates
On March 19, the Department of State issued a Level 4 Global Health Advisory recommending no international travel. U.S. citizens who are overseas and experience a COVID-19 related emergency should contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.
On March 20, the Department of State suspended all routine visa services at all U.S. embassies and consulates.
Since then, they have begun to provide some services related to H-2 visas, and H and J visas for medical professionals.
Visit travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/COVID-19-Country-Specific-Information.html for more details.
Aurora, CO: The detained court closed on March 26th, but at last check the court is open and conducting hearings.
Denver, CO: All non-detained hearings have been suspended from March 18 through at least September 11. If your case is affected, you will receive a paper notice rescheduling your hearing.
You can also find the current operational status of each immigration court at justice.gov/eoir/eoir-operational-status-during-coronavirus-pandemic.
Immigration & Customs Enforcement
ICE publishes updates at ice.gov/covid19.
On March 18th, they said they would focus their enforcement efforts on “public safety risks and individuals subject to mandatory detention based on criminal grounds.” It is unclear whether they have followed this, but even if they do, this still describes a lot of people.
ICE does not make arrests at hospitals “except under extraordinary circumstances.” Colorado’s Governor also just signed a law yesterday making it illegal for ICE to make courthouse arrests.
As of April 17, ICE suspended all check-ins and home visits for people on ATD (alternatives to detention). They will still use phone calls and other forms of supervision that do not require contact.
The Aurora, CO Detention Facility
There have been reports of ICE releasing many more people than usual from the Aurora detention facility. The numbers are not available yet, and it is not clear how ICE chose who to release, or whether they will continue releasing people.
Non-legal visits to the detention facility have been suspended for some time. Legal visitors are now required to provide and wear personal protective equipment to enter the facility, and even with this equipment, they will be denied entry if they have a temperature of 100.4 or higher.
On March 25, Westword reported that an ICE agent who works at the Aurora, CO ICE detention facility tested positive for COVID-19. There were also reports that the detention facility began isolating some detainees with concerning symptoms. So far, there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 cases inside the facility.
Department of Labor
The Office of Foreign Labor Certification is completely operational. They have said they will grant extensions to businesses and law firms that are unable to respond to requests within the normal window.
We are not currently working on any cases that involve the OFLC, so I have not been keeping a super close eye on their updates. I do have access to a recent FAQ, so if you have questions, feel free to reach out.