Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick discusses a new and important topic: are green card interviews being waived during the Coronavirus pandemic?
Keep on watching for more information.
As many of you know, on March 18th USCIS announced the closure of USCIS field offices, ASC centers, and asylum offices nationwide until at least May 3rd to minimize the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).
That means that most interviews and biometrics appointments initially scheduled to take place between March 18th and May 3rd are being rescheduled.
Certain Employment-Based Green Card Interviews Waived
Typically, a green card applicant must attend an in-person interview at a USCIS field office (if based on marriage or employment) before their green card application can be approved. That is because USCIS must ensure that the green card applicant meets all eligibility requirements.
Curiously, during the last few days, certain green card applicants have seen their green card interviews waived instead of rescheduled. This has been occurring mainly for employment-based green card applicants. This class of individuals have seen their green cards approved, and have received their green cards in the mail, without having to attend the green card interview.
While this has been the case for some individuals, others have received requests for evidence requesting that the medical examination be mailed to USCIS. This practice leads us to believe that at least for some applicants, the green card interview is being waived.
We would like to highlight that at the moment there is no official policy or memorandum which states that USCIS is waiving interviews as a result of the COVID-19 office closures. This video merely provides an update regarding the situation and what we are seeing in practice.
It certainly seems to be the case that for at least some green card applicants—mainly employment-based green card applicants—USCIS is relaxing the green card interview requirement and granting these applications for the time being.
We do not predict that this will be the norm for marriage-based green card applicants since immigration officers need to see the couple in person to ensure the bona fides of the marriage.
Labor Certifications Emailed
We would also like to report that the Department of Labor is currently speeding up adjudication of labor certifications and is issuing certifications by electronic mail and snail mail. Although certifications are being made by electronic mail to provide quick notifications, applicants must still include the original labor certification (received by mail) with I-140 and employment-based green card filings.
Electronic and Reproduced Signatures Allowed
Additionally, USCIS recently announced that it will accept all benefit forms and documents with reproduced original signatures, including the Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, for submissions dated March 21, 2020, and beyond.
This means that “wet” signatures are no longer required for most forms. A document may be scanned, faxed, photocopied, or similarly reproduced provided that the copy must be of an original document containing an original handwritten signature, unless otherwise specified
For EAD renewal applications, USCIS has announced that the agency will be re-using the applicant’s initial biometrics to avoid any delays in adjudication. This means that EAD renewal applications will not need to attend a biometrics appointment at an ASC office.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding these updates please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call our office at 619-819-9204 for a consultation.