The Impact of Coronavirus on USCIS Offices and Immigration Court

Wendy Bonilla
Law Clerk
Bolour/Carl Immigration Group

Immigration agencies and courts are actively monitoring the effects of the public health emergency associated with the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) on their operations.

As of March 18, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) stated that they have temporarily suspended in-person services at its field offices, asylum offices, and Application Support Centers (ASCs) to help slow the spread of COVID-19. USCIS plans to reopen its offices on April 7 unless the public closures are extended further. However, USCIS will provide emergency services for limited situations.

USCIS domestic field offices will send notices with instructions to applicants and petitioners with scheduled interview appointments or naturalization ceremonies impacted by this closure. They will automatically be rescheduled once normal operations resume. USCIS will also automatically reschedule Application Support Center appointments due to the office closure. Asylum offices will send interview cancellation notices and automatically reschedule asylum interviews. Asylum applicants will receive a new interview notice with the new time, date, and location for the interview.

The Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), which is the office responsible for adjudicating all immigration cases in the U.S., has also faced operational changes due to COVID-19. EOIR stated that case status and hearing date information may not be updated for those cases postponed due to operational changes during the coronavirus pandemic, but following the issuance of a new hearing notice, such information will be updated. They want to remind everyone that, as always, court documents such as notices are the official source of information.

As of March 26, all non-detained hearing scheduled through April 10, 2020, have been postponed. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security and EOIR have stated that they are deeply committed to ensuring that individuals ‘have their day in court’ while also ensuring the health and safety of aliens, frontline officers, immigration court professionals, and citizens.

Due to circumstances resulting form COVID-19, all Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) master calendar and merit hearings presently scheduled through April 22 will be rescheduled. Neither the MPP program nor any hearing will be cancelled. Any individual with an MPP hearing date through April 22 should present themselves at their designated port of entry on their previously scheduled date to receive a tear sheet and hearing notice containing their new hearing dates.

Any filings due during a court closure should be filed by March 30. Filing deadlines after March 30 remain in effect subject to the discretion of the immigration judge. There is no requirement that documents be filed in person. For all courts, parties are encouraged to file by mail or by the EOIR Courts and Appeals System where available. For a closed court, filings should be made at an alternative court location.

At Bolour/Carl Immigration Group, we are ready to continue serving the community during this crisis.  Call us at 323-857-0034 with your immigration questions.  Doing our part to help, until further notice, we are waiving our standard consultation fee.  Stay safe everyone.