USCIS Operational Changes in Response to COVID-19

Gibney Anthony & Flaherty, LLP

Due to the impact of COVID-19 on its operations, USCIS has implemented several changes to the processing of petitions and the completion of forms. USCIS has also temporarily suspended all in-person services at its offices, including interviews and biometrics collection.

Temporary Suspension of Premium Processing

Effective March 20, 2020, USCIS has temporarily suspended premium processing service for all Form I-129 and I-140 petitions until further notice.

What This Means for Employers and Foreign Nationals

  • USCIS will process petitions with a previously accepted Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service.
  • For all petitions mailed before March 20 but not yet accepted, USCIS will reject Form I-907 and return the $1,440 filing fee.
  • Petitioners who filed a Form I-129 or Form I-140 using premium processing service who receive no agency action within the 15-calendar-day period will receive a refund.
  • Petitioners may submit a request to expedite their petition if it meets the expedite criteria.

Flexibility in Submitting Signed Petitions and Applications

USCIS will temporarily accept all benefit forms and documents with reproduced original signatures, including Form I-129, for submissions dated March 21, 2020 and after.

What This Means for Employers and Foreign Nationals 

  • For forms that require an original “wet” signature, USCIS will accept electronically reproduced original signatures. This temporary change only applies to signatures – all other form instructions should be followed.
  • Individuals or entities that submit documents bearing an electronically reproduced original signature must retain copies of the original documents containing the “wet” signature.
  • USCIS may, at any time, request the original signed documents, which, if not produced, could negatively impact the adjudication of the immigration benefit.

Automatic Extension of Some Filing Deadlines

On March 27, 2020 USCIS announced that it would extend response deadlines for some requests for evidence (RFEs) and notices of intent to deny (NOIDs).

What This Means for Employers and Foreign Nationals   

  • For applicants and petitioners who receive an RFE or NOID dated between March 1, 2020 and May 1, 2020, a response will be considered timely submitted if it is received at USCIS within 60 calendar days after the response deadline set in the RFE or NOID.
  • If an RFE or NOID is dated prior toMarch 1, 2020, applicants and petitioners must respond by the specified deadline.

In-Person Appointments Suspended

USCIS has suspended in-person services in-person services at all field offices, asylum offices and Application Support Centers (ASCs), including the collection of biometrics, through at least April 7, 2020. USCIS will provide limited emergency services which must be coordinated through the USCIS Contact Center.

What This Means for Employers and Foreign Nationals

  • The inability to collect biometrics and conduct in-person interviews will slow the adjudication of associated benefits, including applications for employment authorization, advance parole travel documents, and adjustment of status (“green card”) applications, among others.
  • Field offices will send notices to applicants and petitioners with scheduled appointments and naturalization ceremonies.
  • Asylum offices will send interview cancellation notices and automatically reschedule asylum interviews; applicants will receive a new interview notice with the new time, date and location.
  • ASCs will be automatically reschedule biometrics appointments when normal scheduling resumes and will send new appointment letters in the mail.
  • Individuals with InfoPass or other appointments must reschedule through the USCIS Contact Center once field offices are open to the public.

Ongoing Updates

The situation is rapidly evolving. USCIS continues to follow CDC guidelines and posts updates at  This site should be checked regularly.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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