The coronavirus outbreak has led to a massive disruption of everyday life across the globe. Immigration has been affected, including to the United States. Consulates, embassies, and domestic U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) field offices have temporarily shut down, and many international borders are closing. You may be wondering how these changes will impact your green card or naturalization application.
In this guide we’ll cover FAQs related to the coronavirus and:
Note: Since the outbreak is a rapidly developing situation, we will modify this guide as we learn more, so be sure to keep checking back for the latest updates.
IMPORTANT: At this moment, the team at Boundless is doing everything we can to remain operational and ensure applications get to our customers.
How is the coronavirus impacting the processing time of my application that’s already been submitted?
We are not sure yet how long the pandemic will last. Visa processing times will be dependent on a uniform global response to COVID-19. If USCIS has informed you about rescheduling your biometrics or interview appointment, please follow the instructions in the document. USCIS will reschedule all appointments. Keep track of USCIS domestic delays here.
How will COVID-19 impact the processing time of my application once I submit it?
At this time, USCIS is rescheduling all interviews and biometrics appointments due to office closures. All applications turned into USCIS are still being processed at their respective lockbox, although this process is taking longer than usual. Without a biometrics notice, a work and travel permit will not be processed. Depending on how long the closures remain, this will add to the 5-8 months processing times for a work and travel permit, and to the 11-14 month processing time for a green card.
How do I get proof of employment now that my employer has closed?
Please provide a letter on company letterhead confirming that your employer has closed temporarily due to coronavirus. Note: USCIS may not consider this to be sufficient evidence proving current income and your chances of receiving a Request for Evidence (or “RFE”) may increase. Make sure to check with your independent immigration attorney if a letter from your employer will suffice.
How do I get passport photos when I can’t leave the house right now?
I was laid off because of COVID-19 closures and now I’m collecting unemployment. Does this look bad for my application?
USCIS considers other factors beyond income, namely your assets and whether or not you’ve chosen to use a joint sponsor.
If you are the beneficiary, a lack of work history and current employment may negatively affect your application. However, USCIS looks at every application on a case-by-case basis.
Is my interview at the consulate cancelled because of closures, even though I haven’t heard from them yet?
Presume your interview is still ongoing, but call your consulate first to ensure the appointment is still in effect.
Can I switch consulates for an interview?
This will depend on the circumstance; most changes occur due to the beneficiary working abroad. You can request to switch consulates by contacting the National Visa Center (NVC). Please note they have an 8-week delay in responding to inquiries.
I had an interview scheduled for my adjustment of status application. What happens now that interviews aren’t happening?
Please await further instructions from USCIS. To stay up-to-date, please register your receipt number to get the latest information on rescheduling.
I had a biometrics appointment scheduled at a USCIS office but the office was closed. Will I be able to reschedule? Will this impact my timeline?
When USCIS resumes normal operations, the agency will automatically reschedule Application Support Center appointments due to the office closure. If you do not receive a new appointment notice by mail within 90 days, call 800-375-5283.
My naturalization ceremony were cancelled due to the USCIS office being closed. When will I be able to reschedule and complete that step?
USCIS will automatically reschedule your ceremony. You will receive a notice for your rescheduled ceremony by mail. If you do not receive a notice within 90 days, please reach out to the USCIS Contact Center.
The restriction on travel and border crossing plus the reduction of available flights is causing me to overstay my visa. How will this impact my application?
There are few provisions under U.S. law to extend the stay of people admitted under the Visa Waiver Program (or “VWP”). One option is for you and your attorney to request “Satisfactory Departure,” which may allow you to remain in the United States for an additional 30 days. U.S. Customs and Border Protection is considering whether to extend this period if people under the VWP are unable to depart the United States after their initial 30-day period because of COVID-19 issues.
I started my application in the U.S. (adjusting my status) but now I think I should go home and take care of my mother amid the pandemic closures. How will this impact my application?
As long an individual has remained in status and leaves the country before their visa expires, this generally will not pose any issues. Be sure to speak to an independent attorney if you have overstayed your visa and wish to change your application process.
I submitted an I-130 (officially the “Petition for Alien Relative”) from abroad, and I’m in the United Stated visiting right now, and it looks like I’m going to have a hard time going home. How will this impact my application if I stay in the U.S.?
Violating a visa may negatively impact an application and produce further legal complexities. Please reach out to your independent attorney to find out if Satisfactory Departure (see above) is the right option for you.
Even though the consulates are closed, since I haven’t submitted anything yet, will my I-130 be impacted once I submit?
I’m in the United States and have a valid visa. Should I wait to submit my marriage-based green card application until the response to COVID-19 is over?
This is largely up to you. USCIS is still accepting applications for marriage green cards.
Will getting tested for the coronavirus or receiving discounted care at a medical facility negatively impact my green card or citizenship application under the new public charge rule?
No. USCIS announced that getting tested or seeking treatment for COVID-19 will not count against a would-be immigrant under the public charge rule. Accessing discounted care at hospitals or clinics is also not listed as a public benefit under the rule. For a full list of the government benefits that are considered during a public charge assessment, head over here.
Will receiving unemployment benefits put my green card or citizenship application at risk under the public charge rule?
No. Receiving unemployment benefits is not counted as a negative factor under the public charge rule.