From public health to the economy to the legal system, COVID-19 has incurred far-reaching consequences in virtually every sector of our society. If you’re concerned about how the coronavirus pandemic could affect your immigration process, you aren’t alone. The Gaston Law Firm, P.A. is assisting clients at all stages of their immigration journeys during this global crisis, and we are ready to help you as well. To keep our team, clients, and community safe, we are conducting all consultations via Skype, phone, or email.
Our firm is remaining fully operational because we understand that your matter is urgent. We are here as your trusted guides and advocates while immigration offices and policies adjust to the pandemic. During an unpredictable crisis, you deserve to have a dependable support system—and The Gaston Law Firm, P.A. is the team you need.
Changes to Immigration During the Pandemic
Keeping our clients informed is incredibly important to us. If you are unsure of how the pandemic has affected your immigration matter, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us with questions. In the meantime, here is a brief overview of major changes to the immigration system in response to COVID-19.
- Suspension of in-person services with USCIS. This includes appointments for biometrics, interviews, and naturalization ceremonies. Most appointments will be automatically rescheduled. USCIS is still conducting services that do not involve direct contact with the public, as well as emergency matters.
- Suspension of routine services at all U.S. Embassies and Consulates. This affects all immigrant and nonimmigrant visa appointments (except for emergency matters, the Visa Waiver Program, and many H-2 cases).
- Suspension of premium processing. The premium processing program allowed applicants to expedite Forms I-129 and I-140, reducing the wait time from several months or a year to just 15 days.
- Relaxed signature requirements. During the national emergency, applicants won’t need to submit “wet” signatures. Instead, they can send electronically reproduced documents with original signatures (i.e. faxed, scanned, photocopied, etc.).
- Extended deadlines for appeals and responses to certain notices. If you receive a Request for Evidence or a Notice of Intent to Deny/Revoke/Terminate between March 1st and May 1st, you have 60 days after the original due date to submit a response or the requested evidence. Similarly, if you receive an appealable decision between March 1st and May 1st, you have an additional 30 days to file the Notice of Appeal or Motion.
- Travel restrictions. Currently, the borders separating the U.S. from Canada and Mexico are closed, and travel to the U.S. from China, Iran, the Schengen Area, the UK, and Ireland is generally prohibited for immigrants and nonimmigrants (not U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents).
The legal landscape is developing as rapidly as the pandemic, but we are committed to providing the most updated information for our clients. If you have specific questions about your case or how the pandemic could affect your future, please get in touch with us immediately.