Updated March 30, 2020 @ 3:21pm

Public health measures including office closures, travel restrictions, and other steps in response to COVID-19 have affected many aspects of immigration legal and administrative proceedings and functions. The list below covers changes as of the time and date of the update stamp above to the following areas:

 


U.S. CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION SERVICES (USCIS) 

  • Field offices:
    •  Applicants and petitioners with scheduled appointments (i.e. I-751 Petitions/Waivers, adjustment, and naturalization interviews) and naturalization ceremonies will receive notices with new appointments.
    • Individuals who had InfoPass or other appointments must reschedule through the USCIS Contact Center (see above). Please check https://www.uscis.gov/about-us/find-uscis-office/field-offices to verify that the relevant Field Office has reopened before contacting the USCIS Contact Center.
    • Field offices in the SF Bay Area closed at least until 04/07/2020 due to Shelter-in-Place orders: San Jose and San Francisco.
    • Local guidance issued on 03/17/2020: Requests for Evidences that are due during the closure for the San Francisco or San Jose Field Offices will have a one-month extension.
  • Asylum offices:
    • Asylum interviews will be automatically rescheduled.
    • Asylum applicants will receive 1) a cancellation notice of the affected interview appointment and 2) a new interview notice with the new time, date and location for the interview.
    • Asylum Office Locator: https://egov.uscis.gov/office-locator/#/asy
    • Asylum office in the SF Bay Area closed at least until 04/07/2020 due to a Shelter-in-Place order: San Francisco.
  • Application Support Centers:
    •  Closed until further notice.
    • USCIS will automatically reschedule ASC appointments (i.e. biometric appointments) and send out new appointment letters in the mail once it resumes normal operations.
    • ASCs in California closed at least until 04/07/2020 due to the Shelter-In-Place orders: Oakland, San Jose, Santa Rosa, San Francisco, and Salinas.
  • Link to USCIS Office Closures: https://www.uscis.gov/about-us/uscis-office-closings
  • Case processing Times: https://egov.uscis.gov/processing-times/  
  • Case Status: https://egov.uscis.gov/casestatus/landing.do
  • USCIS Forms & Instructions: USCIS forms and instructions are available at https://www.uscis.gov/forms and on Lawyaw under “Federal Forms.” If you use Lawyaw, make sure that you are using a version that is accepted by USCIS. Look at the edition date of the form and verify the acceptable edition dates for that form on USCIS’ website.
  • Flexibility around “wet” signatures on USCIS forms during the COVID-19 National Emergency:
    • https://www.uscis.gov/news/alerts/uscis-announces-flexibility-submitting-required-signatures-during-covid-19-national-emergency
    • USCIS will accept all benefit forms and documents with electronically reproduced original signatures for submissions dated March 21, 2020, and throughout the duration of the National Emergency, even for forms that normally require an original “wet” signature per their form instructions.
    • Electronically reproduced original signatures: 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. 
    • Individuals or entities that submit documents bearing an electronically reproduced original signature must also retain copies of the original documents containing the “wet” signature.  USCIS may, at any time, request the original documents, which if not produced, could negatively impact the adjudication of the immigration benefit.
  • Extensions to Responding to Certain USCIS Requests:
    • https://www.uscis.gov/about-us/uscis-response-coronavirus-2019-covid-19.
    •  For applicants and petitioners who  receive a Request for Evidence (RFE), Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID), Notice of Intent to Revoke (NOIR), Notice of Intent to Terminate (NOIT) or appealable decision within AAO jurisdiction and the issuance date listed on the request, notice or decision is between March 1, 2020 and May 1, 2020, inclusive.
    • Any response to an RFE, NOID, NOIR, or NOIT received within 60 calendar days after the response due date set in the request or notice will be considered by USCIS before any action is taken. Any Form I-290B received up to 60 calendar days from the date of the decision will be considered by USCIS before it takes any action.
  • Reuse of Biometrics for Processing of Pending I-765 applications for extensions of Employment Authorization Documents
    • Applicants who had an appointment scheduled with an ASC on or after the March 18 closure or who filed an I-765 extension will have their application processed using previously submitted biometrics.  This will remain in effect until ASCs resume normal operations.
  • Additional Alert on Public Charge:

 


IMMIGRATION COURTS – EXECUTIVE OFFICE OF IMMIGRATION REVIEW (EOIR):

  • For updated information on court closures, restrictions on hearings, and filing information, see https://www.justice.gov/eoir/eoir-operational-status-during-coronavirus-pandemic.
  • As of 3/27/2020, most immigration courts are still open but some with restrictions on filings/and types of hearings heard. San Francisco remains open with limited functions (see below).
    • Immigration Courts in San Francisco:  Remain open but with limited functions:
      • Hearings for detained individuals are going forward at 630 Sansome Street.
        • 2 Immigration Judges have standing orders that allow parties and their counsels to request to appear by telephone via the filing of a motion.
      • Montgomery Street location is closed. 
      • Filings allowed at Sansome Street location. 
      • All Hearings for non-detained individuals are being automatically continued through April 10. Written notices of new hearings will be mailed out.
      • Case status and hearing date information in EOIR’s automated case information application at https://portal.eoir.justice.gov/InfoSystem/Form?Language=EN and hotline at 1-800-898-7180 may not be updated for those cases postponed due to operational changes during the coronavirus pandemic. Abide by the written notices with new hearing dates sent in the mail.
      • To report changes in contact information – address/phone number since last immigration court hearing:
        • Complete form EOIR-33 available at https://www.justice.gov/eoir/file/639921/download .
        • Make three copies. Send one copy to the court at 100 Montgomery Street, Suite 800, San Francisco, CA 94104. Send one copy to DHS at 100 Montgomery Street, Suite 200, San Francisco, CA 94104. Keep a copy for your records.
      • To get updates, follow @DOJ_EOIR on Twitter.

 


IMMIGRATION AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT (ICE):

  • https://www.ice.gov/covid19 (English)
  • https://www.ice.gov/es/guia-de-ice-sobre-el-covid-19 (Spanish).
  • Enforcement Actions from March 18, 2020 and until further notice:
    • Enforcement actions will focus on those individuals who pose a public safety risk and are “subject to mandatory detention based on criminal grounds.”
    • For other individuals, ERO will exercise discretion to delay enforcement actions until after the crisis or use alternatives to detention. 
    • Consistent with its sensitive locations policy, during the COVID-19 crisis, ICE will not carry out enforcement operations at or near health care facilities, such as hospitals, doctors’ offices, accredited health clinics, and emergent or urgent care facilities, except in the most extraordinary of circumstances. 
    • Individuals should not avoid seeking medical care because they fear civil immigration enforcement.
  • Homeland Security Investigations (HSI): 
    • HSI will continue to carry out mission critical criminal investigations and enforcement operations as determined necessary to maintain public safety and national security, including investigations into child exploitation, gangs, narcotics trafficking, human trafficking, human smuggling, and continued participation on the Joint Terrorism Task Force. 
    • See also https://www.ice.gov/hsi
  • General Information on Stays of Removal:
    • ICE will temporarily permit the filing of Form I-246, “Application for Stay of Deportation or Removal” through the mail accompanied by money orders, certified, funds, or requests for fee waivers of only.
    • See https://www.ice.gov/forms for latest version of Form I-246.
  • General Information on ICE Check-ins:
    • Immigrants released from the Southwest Border will now be scheduled for initial reporting to a local field office 60 days after release (rather than 30 days or less).
    • Individuals should contact their local office for additional guidance prior to their scheduled appointment.
  • General Information on Bonds:
    • ICE will limit the acceptance of bonds to locations with “bond windows” or other barriers to limit exposure to staff.
    • Generally, only the individual appearing to post the bonds will be permitted to enter the office. Anyone accompanying such individuals, including children accompanied by another adult, will be asked by security not to enter the building.
  • General information on Detention:
    • ICE has temporarily suspended social visitation in all of its detention facilities. 
    • ICE will take steps to facilitate communication with families, in the absence of visitation, through extended access to telephones and other reasonable means. 
    • Non-contact legal visitation, to include the Legal Orientation Program, will continue to be permitted. In order to safeguard visitors, detainees, and ICE and facility staff, official visitors may be subject to special screening and procedures. ICE may impose additional requirements, such as mandating that visitors wear protective equipment.
  • ICE Online Inmate Locator (except for people under 18 years of age): https://locator.ice.gov/odls/#/index
  • ICE/ERO San Francisco: 
    • Regarding ICE Office at 600 Sansome Street, San Francisco: As of 03/18/2020:
      • ICE check-ins are being rescheduled. ICE will contact respondents by phone or mail.
      • For bond payments, only the person paying the bond will be admitted in the building. Advocates recommend that a U.S. Citizen pay the bond.
    • Regarding participants in the Intensive Supervision Appearance Program (ISAP): As of 03/18/2020:
      • All ISAP in person check-ins are cancelled until further notice.
      • ISAP check-ins will be done telephonically so Participants must be available by phone.
      • Participants will be called by their case specialist to inform them to start reporting back to ISAP as normally scheduled.
    • SF ICE Contact Information: For questions or to report changes in contact information including address and telephone number, contact ICE via email at SanFrancisco.Outreach@ice.dhs.gov or via phone at (415)844-5512
    • ICE Enforcement Actions in the San Francisco Bay Area: Still happening but limited as per national guidance (see above). People deemed a public risk includes people with criminal convictions, which encompass most felonies, violent crimes, theft-related crimes, firearms offenses, and even minor drug related convictions. Enforcement actions are not supposed to happen at medical sites except for extraordinary circumstances.

 


RESPONDING TO ICE ENFORCEMENT ACTIONS:

  Rapid Response Networks to report suspected ICE activity:

Network & Geographical Area Phone Number
ACILEP (Alameda) (510)241-4011
Stand Together Contra Costa (925)900-5151
San Francisco Rapid Response Network (415)200-1548
Santa Clara Rapid Response Network (707)800-4544
Marin Rapid Response Network (415)991-4545
North Bay Rapid Response Network (Sonoma & Napa) (707)800-4544
San Mateo Rapid Response Network (203)666-4472

 

    • All individuals have rights under the U.S. Constitution, regardless of immigration status.
    • ICE may be aggressive; friendly; pretend to be local law enforcement.
    • Do not carry a passport or consular card without a valid visa.
    • In deportation proceedings, ICE must prove that you’re not from the U.S.A. & which country you’re from. Don’t give them that information.
    • If you have a valid work permit or green card, carry it.
    • Carry a red card (link above).
    • Do not carry any false ID or immigration documents.
    • Avoid criminal conduct or, if possible, being present where criminal conduct is taking place.
    • At home:
      • Do not open the door. ICE needs a warrant signed by a federal judge (rare).
      • Show red card under the door or by window. Do not open the window or door.
      • Call Rapid Response Network (or if represented by BayLegal Attorney, BayLegal Attorney – latter should call Rapid Response Network).
    • On the street:
      • Ask politely if you are free to leave.
      • You have the right to remain silent & should not answer any questions.
      • You must *say* that you wish to remain silent until you speak with a lawyer.
      • Refuse to sign anything before you talk to a lawyer. Because this could result in your immediate removal without a hearing.

 


 

IMPACT OF COURT CLOSURES FOR SPECIAL IMMIGRANT JUVENILES STATUS (SIJS) FINDINGS:

Check BayLegal’s web page on court and administrative office closures, or visit the relevant Superior Court’s website.

 


OFFICE OF REFUGEE RESETTLEMENT (ORR):

 


 

STUDENT AND EXCHANGE VISITOR PROGRAM (SEVP):

 


TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS:

    • January 31: Presidential proclamation signed suspending entry into the USA of foreign nationals who were physically present in the People’s Republic of China, excluding the Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macau, within the 14 days preceding entry or attempted entry into the USA, effective February 2nd, 2020. 
    • February 29: Presidential proclamation signed suspending entry into the USA of aliens who were physically present in Iran within the 14 days preceding entry or attempted entry into the USA, effective March 2nd, 2020. 
    • March 11: Presidential proclamation signed suspending entry into the USA of foreign nationals who were physically present in Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and/or  Switzerland, within the 14 days preceding their entry or attempted entry into the USA, effective March 13, 2020.
    • March 14: Presidential proclamation signed that restricts travel to the USA of foreign nationals who were physically present in the United Kingdom and Ireland within the 14 days preceding their entry or attempted entry into the USA, effective March 16, 2020.
    • U.S. citizens are not subject to the proclamations.
    • Exceptions exist for lawful permanent residents. Additional exceptions exist including, but not limited to: foreign diplomats traveling to the USA on A or G visas and certain family members of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents including; spouses, children (under the age of 21), parents (provided that his/her U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident child is unmarried and under the age of 21), and siblings (provided that both the sibling and the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident are unmarried and under the age of 21), and air and sea crew traveling to the USA on C, D or C1/D visas.  For the full list of exceptions please refer to the proclamations.
  • Additional Travel Restrictions For Mexico and Canada:
  • Country Specific Conditions for Consular Services:
  • Refugee Admissions Paused:

 


OTHER RESOURCES: