US

Mar 30 2020

USCIS Announces Additional COVID-19 Accommodations: Expanding List of Response Types Eligible for Extensions, and Using Previously Submitted Biometrics for EAD Extensions

United States

At a glance

  • In light of the COVID emergency, petitioners and applicants will have an additional 60 days to respond to notices of intent to revoke and notices of intent to terminate EB-5 regional investment centers dated between March 1 and May 1, 2020, USCIS has announced. Employers and foreign nationals will also have 60, rather than 30, days to file any appeal or motion to reopen a USCIS decision that was issued between March 1 and May 1.
  • Where a foreign national is seeking an extension of their Employment Authorization Document, USCIS will use previously submitted biometrics to process the application, given the temporary closure of USCIS Application Support Centers that normally collect biometrics.
  • To date, USCIS has not made any accommodations for foreign nationals with expiring periods of stay or employment authorization documents; as such, applications for extensions and renewals must be timely filed.

The issue

In a continued effort to avoid negative immigration consequences stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, USCIS is expanding its extension of response deadlines to also include notices of intent to revoke, notices of intent to terminate EB-5 regional investment centers, and motions to appeal or reopen adverse USCIS decisions. The announcement follows a similar USCIS decision last week to extend response deadlines by 60 days for requests for evidence (RFEs) and notices of intent to deny (NOIDs) issued between March 1 and May 1, 2020.

Relatedly, USCIS has announced that in response to its temporary public closure of USCIS Application Support Centers (ASCs), it will begin reusing biometrics already on file for foreign nationals seeking to extend their Form I-766 employment authorization documents, rather than rescheduling their cancelled biometrics appointments.

Details about the accommodations

  • Deadline Extensions: USCIS is extending a 60-day extension to notices of intent to revoke (NOIRs) and notices of intent to terminate regional investment centers (NOITs) dated between March 1 and May 1, 2020.  For NOIRs and NOITs received during that period, petitioners and applicants will receive an additional 60 calendar days beyond the original NOID/NOIT response deadline to file a response with USCIS.  Also, for adverse USCIS decisions received between March 1 and May 1, USICS is granting 60 days (as opposed to 30 days, in most cases under current rules) in order to file a Form I-290B appeal or motion to reopen the case.
  • Reuse of Previously Collected Biometrics for EAD Renewals: USCIS will not require applicants seeking to extend their I-765, Application for Employment Authorization to appear for biometrics if they had been scheduled to appear for biometrics at an Application Support Center (ASC) on or after March 18, 2020, or have a pending EAD extension with no appointment scheduled.  Given the temporary closure of ASCs during the COVID-19 pandemic, USCIS will instead rely on previously submitted biometrics to process I-765 extensions. This accommodation will remain in effect until ASCs resume normal operations.

 

The latest accommodations do not affect the timelines for submitting applications for extensions of stay or employment authorization. These applications must continue to be timely filed, unless and until the agency provides interim relief.

What this means for employers and foreign nationals

The extended deadlines are expected to alleviate the pressure on employers and foreign nationals to respond to or file appeals with USCIS as U.S. businesses temporarily close and move their workforce to remote locations. The biometrics waiver is intended to alleviate concerns from foreign nationals and their employers that Employment Authorization extensions would be delayed due to ASC closures. These accommodations come after extensive advocacy efforts by Fragomen and other stakeholder groups.    

This alert is for informational purposes only. If you have any questions, please contact the immigration professional with whom you work at Fragomen.