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Things to Consider when Attending Interviews with USCIS in the wake of COVID-19

The outbreak of the coronavirus has presented several challenges for applicants seeking to enter U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) field offices for interviews. For instance, it has become a norm for USCIS to reschedule interviews if any party physically present at an interview states they have traveled outside the U.S. in the last 14 days. USCIS has also been known to check Customs and Border Protection (CBP) records and automatically reschedule interviews if the applicant has traveled outside the U.S. in the last 14 days. 

In rescheduling an interview, USCIS has reportedly chosen to call the applicant rather than the attorney on record. Thus, applicants should be prepared to receive a last-minute phone call with information about their new interview date. 

Based on a survey conducted by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), USCIS field offices have adopted additional COVID-19 procedures, which include: 

  • People cannot enter the building more than 15 minutes before scheduled interviews, and 30 minutes before oath ceremonies;
  • Applicants and/or attorneys are advised to bring their own pens; 
  • Masks are required; 
  • Masks may not contain exhaust valves and they cannot be in the form of neck gaiters or bandanas;  
  • Some field offices or officers limit attendance to 3 people per interview room; and
  • Some field offices are conducting interviews at InfoPass/InfoMod windows in the waiting rooms, rather than a separate room. 

If the number of people in attendance for an interview exceed the number permitted by the field office, some parties may be asked to wait in the waiting room to be interviewed separately. They could also be placed in a separate room connected by video. 

Protocols may vary depending on the field office and officers. Because of this uncertainty, it is important that applicants remain flexible and prepare for any of the foregoing scenarios. 

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