USCIS Extends Certain COVID-19 Flexibilities

COVID-19 Flexibilities
February 01, 2023

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that some COVID-19 flexibilities will receive extensions through March 23, 2023. By extending these flexibilities, the USCIS hopes to address the delays caused by the continuing backlogs.

While in effect, the flexibilities will allow the USCIS to consider responses received within 60 days after the due date of various requests or notices before taking action. However, the flexibilities will address the requests or notices issued between March 1, 2020, and March 23, 2023. Examples include the following:

  • “Requests for Evidence;
  • Continuations to Request Evidence (N-14);
  • Notices of Intent to Deny;
  • Notices of Intent to Revoke;
  • Notices of Intent to Rescind;
  • Notices of Intent to Terminate regional centers;
  • Notices of Intent to Withdraw Temporary Protected Status; and
  • Motions to Reopen an N-400 Pursuant to 8 CFR 335.5, Receipt of Derogatory Information After Grant.

In addition, the USCIS will consider a Notice of Appeal or Motion (Form I-290B) or a Request for a Hearing on a Naturalization Decision (Form N-336) under Section 336 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) if:

  • Filing a form up to 90 calendar days from the issuance of a made decision; and
  • The USCIS made that decision inclusive of November 1, 2021, and March 23, 2023.”

Unless more changes occur due to the pandemic, the USCIS expects this extension to be the last of these accommodations. As such, individuals making requests must comply with the requirements stated in any notices or requests dated after March 23, 2023. In addition, they must abide by the permanent flexibilities provided in cases of unforeseen circumstances.

Though first announced in March 2020, the reproduced signature policy became a permanent option on July 25, 2022. As a result, companies can use scanned, faxed, photocopied, or similarly reproduced documents as long as they use a copy made from the original paper with an original handwritten signature.

People who submit documents with an electronically reproduced original signature must keep the records with the wet signature. This requirement ensures that the agency can request and receive the original paperwork at any time. However, failure to provide the original could negatively affect the case adjudication.

The USCIS stated that it would engage stakeholders to ensure suitable flexibilities and accommodations should unforeseen circumstances arise. It will also monitor any effects of the pandemic.

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