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There have been many changes, suspensions, and extensions at the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The USCIS has had to close its physical offices to implement social distancing, and, as a result, the USCIS now has quite a hefty backlog in its processing. The extensions and delays aren’t only applicable to the USCIS, though.
The USCIS understands the coronavirus pandemic has resulted in many limitations on petitioners. To provide flexibility and leniency to accommodate petitioners subject to these restrictions, it has granted extensions to specified deadlines. This is now known as the 60-day grace period. Let’s take a look at what this 60-day grace period could mean for you.
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The coronavirus pandemic has completely changed the day to day operations of individuals and businesses. The USCIS understands there are certain limitations and inabilities caused by the current coronavirus restrictions. To minimize the immigration consequences for those seeking immigration benefits during the pandemic, the USCIS is offering a 60-day grace period for responding on certain notices. What does this mean, exactly?
If you receive any of the notices listed below between March 1, 2020, and July 1, 2020, the deadline for filing a response to the notice will be extended by 60 calendar days. The notice or request usually lists a response due date by when you must submit your reply to the USCIS. With the 60-day grace period, the USCIS will still accept a response within 60 calendar days after this response due date.
For example, if your notice states the response due date as April 30, 2020, the 60-day grace period means you actually have until June 30, 2020, to respond to the notice or request. This gives you some extra flexibility if you’re not able to respond to the notice or request in time as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and its resultant restrictions.
The 60-day grace period offered by the USCIS applies to the following notices:
Notices of Intent to Deny (NOID) is a notice sent by the USCIS to inform you they intend to deny your application, petition, or request. If they issue this notice, they are giving you 30 days to provide a response. With the current 60-day grace period, you will have 90 days to respond. An example of when the USCIS could issue a NOID is if you submit an I-130 Petition for Alien Relative, but it seems you aren’t legally divorced from your previous spouse.
A Request for Evidence (RFE) will be issued if the USCIS officer adjudicating your case believes there isn’t enough evidence to approve your petition, but they think there is a chance you can redeem it. By issuing the RFE, they are giving you a chance to provide additional evidence or clear up any inconsistencies in your application. The usual timeframes to respond to an RFE is between 30 and 90 days.
A Notices of Intent to Revoke (NOIR) is usually issued about a previously approved petition. The purpose of the notice is to tell the petitioner that the USCIS intends to revoke the petition. The NOIR will also contain reasons for the possible revocation. A NOIR is commonly issued after the USCIS has approved an I-130 petition and has forwarded it to the U.S. Department of State for further processing. A consular officer interviews the beneficiary before issuing the visa. It often happens that the beneficiary may tell the officer something that makes it appear that the petition should be revoked. With a NOIR, you usually have 30 days to respond.
The 60-day grace period also applies to Notices of Intent to Rescind and Notices of Intent to Terminate regional investment centers, Continuations to Request Evidence (N-14), and filing date requirements for Form I-290, Notice of Appeal or Motion.
The following visa applications will be affected in the following categories by this 60-day grace period.
|Visas and Petitions||Type of Notice to which the 60-day grace period will apply|
|H1-B, L1-A, L1-B, H4 EAD visa holders, Family-based Green Card petitioners||Request for Evidence|
|Visa petitions, work permits, adjustment of status applicants||Notice of Intention to Deny|
|Immigrant and non-immigrant visa petitioners||Notice of Intention to Revoke|
|Petitioners Applying for US Naturalizations||Continuations to Request Evidence (N-14)|
|EB-5 applicants and H4 EAD workers||Notices of Intent to Rescind and Notices of Intent to Terminate regional investment centers|
|Applicants of Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker and F1, student visa holders||Filing date requirements for Form I-290B, Notice of Appeal or Motion|
Just because the USCIS is offering the 60-day grace period doesn’t mean this extension should be abused. You should still do your best to respond to the notice or request promptly. Remember, the sooner you respond, the faster your case will be adjudicated, and the sooner you will know what your future in the U.S. holds!
Also, there might be other deadlines that supersede the grace period offered by the USCIS. You and your legal expert must still review the notice and the fine print to make sure of the exact deadline applicable to the notice. You wouldn’t want to unnecessarily miss an important deadline and forfeit your chances of getting the visa of your dreams.
Remember, your I-94 and certain work visas can still expire before the extended deadline. You must be ready and know what to do if this might be you. Consult an immigration attorney if you’re not sure what to do and might be caught in a difficult situation.
Finally, keep in mind the 60-day grace period mustn’t be unnecessarily exploited. The purpose of the extension of deadlines is to assist where applicants experience the inabilities to respond due to the coronavirus restrictions. You must still be prepared to explain the reason for your delay in responding if you are asked.
Among all the other stresses caused by the coronavirus pandemic and applying for a visa, not being able to respond to a notice in time doesn’t have to be one of them. If you aren’t able to meet the deadline listed on your notice, check whether the 60-day grace period might apply. The additional time might be just what you need to make sure your visa petition is a success!
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