USCIS Waiving Green Cards Interviews During COVID-19

Posted by Frank Gogol

On the 18th of March, USCIS closed all of its offices from person-to-person contact in an attempt to reduce the spread of the new coronavirus. This suspension of these services involved the complete canceling of applicant interviews that were scheduled previously.

That being said, unofficially, there has been word that USCIS has begun waiving face-to-face interviews in particular cases. But how much do we actually know about that in this circumstance, and how much can we trust in the information we have? We’ll find out, shortly.

Why Was USCIS Closed?

As we all know, the Coronavirus pandemic is spreading like wildfire throughout the world and more and more countries are entering a state of emergency where face-to-face contact is limited as much as possible. USCIS does provide emergency aid for visa holders affected by the pandemic, but unless it is something with great urgency, the matter will be postponed.

To keep things flowing and to come to the aid of those that need to resolve their visa, USCIS still allows them to send the files via the online medium. For the rest of the cases, all interviews were set to be rescheduled when the offices open.

When Will USCIS Reopen?

USCIS has announced that they will reopen their offices either on or after the 4th of June unless there are any public closures that extend any further than that. It all depends on how the coronavirus situation evolves, and exactly how safe it will be for the offices to open at that point. If you want to schedule an appointment, you might want to call the USCIS contact center – but all of it will be set in motion after June 4.

Employment-Based Green Card Interviews

In light of this pandemic, we are now left to wonder: what is the actual truth in regard to this? What can we actually expect? Does the official USCIS green card policy say anything about how green cards are supposed to be handled during the COVID-19 situation? So many questions at this point – but yet, there is no actual data that we can actually trust. But what do we know?

What Is the “Official” USCIS Policy on Green Card Interviews?

Officially speaking, the USCIS policy has remained unchanged on the website. Looking closer, you may see that the website states the domestic field offices of USCIS will come to the aid of applicants that have had scheduled interviews – but were impacted by the fact that the USCIS offices were closed. As a result, USCIS claimed that every interview will be rescheduled for the dates following the opening of the offices.

That being said, a petitioner or an applicant that has an InfoPass appointment at the field office will have to schedule their appointments once more – again, for when the offices open in June.

Are Employment-Based Green Card Interviews Being Waived?

An important mention would be that there aren’t any official statements or policy changes in regard to the requirements for the first-person interviews. Technically speaking, every interview is to be rescheduled until after USCIS opens the doors to their offices.

However, there have been several anecdotal cases that imply a rather different story. AILA has begun receiving reports that occasionally, USCIS is waiving in-person interviews for people looking for an adjustment of status. These cases seem mostly to be tied to family and employment-based green cards.

Moreover, more and more employment-based visa applicants have found that instead of being rescheduled, their interviews are being waived. Without requiring the interview, their status changes into “Approved” – and the green card will follow in the mail shortly thereafter. Quite a few marriage-based applications have experienced the same thing – but at the same time, it is less likely to occur in marriages. These interviews are necessary to determine whether a marriage is fraudulent or not.

Once more, it is important to mention that USCIS has not given any official statement in regard to this matter. If your interview has been canceled during the pandemic, you should not expect them to waive it – turning it into some kind of blanket policy. Sometimes, it may happen – and sometimes, it may not.

We can only assume that by waiving the interviews of certain visa holders, USCIS is trying to avoid an impossible interview backlog once the offices reopen. For safety purposes, the distance will still have to be maintained. This is why it is worth checking your visa status now and again, to see if there have been any changes and whether your interview has been waived or not.

How to Check Your Green Card Application Status

There are several ways for you to check the status of your case online, but also offline – and these methods include telephone, email, direct mail – and when it will become available, in-person at the processing. Bear in mind that depending on the method that you use, you might have to wait different time lengths to get an update.

However, you should know how to check your status online. Doing that is relatively simple – and it may only be a bit tedious if the case has been open for months – even years. If you want to check the current status of your green card, here is how you may do it.

The Steps to Checking your USCIS Case Status

USCIS has given people the option of checking their case status online for most applications that you might need. All you are required to do is to add the 13-digit receipt number that you have been given. You may check it every day to see if there are any updates on your case.

  • Go to the case status page that USCIS provided
  • Write in the 13-digit number found on the receipt
  • Press the “check status” button

Yes, it is as simple as that to check your case status. Once you click the button, the page will be automatically refreshed, and then you should be able to see what the current status of your case is.

Additional Information

Certain people should be able to check their visa status, as long as they have made an application. That being said, as long as you have submitted your request, USCI also provides case tracking for the following applications:

  • Form I-140
  • Form I-485
  • Form I-750
  • Adjustment of Status (AoS)
  • Advance Parole
  • Employment Authorization Documents (EAD)
  • Citizenship

Plus, you may check for H1B applications and green card applications on the USCIS website. During the time length of the pandemic, you should be able to keep updated on your status – allowing you to know what step to take once the USCIS offices. You may also try alternate methods to check your status, but in most cases, it might take more time to find out the answer than it would if you just checked online.

Final Thoughts

USCIS does seem to be waiving some of the interviews during the COVID-19 pandemic – but we cannot say for certain that this will happen to every green card applicant. Their purpose is likely to reduce the flow of people coming into the offices once they reopen, which is why they are approving visa applications they believe to already be true – even without the interview.

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