August 2020

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)

USCIS Extends 60-Day Period for Responses Due: The due date for responses to all USCIS requests for evidence (RFEs) and Notices of Intent to Deny (NOIDs) dated before September 2 is automatically extended 60 days.

USCIS Offices Reopened for Most Nonemergency Services: USCIS reopened for nonemergency services as of June 4, 2020, and have remained open. Applications service centers also have reopened. USCIS has continued to implement precautions to mitigate the risk associated with attending appointments for in person services.

Asylum Offices: With the exception of the Newark, N.J., asylum office, all asylum offices that reopened in June have remained open. Interviews scheduled during temporary closures will be automatically rescheduled. Asylum offices continue to conduct video-facilitated interviews, where the applicants sit in one room and the interviewer in another room. Asylum offices will use available technology, including mobile devices provided by the agency, to ensure that the officer, applicant, interpreter, and representative can fully and safely participate in the interview while maintaining social distancing.

Backlogged Naturalization Ceremonies Have Now Been Completed: USCIS announced on July 29, that USCIS completed all pending naturalization oath ceremonies that were put on hold because of the pandemic.


ICE and Interior Enforcement

According to its website, ICE will continue to only prioritize cases that are public-safety risks and those involving individuals who are subject to mandatory detention based on criminal grounds. In-person office and home visits have temporarily been suspended; however, telephonic and electronic reporting still remain in use. ICE has continued to promise not to make arrests at or near medical facilities, absent extraordinary circumstances. Social visitation remains suspended at ICE detention facilities. According to an International Rescue Committee report, over 20 percent of ICE detainees have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, and despite the unsanitary conditions in detention, ICE continues to detain tens of thousands of individuals and also has carried out over 450 deportation flights in 2020.

DHS announced that it has extended the flexibilities in rules related to Form I-9 compliance during the COVID-19 pandemic for an additional 30 days. The accommodations now expire on 9/19/20.


CBP and Border Enforcement

Unauthorized border crossings along the U.S. border with Mexico have steadily increased the past few months, as there were 38,347 apprehensions in July as opposed 16,162 in April. The apprehensions were primarily single adults, as opposed to family units and single children, who made up about 10 percent of the apprehensions in July. The total of apprehensions is still a significant decrease from 2019, where there were nearly double the amount of apprehensions and the majority of those crossing were family units and unaccompanied alien children.


Department of State and U.S. Embassies Abroad

On July 14, DOS announced a phased resumption of routine visa services on a post-by-post basis. Applicants with urgent matters that need to travel immediately are advised to request an emergency appointment and to follow guidance of the nearest embassy. All embassies continue to provide emergency and mission-critical services.


Department of Justice and the Immigration Courts

Many immigration courts and the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) have reopened for nondetained hearings. All courts continue to accept notices of appeal, briefs, and motions. Almost all courts continue to hear detained hearings. The operation status of all immigration courts can be found on EOIR's special COVID-19 Web page.


Department of Labor

The DOL's Office of Foreign Labor Certification (OFLC) confirmed in July that the PERM Notice of Filing (NOF) requirement is flexible, and employers can satisfy this regulatory requirement by posting the notice for 10 consecutive business days at the worksite. While there are currently countless different work-from-home and office-closure scenarios, OFLC confirmed that employers could even satisfy the NOF requirement for PERM by posting the NOF "on the exterior door of its building, office, or front entry" even if the work place is 100% closed and employees are 100% remote, so long as the business is operational (i.e., conducting business). While this may not be practicable for employers located in large office buildings, this is what DOL calls "flexible." Go figure.