Published March 19, 2020
By: Richard Hanus, Esq.
The last few weeks have been a whirlwind, even a hailstorm, of information, misinformation, panic and confusion. On the most basic level, the lack of definite information about the extent of the coronavirus in general has been alarming. Of course there was and is so much we do not and could not know. On the other hand, the amount of knowable, concrete information that was not disseminated or acted upon when this crisis started to unfold was far from insignificant. Consistent with this state of affairs, the manner with which our federal government has managed immigration related functions and public interactions has left much to be desired, especially with regard to the immigration courts and the administration of removal/deportation proceedings. But better late than never – and finally, within the past 24 hours, it seems common sense has caught up with leadership decision-making and the system has by and large been shut down as far as face to face dealings with the public are concerned.
Below are immigration related government office closings or modifications:
U.S. Department of Homeland Security – Citizenship and Immigration Service local offices:
The following scheduled, face to face interactions at DHS/CIS offices across the nation have been cancelled through at least until April 1, 2020:
Appointments for biometric fingerprinting at DHS/CIS Application Support Centers have also been cancelled.
Citizenship oath ceremonies at local DHS/CIS offices and Federal courthouses are, with few exceptions, being cancelled.
In all such cases, DHS/CIS has pledged to send out written cancellation and later, rescheduling notices
U.S. Department of Justice/Executive Office of Immigration Review
(Immigration Court, removal proceedings)
As of March 18, 2020, the Department of Justice finally announced that all non-detained court cases are being postponed at least through April 10, 2020. This cancellation includes both Master Calendar hearings (status) and Individual Calendar hearings (final merits hearings for relief from removal). Court proceedings for detained foreign nationals continue.
U.S. consular posts abroad: With regard to immigrant and temporary visa services at U.S. Embassies and Consulates across the globe, the public is urged to check with each individual post regarding operations and if and how they are curtailed.
DHS/CIS Service Centers which involve no face to face interactions with the public continue to operate. When it comes to filing for most immigration related benefits, such as N-400 for U.S. citizenship/naturalization, or I-130/I-485 for green card processing, the public can continue to submit such filings via regular mail or express delivery services as usual.
Other government facilities:
The State of Illinois’ Secretary of State/Department of Motor Vehicles offices are closed until March 31st. All Drivers Licenses are extended for another 30 days. For more information on this announcement, visit their website:
PUBLISHED March 19, 2020– “IMMIGRATION LAW FORUM” Copyright © 2020, By Law Offices of Richard Hanus, Chicago, Illinois