National Interest Exceptions for Travelers from Europe:  US Department of State Update July 16, 2020

On July 16, 2020 the U.S. Department of State released guidance outlining national interest exceptions to the Presidential Proclamations (PPs) prohibiting the admission  of travelers arriving from the Schengen Area (PP 9993) and the United Kingdom and Ireland (PP 9996).

Who may qualify?

The following travelers may qualify for a national interest exception:

  • Certain business travelers
  • Treaty Traders  and Treaty Investors
  • Academics
  • Students
  • Qualified business and student travelers who are applying for or have valid visas or ESTA authorizations

Notably, students traveling to the U.S.  from the Schengen Area, the UK, and Ireland holding valid F-1 and M-1 visas are not required to seek a national interest exception to travel to the U.S.    In contrast, students who  intend to  travel  to the U.S. on a J-1 visa must initiate an exception request.

The Department of State also continues to consider national interest exceptions for qualified travelers seeking to enter the United States for purposes related to humanitarian travel, public health response, and national security.

“Area” Ban v. “Visa” Ban

The aforementioned exceptions to the “area bans” are only available to travelers from the United  Kingdom, Ireland and the Schengen Area.  The Presidential Proclamations restricting travel to the US based on visa classification (“visa bans”) remain in effect.  An individual could fit within an exemption to an area ban, but still be restricted by the nonimmigrant visa ban nonimmigrant visa ban or the immigrant visa ban immigrant visa ban.

Gibney will continue to monitor how exceptions are processed and the information required to demonstrate eligibility.  Individuals seeking to enter the U.S. or apply for a visa under one of the exceptions are advised to consult with their designated Gibney representative for specific legal advice prior to any travel.


U.S. Visa Bans: State Department Update – July 16, 2020

On July 16, 2020 the U.S. Department of State  issued a press release addressing limited exceptions to June 22, 2020 Presidential Proclamation (P.P. 10052) banning the entry of certain H, L and J visa holders, and the  April 23, 2020 Presidential Proclamation (P.P. 10014) restricting the entry of certain immigrants outside the U.S. seeking to enter as permanent residents. According to the announcement, exemptions may be available for the following:

  • applicants who are subject to aging out of their current immigrant visa classification (e.g. visas for eligible children under 21 years) before the relevant proclamations expire or within two weeks thereafter;
  • certain H and J visa applicants who are traveling to work in support of a critical U.S. foreign policy objective (such as COVID-19 response) and/or traveling at the request of the U.S. government; and
  • spouses and children of certain visa class holders, such as H, J, and L visa holders who are already excepted from, or not subject to, P.P. 10052.

The State Department also indicated that consulates “will continue to issue H, L, and J visas to otherwise qualified derivative applicants who are otherwise currently excepted or where the principal applicant is currently in the United States.”


On June 22, 2020 the Trump Administration issued the Proclamation banning the entry of certain H, L and J visa holders, and extending a prior ban on the admission of individuals entering with immigrant visas. The ban took effect on June 24, 2020 and will remain in place until at least December 31, 2020. The June 22, 2020 Proclamation banning entry of certain nonimmigrant workers  does not apply to the B, E, F, O, P and TN visa categories.

Despite the recently announced exemptions, consulates retain significant discretion in the scheduling of visa appointments, determining who qualifies for an exemption, and the issuance of visas.  Many consulates remain closed or may be available for limited emergency requests only.  Additionally, visa issuance by a consulate or exemption from P.P. 10014 or P.P. 10052 does not mean that an individual  is eligible for entry to the U.S.  The coronavirus-related travel bans generally restricting entry to the U.S. from the European Schengen Areathe United Kingdom and IrelandChinaIran, and Brazil, as well as the land border restrictions at the U.S., Canadian and Mexican borders, remain in place.

For additional information, please contact your designated Gibney representative.

DHS Reverses Restrictions on Foreign Students

On July 14, 2020, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), a division of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), rescinded its July 6, 2020 policy prohibiting F-1 and M-1 students from remaining in the U.S. to participate in online-only educational programs for the Fall 2020 semester. The reversal in policy came in response to  lawsuits  challenging  the restrictions, led by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

In rescinding the restrictions, ICE has reverted to its March guidance issued in connection with the coronavirus pandemic, and has updated its associated  SEVP COVID-19 FAQs.  This guidance permits F-1 and M-1 students to remain in the U.S. while completing courses online.    While ICE could again attempt to advance restrictions in the weeks and months ahead, in the interim:

  • F-1 students are permitted to remain in the U.S. even if enrolled in a full-time course of study that is conducted entirely online
  • Full course load requirements for F-1 students may be waived if a student is unable to take the full course load due to circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Students participating in Optional Practical Training (OPT) and STEM OPT may continue to work from home as long as the employer is able to monitor their work remotely
  • The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) is collaborating with DHS agencies to determine whether students may apply for OPT work authorization from outside the U.S.

Gibney will continue to monitor developments and provide updates as additional guidance is released.  If you have any questions about this alert, please contact your Gibney representative or email

DHS Restricts Online Learning for Foreign Students

On July 6, 2020, the Student and Exchange Visitors Program (SEVP), part of  U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE), published guidance  restricting foreign students in F-1 or M-1 status from participating  in online learning programs for the Fall 2020 semester despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The agency intends to publish a corresponding Temporary Final Rule in the Federal Register. The order reverses SEVP’s prior policy permitting F-1 students to take online courses during the coronavirus pandemic. Harvard University and MIT have sued to block implementation of the order.

Impact of Order on Foreign Students

Foreign students in F-1 or M-1 status will not be permitted to enroll in a full-time course of study that is conducted entirely online for the Fall 2020 semester.

  • Students enrolled at a school that will operate entirely online in the fall will be required to depart the U.S. by the beginning of the school term and attend classes remotely from abroad.   Students attending online classes from abroad may remain active in the school’s SEVIS system. However, this may adversely impact their eligibility for Optional Practical Training (OPT) employment eligibility at the completion of their degree program.
  • U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will deny entry to the U.S. of foreign nationals in F-1 or M-1 status planning to attend schools offering only online classes.
  • The Department of State will not  issue F-1 and M-1 visas at U.S. Consulates and Embassies abroad to students enrolled in schools adopting a full online program.

Foreign students enrolled in schools that will operate with a hybrid model of both in-person and online classes may remain in the U.S. and may take more than three credit hours of classes online provided that the school program is not entirely online and the student receives appropriate certification from the school.  The  student may only take the minimum number of online classes required to make normal progress in their degree program. Guidance as to what constitutes a “minimum number of online classes” has not been provided.

Foreign nationals in F-1 and M-1 status attending schools offering  in-person classes may remain in the U.S. as long as they continue to comply with all current rules and regulations.

The updated guidance does not impact foreign  students in the U.S. who are engaged in OPT/STEM OPT employment.   However, students with curricular practical training (CPT) who are enrolled at universities offering only online courses for Fall 2020 may be adversely impacted.  Students should consult with their Designated School Official (DSO) for more guidance.

Impact on Universities

Universities planning to offer entirely online classes for Fall 2020 must notify SEVP of the operational change by July 15, 2020.

Universities planning to offer a hybrid model of in-person and online classes must notify SEVP by August 1, 2020 and provide  details regarding the program.  Schools  with departments offering varying teaching formats should indicate these when reporting to SEVP.  SEVP will acknowledge receipt of the procedural change documentation but will not proactively notify the school as to whether the procedural change has been approved.

Response to Order

On July 8, 2020, Harvard University and MIT brought suit in federal district court in Boston to block the order. In its statement to the community, Harvard University characterized the order as cruel and reckless, and  a threat to public safety.  The universities seek a temporary restraining order and permanent injunctive relief prohibiting ICE from enforcing the order, and a declaration that the policy is unlawful under the Administrative Procedures Act.

Gibney will continue to monitor developments and provide updates.  If you have any questions about this alert, please contact your Gibney representative or email

Updated EEOC Guidance on Covid-19, the ADA and Other EEO Laws: What Employers Need to Know

The United States Equal Employment Opportunity commission (EEOC) updated its Technical Assistance Questions and Answers about COVID-19, the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) and other EEO laws on Thursday June 11 and again on Wednesday June 17, 2020.

The latest EEOC updates focus on a number of important subjects for employers including COVID-19 testing, responding to various requests for accommodations, offering flexible working arrangements, and steps to take to avoid discrimination claims based on age, sex and pregnancy in the context of reopening the employer’s business.

Employers May Not Require Employees to Undergo Antibody Testing

In light of CDC’s guidance that antibody test results should not be used to make decisions about returning persons to the workplace, the EEOC advised employers that an antibody test does not meet the ADA’s standard for medical examinations or inquiries for current employees. Therefore, requiring antibody testing before allowing employees to re-enter the workplace is prohibited under the ADA. Importantly, this change only applies to antibody testing and not testing for presence of the actual virus which is still allowed under certain circumstances.

The EEOC also stated that an employee entering the worksite and requesting an alternative method of screening due to a medical condition is making a request for reasonable accommodation under the ADA or Rehabilitation Act. Thus, if the requested screening alternative is easy to provide and inexpensive, the employer may choose to make it available. If the employee’s disability is not obvious or already known by the employer, the employer may ask the employee for information to establish that the condition is a disability and, if necessary, may request medical documentation of the disability and needed accommodation.

The ADA Does Not Require Employers to Consider Employee Requests for Accommodation to Avoid Exposure to Family Member with Disability

Significantly, the new EEOC guidance clearly states that while employers must make reasonable accommodations to employees with respect to the employee’s disabilities, the ADA does not require any accommodation in order to avoid exposing a family member who is at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19. The EEOC clarified that while the ADA does not require employers to accommodate employees based on the disability-related needs of a non-employee with whom the employee is associated, employers are free to provide flexibilities, but should be careful not to engage in disparate treatment on a protected EEO basis when providing additional flexibilities beyond what the law requires.

Employers May Not Involuntarily Exclude Older Workers and Pregnant Workers from the Workplace

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) prohibits an employer from involuntarily excluding an individual from the workplace based on his or her being 65 or older, even if the employer acts for reasons such as protecting the employee due to higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19. While the ADEA does not include a right to reasonable accommodation for older workers due to age, employers are free to provide flexibility to workers age 65 and older even if it results in younger workers ages 40-64 being treated less favorably based on age in comparison. The EEOC noted that workers age 65 and older also may have medical conditions that bring them under the protection of the ADA, and as such may request reasonable accommodation for their disability as opposed to their age.

Similarly, the EEOC advised employers that they may not exclude an employee from the workplace involuntarily due to pregnancy. Even if motivated by benevolent concern due to the pandemic, an employer is not permitted to single out employees on the basis of pregnancy for adverse employment actions including involuntary leave, layoff, or furlough.

However, federal employment discrimination laws may trigger accommodation for employees based on pregnancy. Even though pregnancy itself is not an ADA disability, pregnancy-related medical conditions may themselves be disabilities under the ADA. Employers must consider requests for reasonable accommodation due to pregnancy-related medical conditions under the usual ADA rules. The EEOC reminded employers that Title VII requires that women affected by pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions be treated the same as others who are similar in their ability or inability or work. Thus, a pregnant employee may be entitled to job modifications, including telework, changes to work schedules or assignments, and leave to the extent provided for other employees who are similar in their ability or inability to work.

Employers May Invite Employees to Request Flexibility in Work Arrangements in Advance of Employees Returning to Work

Employers are permitted to make information available in advance to all employees about who to contact to request accommodation for a disability that they may need upon return to the workplace, even if no date has been announced for their return. An employer may choose to include in such a notice all the CDC-listed medical conditions that may place people at higher risk of serious illness if they contract COVID-19, and explain that the employer is willing to consider on a case-by-case basis any requests from employees who have these or other medical conditions. If requests are received in advance, the employer may begin a discussion with the employee focused on whether the impairment is a disability and the reasons that an accommodation is needed.

An employer also may send a general notice to all employees who are designated for returning to the workplace, noting that the employer is willing to consider requests for accommodation or flexibilities on an individualized basis. Regardless of the approach, employers should ensure that whoever receives inquiries knows how to handle them consistent with the different federal employment nondiscrimination laws that may apply.

Employers May Not Treat Employees Differently Based on Sex or other Protected Characteristics When Offering Flexible Working Arrangements

The EEOC reminded employers that provide telework, modified schedules, or other benefits to employees with school-age children due to school closures or distance learning during the pandemic that they may not treat employees differently based on sex or other EEO-protected characteristics. The EEOC provided as an example that female employees cannot be given more favorable treatment than male employees because of a gender-based assumption about who may have caretaking responsibilities for children.

Employers Should be Watchful for Anti-Asian Discrimination and Harassment in the Workplace During the Pandemic, Including Through Electronic Means While Teleworking

Managers should be alert to demeaning, derogatory, or hostile remarks directed to employees who are or are perceived to be of Asian national origin, including remarks about the coronavirus or its origins. Management should understand that harassment may occur using electronic communication tools – regardless of whether employees are in the workplace, teleworking, or on leave – and also in person between employees at the worksite. An employer that learns that an employee who is teleworking is sending harassing emails to another worker should take the same actions it would take if the employee was in the workplace. Employers may choose to send a reminder to the entire workforce noting prohibition on harassment, reminding employees that harassment will result in disciplinary action, and inviting anyone who experiences or witnesses workplace harassment to report it to management.

As legal developments related to COVID-19 are evolving rapidly on the federal, state, and local level, employers are encouraged to keep aware of additional guidance and regulations that will be issued by federal and state departments in the coming days. As always, we encourage employers to consult with counsel with their specific questions and concerns related to COVID-19.

U.S.–Canada–Mexico Border Travel Restrictions Extended

UPDATE – On June 16, 2020, the Department of Homeland Security again extended the suspension of entry of  certain persons traveling  to the U.S. from Canada and Mexico through land ports of entry. The travel restriction is extended 30 days, and will remain in place through July 21, 2020.  The United States previously reached mutual agreements with Canada and Mexico to limit non-essential travel at land Ports of Entry and ferry terminals to reduce the spread of COVID-19. The restrictions do not apply to air travel.


Restricted non-essential travel includes individuals traveling to the U.S. for tourism purposes, including sightseeing, recreation, gambling or attending cultural events.


Essential travel is permitted. On March 24, 2020, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) published Federal Register notices with additional information about impacted travel from Canada and Mexico, specifying that essential travel includes, but is not limited to:

  • U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents returning to the United States;
  • Individuals traveling for medical purposes (e.g., to receive medical treatment in the United States);
  • Individuals traveling to attend educational institutions;
  • Individuals traveling to work in the United States (e.g., individuals working in the farming or agriculture industry who must travel between the United States and Mexico or Canada in furtherance of such work);
  • Individuals traveling for emergency response and public health purposes (e.g., government officials or emergency responders entering the United States to support Federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial government efforts to respond to COVID-19 or other emergencies);
  • Individuals engaged in lawful cross-border trade (e.g., truck drivers supporting the movement of cargo between the United States and Mexico or Canada);
  • Individuals engaged in official government travel or diplomatic travel;
  • Members of the U.S. Armed Forces, and the spouses and children of members of the U.S. Armed Forces, returning to the United States; and
  • Individuals engaged in military-related travel or operations.


Under the order, CBP may still  adjudicate Free Trade applications at the border, including L-1 petitions and TN applications for Canadians. Travelers with valid visas and visa exempt travelers, including individuals traveling on the Visa Waiver Program, may be admitted at Ports of Entry from Canada or Mexico, though these travelers should expect scrutiny as to whether their travel meets essential travel criteria.     Despite CBP’s fairly broad definition of essential travel, not all business travel may be deemed essential by a CBP officer at a Port of Entry.   Individuals planning to enter the U.S. from Canada or Mexico during the restricted period should confer with counsel prior to travel.  There have been anecdotal reports that some CBP officers have denied admission to individuals because their employment was not deemed essential.

With respect to travel from Mexico, U.S. consular closures in Mexico directly impact the ability to secure L and TN visas for admission to the U.S.

As a reminder, foreign nationals who have traveled in one of the otherwise restricted countries (China, Iran and Europe) in the 14 days prior to requesting admission to the U.S. from Canada or Mexico will not be admitted.

Finally, CBP advises that any person with COVID-19 symptoms should not make a personal appearance at a Port of Entry.

For additional information, please contact your Gibney representative or email

COVID 19: UK Issues New Travel Rules Effective June 8

The United Kingdom has issued new rules for travelers entering or returning to the country on or after Monday, June 8, 2020.

Resident and Visitor Guidelines

Returning residents or visitors traveling to the UK on or after June 8 will be required to:

This requirement will apply to British citizens, residents of the UK, and international visitors entering for business or tourism.  Travelers are encouraged to check the latest public health advice on coronavirus before travel or upon arrival in the UK.

Exempt Travelers

Individuals traveling to the UK from the Common Travel Area (the Republic of Ireland, Channel Islands and the Isle of Man) are exempt if they have been present in the Common Travel Area for 14 days prior to entering the UK. The full guidance on exemptions is available here.

Other Key Considerations

  • Failure to self-isolate can result in a fine of up to £1000 and failure to provide accurate contact information or keep contact information updated during self-isolation, may result in a fine of up to £3,200.
  • Additional information regarding regulations for self-isolation can be found here.
  • This structure will be reviewed by the British Government every three weeks and may be withdrawn if the COVID-19 situation improves.

Gibney will continue to monitor these updates. For questions, please contact your Gibney representative or email

Proclamation Suspends Entry of Certain Chinese Nationals on F and J Visas

On May 29, 2020, President Trump issued a Proclamation suspending the entry of certain students and researchers from the People’s Republic of China (PRC).   The stated purpose is to limit access to sensitive U.S. technologies and intellectual property by restricting F and J visas for certain Chinese nationals. The Proclamation is effective June 1, 2020.

Who is impacted?

The Proclamation bars the entry certain nationals of the PRC seeking to enter the U.S. on an F (student) or J (exchange visitor) visa to pursue graduate-level study or conduct research in the U.S. who have ties to entities in the PRC that support or implement China’s military-civil fusion strategy.

China’s “military-civil fusion” (MCF) strategy refers to “actions by or at the behest of the PRC to acquire and divert foreign technologies, specifically critical and emerging technologies, to incorporate into and advance the PRC’s military capabilities.”

The Proclamation targets graduate students and researchers who have any of the following ties to an entity in the PRC that supports or implements China’s MCF strategy:

  • receives funding from such entity
  • is currently employed by, studies at, or conducts research at or on behalf of, such entity or
  • has been employed by, studied at, or conducted research at or on behalf of, such entity.

The Proclamation also gives the Secretary of State discretion to revoke F or J visas of certain Chinese nationals currently in the U.S. who otherwise meet the criteria for suspension of entry.  Revocation of a visa by the Department of State does not automatically revoke valid status in the U.S.; rather, it invalidates the visa stamp for future entry to the U.S.  Chinese nationals in the U.S. in F or J status should consult with program sponsors and/or immigration counsel before departing the U.S.

Who is not impacted?

The Proclamation does not apply to:

  • Undergraduate students;
  • Lawful permanent residents of the United States;
  • Spouses of United States citizens or lawful permanent residents;
  • Members of the United States Armed Forces and any foreign national who is a spouse or child of a member of the United States Armed Forces;
  • Foreign nationals whose travel falls within the scope of Section 11 of the United Nations Headquarters Agreement or who would otherwise be allowed entry into the United States pursuant to United States obligations under applicable international agreements;
  • Foreign nationals studying or conducting research in a field involving information that would not contribute to the PRC’s military-civil fusion strategy, as determined by relevant agencies;
  • Foreign nationals whose entry would further United States law enforcement objectives, as determined by relevant agencies;
  • Foreign nationals whose entry would be in the national interest, as determined by relevant agencies.

The Proclamation does not prevent a person from seeking asylum, refugee status, withholding of removal, or protection under the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, consistent with U.S. law.

The Secretary of State, or his designee, has the sole discretion to determine whether a person is subject to or exempt from the Proclamation, pursuant to standards the Secretary establishes.

What are the effective dates?

The Proclamation is effective at 12:00 p.m. eastern daylight time on June 1, 2020, and will remain in effect until modified or terminated.

How will this proclamation be implemented?

We expect additional guidance regarding implementation of the rule at U.S. consulates and ports of entry.   The Secretary of State is also authorized to promulgate regulations regarding admissibility consistent with the Proclamation.

Within 60 days, the Proclamation directs the Department of State and the Department of Homeland Security to review nonimmigrant and immigrant programs and recommend any other measures that would mitigate the risk posed by the PRC’s acquisition of sensitive United States technologies and intellectual property.

We also expect heightened scrutiny of all Chinese nationals applying for temporary visas or immigration benefits.   Under the Proclamation, any foreign national who willfully misrepresents a material fact, seeks to circumvent the Proclamation through fraudulent means, or enters the United States illegally, will be deemed a priority for deportation.

What is the impact on employers?

U.S. educational institutions, program sponsors, and employers should consult with immigration counsel as well as export control experts to evaluate the potential impact of the Proclamation on students and employees, including those working pursuant to Optional Practical Training (OPT).  Chinese nationals should consult with their designated school officials, program sponsors and/or immigration counsel before applying for an F or J visa or departing the U.S.

The breadth of the Proclamation’s impact will depend on the specific Chinese entities and universities deemed to be supporting or implementing China’s MCF strategy, which fields of research and technology may be exempted because they would not contribute to China MCF strategy, and how the Department of State exercises its discretion to revoke visas for those currently working or studying in the U.S.

Gibney will continue to monitor developments and provide updates.  If you have any questions about this alert, please contact your Gibney representative or email

USCIS to Reinstate Premium Processing Service

On May 29, 2020, USCIS announced that it intends to reinstate premium processing service for eligible I-129 petitions and I-140 petitions in stages over the next few months pursuant to the following schedule:

Effective June 1, 2020

  • USCIS will accept premium processing requests for all previously eligible I-140 petitions.
  • I-140 petitions filed for Multinational Executive/Managers and I-140 petitions requesting a National Interest Wavier are not eligible for premium processing service.

Effective June 8, 2020

USCIS plans to resume offering premium processing service for:

  • H-1B petitions filed before June 8 that are pending adjudication, sponsored by cap-exempt institutions, such as institutions of higher education, nonprofit research organizations or a governmental research organizations.
  • H-1B petitions filed before June 8 that are pending adjudication,  filed for individuals who have previously been counted against the H-1B cap.
  • All other non H-1B I-129 petitions that were previously eligible for premium processing, filed before June 8 and pending adjudication. This includes I-129 petitions requesting  TN and O-1 status.


Effective June 15, 2020

USCIS plans to resume offering premium processing service for H-1B petitions requesting premium processing by filing a Form I-907 concurrently with the I-129 (or requests for petitions filed on or after June 8) and are exempt from the cap because:

  • The employer is cap-exempt or because the beneficiary will be employed at a qualifying cap-exempt institution, entity or organization (such as an institution of higher education, a nonprofit research organization or a governmental research organization); or
  • The beneficiary is cap-exempt based on a Conrad/IGA waiver under INA section 214(l).

Effective June 22, 2020

USCIS plans to resume to offer premium processing for all other Form I-129 petitions, including:

  • All H-1B cap-subject petitions (including those for fiscal year 2021), including change of status from F-1 nonimmigrant status, for both premium processing upgrades and concurrently filed I-907s.
  • All other Form I-129 petitions for nonimmigrant classifications eligible for premium processing and requesting premium processing by filing an I-907 concurrently with their I-129.

The above dates are subject to change as USCIS evaluates its workload taking on the requests.


Premium processing service was suspended March 20, 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. With the resumption of premium processing pursuant to the schedule above, petitioners may interfile or concurrently file Form I-907 for eligible I-129 or I-140 petitions and pay the filing fee (currently $1,440.00) to compel agency action on the petition within fifteen 15 days.

For additional information, please contact your designated Gibney representative or email

USCIS Preparing to Reopen Offices for Public Services Starting June 4

USCIS announced that it will resume public non-emergency services at some  local offices within the United States commencing Thursday, June 4, 2020.  The number of appointments and interviews at reopened offices will be limited to facilitate social distancing.


Interviews and Appointments
USCIS intends to send notices to applicants and petitioners with previously scheduled appointments and interviews. Recipients should follow the instructions in the notice.  Those who had other appointments must reschedule through the  USCIS Contact Center  once field offices are open to the public.

Visitors will be  limited to the applicant, one representative, one family member and one individual providing disability accommodations. If a translator is needed,  the applicant should arrange to have their interpreter available by phone.

Visitors may not enter a USCIS facility if they:

  • are symptomatic for COVID-19, including cough, fever or difficulty breathing.
  • have been in close contact with anyone known or suspected to have VOVID-19 within the alt 14 days.
  • have been directed to self-quarantine by a health care provider or public health official within the last 14 days.

If you receive a USCIS  appointment notice and you are sick, you should not attend the appointment.  You should reschedule the appointment following the instructions on the appointment notice.  There is no penalty for rescheduling the appointment due to illness.

Naturalization Ceremonies
USCIS will begin to reschedule postponed naturalization ceremonies.  Ceremonies will be streamlined and attendance will be limited to the naturalization candidate and individuals providing assistance to disabled persons.

Application Support Centers (ASCs)
USCIS will automatically reschedule ASC appointments, which include appointments for biometrics collection.  Individuals will receive  new appointment letters in the mail, with specific safety instructions.  Individuals who appear at a date or time other than that which is specified in the appointment notice may encounter significant processing delays.

Asylum Offices
USCIS asylum offices will automatically reschedule asylum interviews that were cancelled during the temporary closures. When USCIS reschedules the interview, asylum applicants will receive a new interview notice with the new time, date and location for the interview and information about safety precautions.  Please review the USCIS notice for additional information concerning protocols for affirmative asylum interviews and non-detained or reasonable fear interviews.


Visitors to USCIS offices may not enter the facility more than 15 minutes  prior to their scheduled appointment or 30 minutes prior to the naturalization  ceremony, as applicable. Visitors should prepare as follows:

  • Hand sanitizer will be provided for visitors at entry points.
  • Members of the public must wear facial coverings that cover both the mouth and nose when entering facilities. If they do not have one, USCIS may provide one or the visitor will be asked to reschedule their appointment.
  • There will be markings and physical barriers in the facility; visitors should pay close attention to these signs to ensure they follow social distancing guidelines.
  • Individuals may have to answer health screening questions before entering a facility.
  • Individuals are encouraged to bring their own black or blue ink pens.

Please visit the USCIS offices closure page for the status of individual USCIS offices.  USCIS will continue to provide limited emergency services at offices that remain  closed if special arrangements are made through  the USCIS contact center.

For additional information about this alert, please contact your designated Gibney representative or email