USCIS COVID-19 News Updates Article

USCIS COVID 19 Updates : USCIS Offices Closed Until May 3 for In-person

In US Immigration - Visas by KumarUpdated : 84 Comments

The Novel Coronavirus situation is worsening with more and more cases globally…Every country is taking many measures to handle the unprecedented situation. In this context, President Trump has taken many measures such as banning entry from certain countries like China, EU Region, etc. which have more COVID-19 cases.  In addition to that, On March 13th, 2020, President Trump Declared National Emergency for COVID-19 Outbreak. Also, US Embassy in India has Canceled Visa Appointments… Also, USCIS continue to announce alerts like rescheduling their appointments, closing offices, etc..With all of these going on, many of you are wondering what does it mean for international holders on visas like H1B, H4, F1, L1, etc. and how does it impact USCIS processing, if your petition is expiring or you have an appointment with USCIS. We will cover all those aspects in this article and keep this page updated as we have new alerts issues by USCIS.

Apr-3 – AILA Files Lawsuit against USICIS to extend deadlines

April 3, 2020 : AILA filed a lawsuit against USCIS/DHS seeking extension of deadlines and implementing status quo for all the lawful non-immigrants in US. Check completed details at AILA Lawsuit against USCIS – COVID-19 Extend Deadlines

Apr-1 – USCIS Offices Closed at least until May 3rd.

April 1st, 2020 : USCIS issued an alert today indicating that they continue to keep their offices closed at least until May 3rd. The previous guidance was that they would have it closed at least until April 1st, now they are extending the same for another month at least. What does it mean for everyone ? It is no different from before, you cannot go for Biometrics Appointments for H4, L2. You cannot do any interviews or in-person activities that require your presence in their office. You cannot have Naturalization ceremonies or Infopass Appointment, including Asylum interviews. USCIS will take necessary steps to re-schedule all the appointments accordingly and send you the new appointments once they plan to open their Offices for In-person activities. It is going to further delay processing of H4, B2, H4 + EAD, L2 + EAD applications that require Biometrics as part of I-539 form. Looking at the situation, we do not know, if USCIS will be ready. Hope they issue some guidance to re-use the Biometrics for other visa types such as H4, B2, L2, etc. Currently, the Biometrics re-use is only applicable to I-765 forms that are for few categories, Check below Mar 30th update. See below alert screenshot from USCIS, check it at USCIS Press Alert

USCIS Offices Closed Until May 3rd for COVID-19

Mar-30 – Reuse Biometrics for I-765 forms, continue processing

March 30th, 2020 : USCIS announced today that they will re-use any previously submitted biometrics to process the Form I-765 forms that are submitted for Employment Authorization Document (EAD). The EAD Categories that require biometrics are below :

  • (c)(33) – DACA Holders
  • (c)(35) – Approved employment-based immigrant petition with compelling circumstances
  • (c)(36) – spouse or unmarried dependent child of employment-based immigrant petition with compelling circumstances
  • (c)(37) – CNMI long-term resident status. 

They have not given any guidance for the I-539 form, which requires Biometrics for H4, L2, etc. Those visa categories will need to defer their biometrics appointments. It is not a relief for H4 holders who have concurrent EAD filing as well… Read USCIS Alert

Mar-27 – RFE and NOID – Submission 60 Days Flexibility Option

March 27th, 2020 : USCIS announced today that they are giving more flexibility with dates for submission of responses for Request for Evidence (RFE) and Notice of Intent to Deny(NOID) for any of employers that have received RFEs/NOIDs dated between March 1st and May 1st, 2020. Below is what it means.

  • Why Flexibility with RFE / NOID Submission : If you look at a sample RFE for Maintenance of Status, Employer Employee relationship, you will see that USCIS is requesting for many documents that would be required from employers, clients, vendors, third parties or schools to address the items in RFE or NOID. With many offices working from home and some closed, employers may not be able to respond on time with all the required documents and there can be delays. USCIS to address this situation with COVID-19, they are giving flexibility to submit the responses for RFE and NOID.
  • 60 Days Flexibility to Submit Docs : USCIS says that, if you have got an RFE or NOID, that is dated between March 1st and May 1st, 2020, then you get additional 60 days flexibility to submit the documents. USCIS will consider any responses that are received within 60 Calendar days from the deadline specified in the RFE/ NOID, before they take any action or decision on the case. Technically, they will wait for 60 more days from the deadline date in RFE.
  • All Visa Types, Benefits Applied : USCIS has not specified any specific Visa types or Form Types in the alert. It is safe to assume that this applies to all visa types like H1B, H4 Visa, L1, L2, EADs every other form that is applied with USCIS
  • This is a good move by USCIS to help employers respond to RFEs. They do not talk about any of the old RFE notices that were issued before March 1st. So, if you were to receive an RFE on Feb 28th, then you need to respond accordingly within the deadline given, there is no additional 60 days grace period. See below screenshot for official alert and check USCIS Official Alert
USCIS Flexibility for RFE responses - 60 more days with COVID-19

Mar-25 – USCIS Offices Closed at least until April 7th.

March 25th, 2020 : USCIS issued an alert and press release today indicating that they are closing their offices at least until April 7th, 2020. It may open after that, unless they extend the closures. They also indicate that USCIS staff is working on the cases that are already with them and will send out the re-schedule notices for all sorts of appointments, interviews, etc. If there is any emergency, you can contact their service center. Check USCIS press release

Mar-20 : Premium Processing Closed, Wet Signature Flexibility

March 20th, 2020 : USCIS did two press releases today outlining cancellation of Premium Processing for I-129 and I-140 forms and also provided flexibility with the Signature when submitting forms. Below are the details by each of the key alerts

Premium Processing Suspended for I-129, I-140 forms

USCIS announced that their Premium Processing service is suspended until further notice for anyone using the forms I-129 and I-140. The reason for the suspension is the national emergency with COVID-19. The various visa holders impacted are :

  • I-129 form : Visa Applications for H1B, L1A, L1B, E1, E2, H2B, H3, LZ, O1, O2, P1, P1S, P2S, P3, Q1, R1, TN1, TN2
  • I-140 form : EB-1, EB-2 and EB-3 ( Green Card petitions for Employment Based workers )

Starting from March 20th, 2020, USCIS will not accept and process any of the above mentioned forms related to the the visa types in Premium Processing. They will process any of the previously accepted Premium Processing requests before March 20th as per the SLA of 15 days. They also said that the pre-paid mailers options cannot be done due to the situation and only send direct approval notices in their batch printed notices.

They mentioned that, if someone has filed in Premium Processing before March 20th, 2020 and have not heard from USCIS within the SLA of 15 calendar days, then they will receive a refund of the premium processing fee. Also, they will also reject any Premium processing requests that were submitted before March 20th, but not accepted by USCIS and return the Filing fee.

Premium Processing is suspended for all H1B Petitions at this point. The previous Premium processing for FY 2021 guidance is not valid anymore and the tentative dates in them are also not applicable now. In summary, below is the availability situation. Check USCIS Official Press Release

H1B Visa Filing CategoryPremium Processing Status
H1B TransfersSuspended
H1B AmendmentsSuspended
H1B ExtensionsSuspended
All H1B FY 2021 Cap
( Regular & Masters Cap)
( COS, Consular Processing)
Suspended
Cap Exempt H1Bs
(Non Profit Research, etc.)
Suspended
Previous H1B Cap Pending
(FY 2020 petitions)
Suspended

Flexibility with Wet Signature for Forms

USCIS announced that, due to many offices working from home with COVID-19, they are giving flexibility with wet signature on the forms submitted to them. Below is the actual issue and flexibility given by USCIS.

  • Issue to Submit Wet Signature Forms : With many working from home, the key issue is employers, attorney or applicants may not be able to get the actual wet signature on a USCIS form and submit the same physical copy with application package, when anyone files for a petition for benefit.
  • USCIS Flexibility Option for Signatures : USCIS will accept all forms and documents with reproduced original signatures from March 21st, 2020. This includes I-129 form used for H1B and many other visas types. They say that they already accept such signature for other documents. Let’s understand what is that reproduced signature they accept.
  • Reproduced Original Signature : USCIS clarified that, a reproduced original signature is nothing but a physical form with wet signature ( signed by an actual person with pen) that is scanned, faxed or photocopied from the original handwritten signature. Basically, all they are saying is, you need to fill out a physical form, sign it in wet ink with pen and then scan the same and send it to them. They will consider such scanned documents of the original signature, which is called reproduced original signature.
  • Retain Original Copies of Reproduced Original Signature : They also mention that all the applicants, employers, attorney need to retain the original copies of the documents that they signed and scanned for verification purpose. USCIS may ask for these in the future, if needed.

You can check the official USCIS Press release for Signatures Guidance

Mar-17 : USCIS Offices Closed to Public for In-Person Activities

March 17th, 2020 : USCIS announced today that they are closing all their offices to public for in-person activities at its field offices, asylum offices and Application Support Centers (ASCs) until April 1st (at least). The reason for this closure is to contain the spread of Coronavirus. Below are the various services that are not available at USCIS offices

  • Biometrics Appointments at ASCs for H4, L2, others
  • In-person Interviews
  • Naturalization Ceremonies
  • Asylum applicants interviews
  • Infopass appointments
  • Any in-person activities for general public.

If you have Infopass appointment or other appointments that are not part of standard process as part of forms filed, then you need to reschedule the same by calling USCIS Contact Center.

What will USCIS do to these appointments scheduled ?

USCIS mentioned that they will send respective notices indicating the closure of the offices and activities to all such applicants with scheduled in-person activities. They will automatically reschedule and send new appointment notices for Biometrics and other activities once USCIS resumes normal operations. Also, they will do the same for Asylum Applicants with interviews rescheduled with new date and location.

Limited Emergency Services

USCIS said that they will provide limited Emergency services. If you have an Emergency need, then you should contact USCIS Contact Center for guidance.

Check Field Offices, ASCs Status

USCIS suggested that they check the USCIS Field Office or ASC status before they go. You can check their current status at USCIS.gov – Field Offices List

What is the impact of USCIS Office Closures ?

This is going to have a very big impact on many people’s ability to work, especially all the H4 EAD holders, if this extends beyond April 1st. As you know H4 + EAD Delays with Biometrics Process, and this closure will mean that those delays will be far more…As H4 EAD holders do not get 180 days automatic extension, for their pending EAD applications, they may end up in situations of losing jobs… If you have H4/ L2 expiring, think of all the options, discuss with your attorney and plan.

Below is the complete alert from USCIS. You can check Official Alert – USCIS Offices Closed

USCIS Offices Closed for In-person Activities until April 1st Alert

Mar-13 : What does National Emergency for COVID-19 Outbreak by Trump mean?

The National Emergency declaration by Trump is an action taken by US President with his authority to prioritise certain key activities in critical situations, release funds, give waivers for certain things, etc. In fact, in 2009, President Obama also announced National Emergency for H1N1 Swine Flu.  With the National Emergency declaration by President Trump, he can free up federal funds to support state and local activities to protect public health and safety. Fundamentally, it is for taking care of the public health and safety measures, distribute supplies like medicine & food as needed.

What does National Emergency with COVID-19 mean for USCIS operations ?

So far, the National Emergency declared by Trump has no immediate impact on the operations of USCIS. They continue to operate, and process applications filed with them like before. They have given guidance before on the re-scheduling on appointments, if you are sick. We will cover those details later in the article. The key thing to remember is that, this guidance was given by USCIS before the National Emergency Declaration for Coronavirus situation.  Below are the key actions from USCIS on their operations and expected outcomes.

  • Remote Work Program: As of March 9th, USCIS indicated that they will implement Work from Home or Remote Work Program across the agency for their employees. Essentially, USCIS employees continue to work on their day to day activities, but they do not come to office, rather work remotely.  Read USCIS Letter on Remote Work Program
  • Biometrics / Interviews Re-scheduled: USCIS gave guidance that Biometrics, interview appointments in their offices or Application Support Centers (ASCs) need to be re-scheduled, if the applicant is sick for any reason. This will basically delay the processing time for  applications that require Biometrics or Interviews like H4 Visa.
  • Potential Delays with Processing : Due to the Remote work program and maybe some employees taking sick leave or some maybe impacted with COVID-19, there could be further delays with the USCIS processing times.
  • Application Support Centers( ASCs) Closed : USCIS gave guidance that some Application Support centers maybe closed with COVID-19 situation. If so, they will mail you a new biometrics or interview appointment notice.  Also, they suggest that you can go to another ASC and still get your biometrics done. You can check USCIS Offices Status Page for up to date info on all offices and their status

Mar-13 : USCIS Guidance for Biometrics Appointments, Interviews – Reschedule as needed

March 13th, 2020 : USCIS has updated their website with a big alert and details  as in below screenshot that tells not to come to Application Support Centers or any USCIS office for any Biometrics appointments or any other appointments, if you sick.  It does not matter, if you have been exposed to Coronoavirus or not.  They suggest that you follow the instructions on the appointment notice to re-schedule the appointment.  There is NO Penalty for re-scheduling the appointments. If you feel sick and have any of the below conditions as in below screenshot, do not visit USCIS Office.

USCIS Guidance for Biometrics and Other Appointments for Coronavirus

If you go to USCIS office, when you are Sick, then the officer at the office may cancel your appointment or interview.

How to Reschedule your USCIS Appointment ?

Usually, if you look at the appointment notice, you will see a section that says “Request for Rescheduling”, it has instructions on how to mail the same.  You can write a simple letter indicating the situation and ask for rescheduling the same.  You can call USCIS service center as well to get to know more info. The Notice you got would have the Number to call as well.  See below screenshot sample for H4 Biometrics Appointment Notice.

Request for Re-scheduling Appointment from USCIS

These are important measures to consider, while you may be worried that your processing time for Visa or Extension is going to be delayed…but, the fact of life is health and safety come first and follow the guidance.

 Common FAQs

How long will USICS take to reschedule my Biometrics Appointment ?

They have announced that the offices are closed for public until April 1st, we do not know how long it can go further. Only thing we can do is wait for their update.

Can I use Job Loss for Emergency Biometrics Appointment ?

Maybe not, just for the job loss. Many have tried that in the past for expediting the case, but have been rejected for expedited processing. You can check USCIS Expedite Processing Request details to get an idea for expedite processing, but we do not know, if USCIS will take all of those now for emergency appointment. You can try calling USCIS Contact center and check.

I have already given Biometrics, will the USCIS office closure Impact ?

Probably not. If you already have done Biometrics, your cases should be processed as USCIS employees continue to work from home and doing their job. It maybe slow, but it will be processed.

With National Emergency, Can I file my H1B, H4 or L1 Extension or Transfers with USCIS ?

Yes, you can. As of today, there is no such restriction guidance given by USCIS.

Will there be more delays with Processing of my Petition with USCIS ?

Yes, you may expect that. Due to the COVID-19 situation, some employees may be on leave and remote work may delay some processing too.

Do we still have Premium Processing for H1B and others with Coronavirus Situation ?

No, all are suspended. USCIS clarified on March 20th that premium processing is suspended for all types of petitions using forms I-129 and I-140. The previous Premium processing is suspended for H1B FY 2021 Cap does not hold valid anymore too with the new guidance.

Is there any penalty for rescheduling USCIS Appointments ?

No, there is no penalty for it. You need to indicate the reason for rescheduling indicating that you are sick.

What do you think of the USCIS processing times with COVID-19 ?

Reference : USCIS Guidance COVID-19

   

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Comments ( 84 )

  1. Ramyalakshmi

    We applied for H1 premium + H4 +H4 EAD on March 12. H1B premium got approved by March 19. H4 and H4 EAD got received by March 17, 2020. Due to this COVID-19 issue, will my H4 and H4 EAD will get processed? My current EAD expiring by 23 May 2020. I am confused what will happen. Please tell me will my EAD get processed?

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      Ramyalakshmi,
      Well, the challenge is you cannot give biometrics and USCIS has not given guidance, so it could be in pending state….
      EAD will not get processed without H4…hope USCIS gives some guidance soon on biometrics… Plan for backups.

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      Spence,
      There is no estimated processing timeline for regular processing, It can take few weeks to few months…

  2. Anup

    Hi,
    Thank you for sharing the info. As per your latest article the USCIS offices will remain closed until May 3rd. Will this also have an impact on the 221G cases being processed in India? Are there any tentative dates on when the 221G processings will resume back?

    Thanks

  3. Kumar

    We have applied(first time) L2 EAD in the month of February. Do you see any delay in processing EAD due to COVID-19 ? Bio-metric is not required for my case. Appreciate your response.

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      Kumar,
      Yes, it can be delayed for sure, as there are many pending applications and USCIS is not in full capacity.

  4. Freddy

    Hi there,

    I’ve moved into the US in January with an L1-A VISA and I’ve just been laid off (a.k.a fired) due to the COVID-19 situation. My I-94 expires in December 2022.

    My understanding is that, even if my I-94 is valid until Dec 2022, I have 60 days to leave the country. Is this right?

    Also, right now the borders of my country are closed and I’m not sure this will change in the near future. With this scenario, what can I do to pause/stop the 60-days countdown now that I’ve just lost my job. Is there any new law considering the current world situation? Even if I’m willing to leave the US, I can’t enter my country.

    Last question: my current L1-A is not transferrable and tight me to work only for the employer that brought me into the US and have just dismissed me. Is there any new rule/possibility of being legally employed by another company due to this force majeure situation?

    Thanks in advance for your enormous help!

  5. aakash

    My H1B visa will be max-out date is 25th May 2020 and if international travel is banned between US and India that time so how can we travel or extend our stay in US. I have B1 valid visa but my spouse is on H4. My kids have US passport.
    Please suggest what can be done in my case.

    Thanks

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      aakash,
      Both you and your spouse need to apply for Change of Status to B2 status. Having visa is only for entering, you need to apply for COS.

  6. Klaus R

    Hi,

    My L1 visa and my I94 is expiring soon (blanket L petition) and so does my family’s L2. I have been here for 3years.
    I was about to travel to my home country for the extension but the interview has been cancelled. So, I stayed in the US.
    Can I extend the L1 here in the US?
    Can I stay and work in the US if I do not get it back before it has been extended?
    Can I continue working with just the I94 but not having an extended L1, yet?
    What happens to my wife’s L2 and here EAD? Does she has to stop working?

  7. Apurva Mehta

    Hi,

    I got an RFE yesterday. Don’t even know what it is about yet. My problem is that my 240 days expire on May 24th. (We had applied for my extension on Aug 30th – USCIS took 8 months to Request for more Evidence).

    I live and work in NY. My lawyer’s offices are closed.

    What are my options? Has USCIS considered relaxing this 240-day criterion considering the COVID19 situation?

    Any help would be appreciated.

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      Apurva,
      So far, they have not informed any relaxation on that, you need to stop working at 240 days limit…that’s the current rule.

  8. Spence

    Do you see any delays in processing, with the lockdowns due to COVID 19?

    We have filed for H4 EAD last week – which means H1 wont be premium processing.
    How long do you think the H4 EAD processing would take? What to expect during this time?

      1. Spence

        Thank you so much for your reply.

        I do have one question
        What is the processing time, when H1B files in non premium processing.
        My EAD expires in September.

  9. Karthik

    Hi Kumar,
    I have applied for H1B Amendment in premium processing on December 27 from India and that has been went to RFE. My employer is planning to respond back to USICS by March 31st, So will they process my petition in Premium processing and also my H1B approval ending date is March – 31st.

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      Karthik,
      Premium processing is not available now…But, as you filed last year, they may…hard to say…Well, as long as it was filed properly, you can continue to work for 240 days for extensions.

  10. Sejal

    Hi, I’m planning to transfer my H1 By giving 2weeks notice to my employer and joining the other employer after the receipt notice though my current H1 is valid until 2021

    If Transfer gets rejected can I work on my Actual H1?
    Do my new employer needs to file for an extension also ?

    What are my options?

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      Sejal,
      It is a very risky move…You may or may not be able to go back…they should keep it, instead of withdrawing….it is a grey area and do not suggest that you take this route looking at current situation world wide. Only transfer after you get approval.

  11. Raj Kumar

    Hi,

    My H1B visa max-out date is 30th May and if international travel is banned between US and India that time so how can we extend our stay in US. I have B1 valid visa till 2024 but my wife has only H4. What option we could have?

    Thanks,
    Raj Kumar

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      Raj,
      Your options are to convert to B2 visa. You can apply B2 for her too. Irrespective of having B1 visa, you need to apply for Change of status. Discuss with your attorney and then plan it out.

      1. Jeet Bhadra

        Hi Kumar,
        Thanks for your note.

        I could file an H1-B transfer with 1 year extension against my PERM. My previous I-94 was valid until September, 2019. At this point, I am not in a position to file another H1 extension and the current extension request was made until May 30 th.

        1. Can I wait until I get the decision or have to leave the country, if the decision is not made by end of May?
        2. I am having an I-20. Is it okay to file a COS without a valid I94, based on the H1B transfer receipt and previous I-94?
        3. If the F1 COS is filled before May, Can I maintain legal status in US as a student?

        Thanks and Regards,
        Jeet

        1. administrator
          Kumar

          Jeet,
          You may wait. The reason is, you have not seen the decision yet….So, technically it is still in processing.
          This is tricky as COS for F1 can be even longer…Also, if expired, they may or may not give it…
          As I said, you should avoid that…Not sure, if you are thinking of day 1 CPT kind of things…
          Overall, I would not get F1 status, just for immigration as it is not the right thing to do in long run…Discuss with an attorney and use your discretion.

  12. Sudharshan Sakthivel

    My visa expiry date was December 31st 2019. My company applied for H1B extension and got RFE on January 6th 2020. I was given time till April 6th 2020 to respond to my RFE.

    Last week, I was very close to getting an opportunity with a client but the client backed out due to COVID-19 situation.

    And today I got news that my current employer is planning to let go off all employees in bench.

    They are planning to give 3 weeks furlough and then probably lay-off.

    And they also confirmed that my employer will not respond to my visa RFE.

    As the current situation stands,
    After April 6th my visa may get terminated.

    I can think of two options.

    – [ ] Apply for H-4 Transfer visa with my wife’s I-140
    – [ ] Transfer my H1B visa to another prospective employer

    I got my H1B visa on October 2016 and I have only crossed first 3 years.

    This is one of the reasons I want to see if it is possible to move my H1B visa to another employer ? If so by when should I intiate my H1B transfer with the new employer?

    Also if I transfer my visa to H4, how long will it take to process and make me ready for employment?

    Note:

    My 240 days expires on August 27 2020

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      Sudharshan,
      Sorry to hear your situation. When did the I-94 expire ? Is it still valid ?
      If your I-94 expired, then you are in tricky situation with you being in period of authorized stay. With the COVID-19 situation, you may request for consideration and apply for transfer. usually, you get 60 days for grace period, but that may not apply to your case, if your I-94 expired. Talk to an attorney and handle it carefully.

  13. Was

    Hello Kumar,

    Hope you are doing good.
    My i94 expired already and 240 days going to end on April 05th, right now, visa status is “RFE response received”. My employer unable to upgrade to premium due to temporarily suspension of premium processing so, I have very short time now, am I allowed to extend stay beyond 240 days or will have to leave country ? Will USCIS extend 240 days period due to COVID-19 ? Kindly help on situation.

    Thanks
    Was

  14. Priya k

    My H1b Visa was denied on 03/18 but i still have to receive official email from company and I learnt that the international airports will be closed. Can i apply for any extension of stay in usa? How can that be done

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      Priya k,
      Well, this is extreme situation and you may request it under humanitarian grounds. Talk to USCIS or an attorney and apply for B2 Change of status. Submit all the proofs. Once the travel ban is lifted, then you can leave.

        1. Priya k

          Hey sorry for late reply. Legal team mentioned i can stay and it would be unlawful presence. I had backup plan of PR-canada. So i came to canada yesterday with my car and two pups. Will reapply from here!
          Thanks for checking

          1. Padma

            Good backup.
            I ended up leaving to India on 13 th March. But couldn’t bring kids due to restrictions for OCI holders.. I had scheduled fingerprinting appointment the following Sunday and interview on Mon.. Completed fingerprinting but Monday interview just kept pushing.. Just missed it one day. Now on week 3 and still waiting.what do you plan to apply from Canada ? I mean how to do plan to work with your employer ?

          1. jr

            Hi,

            after we convert to B2 from H1, would that affect being an employee as well? I understand we can’t work but wondering whether we need to quit as well or we can be still an employee ( maybe in leave)

          2. administrator
            Kumar

            jr,
            Yes, you cannot be employee. It is you as individual on B2. You should quit the company, you cannot be on leave. For employee they need to maintain I-9 compliance, which they cannot once you move to B2.

  15. Roshan George

    I got my h4 family visa for usa from india in February. We were told to visit the country in 6 months…
    We plan to go in may
    If coronavirus condition doesnt improve
    Will our visas be extended?
    Or we will compulsorily have to go to usa or visas will be cancelled

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      Roshan,
      You can go to US on H4 as long as it is valid. If expires, you can use the new H1B approved and get another extension.
      H4 will not be cancelled, if you do not travel.

  16. Jag

    i94 expired in 12/31 and my 240 days going to end in April 15th. my emp applying premimum for responding RFE. what if my extension denied ? am I allowed to extend stay ? I have kid with OCI.

    I read the process https://redbus2us.com/emergency-visa-process-to-india-for-oci-card/.. thank you they mentioned get notarized which makes no sense during this crisis.

    USICS dont know ppl need to leave the country if denied. if yes then why they are doing like this

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      Jag,
      No, if it is denied, you need to plan to leave. You can plan to apply for the emergency visa once you have the decision, if needed.
      Yes, it does not make sense. Try UPS for notary. Also, you can call them and ask to get waiver.
      It is crisis many people are not prepared for it and some decisions may not be ideal taken by them…

  17. Nagesh

    Just like Sachin I have same issue where I got laid off last feb26. I do have a new offer but am not sure if visa will get transferred due to delays. In worst case my kids are on oci visa and it might be difficult for them to get back. I think my options too are going for urgent visa. If I am not wrong, once you are out of status you still might get some time to return. Is that true?

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      Nagesh,
      Technically, you do not get any time after your I-94 expires, you need to leave. But, with COVID-19, there could be some exceptions as this is crisis situation. make sure you take print out of the emails that you write to embassy, so that you can present the same in future, if needed.

      1. San

        Hi I’m on my H4 EAD right now and my H4 EAD and H4 will expire on may 16th I didn’t file a extension for H4 because my h1 got picked up last year and I got rfe in December and my employee answered in February last week and now I got a approval with no I-94 attached and we also receive the copy of h1b with no bottom I-94. As I try to understand the situation as I didn’t file the H4 extension I will not be able to stay after may 16 and I don’t have h1b too as my change of status didn’t get approved.
        With this pandemic situation I will not be able to leave the country can you please help me understand my options ?

        1. administrator
          Kumar

          San,
          Well, your options are limited now as you may not expect EAD to come right away and you would very likely not get EAD by May 16th. Try to apply for H4 Extension with EAD as soon as you can and then hope something happens…be prepared mentally and talk to your employer on the options. If the COVID-19 eases, then you can step out and get stamping done and re-enter…Lot of uncertainty as you know, stay positive and make an informed decisions.

  18. Nishant Jha

    Hi Kumar,

    My H1b visa was approved on 05 March 2020 and approved till 31/October/2020. That means i need to travel before September so that i can file for the extension. Since all the stamping process is closed now and suppose if i am not able to complete the process of stamping and travel to US by October 2020, what option does it leave to me for further extension or any other alternative.

    Thanks,
    Nishant

  19. Satheesh

    It is possible that India might close its borders for US passengers also. If that happens, what happens to people whose i94 is expiring? They need to stay in this country without doing work and salary, but pay their own expenses?

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      Satheesh,
      It is quite possible. Well, this is unknown…you probably need to apply for B2 COS indicating that you cannot travel back…Submit it as emergency with USCIS. Not sure, how it will all work…

  20. Rekha

    I have applied for extension in premium processing at California service center.
    and my H1 is expiring on May 3rd 2020. We received an RFE for Specialty occupation for Sr Quality Software Engineer. My employer is replying by March 31. Could someone please let me know whether premium processing is still there and I am very worried whether USCIS working remotely will have access to the RFE response. As I know we respond to RFE using paper document and not soft copy. So USCIS employee working remotely will have access to this RFE response documents or not. If premium processing is there then can I expect my decision within 15 days of the response. Please let me know. It is a panicky situation for me.

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      Rekha,
      It is still there, not cancelled yet. Yes, they will process. Only the on-site appointments are cancelled at this point.

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      Naveen,
      Check with your employer in US and Travel.gov updates and then make a decision. It is going to be very difficult for you to adjust, if you are going to one of the affected areas, if you are going to be new in the country….

      1. bikash dash

        Hi ,
        My H1B Visa extension got denied on 24th March, due to travel ban to inida , i yet to get response letter from the USCIS. what are the possible options now considering COVID19 pandemic situation. Please suggest.

        1. administrator
          Kumar

          bikash,
          Sorry to hear. Wait for the mail. Once you get it, immediately file I-539 COS to B2 and put in a request indicating the COVID-19 situation. Once the travel ban is taken out, then you can plan to exit the country. It is something that you can do online.

  21. Allan

    Hello,

    My L1 visa is expiring within the next 60 days. I was getting ready to go to my home country and get it renewed but consulate is now closed! What should I do? Is there a way to get extended or I’ll have to leave US of the consulates return to work?

    Thanks!

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      Allan,
      If you are in US, there is no need to have valid stamping, all you need to do is maintain status..As long as your L1 is valid, I mean the approval notice and I-94 is valid, you should be fine. You can ask your company to file for Extension, so that you get new I-94 and petition extension as well.

  22. Sam

    I am currently on L1-A and it’s getting maxed out next month(7 years). My life is on L2. I have a baby who is 1 year old -US citizen and OCI Card holder .
    I am planning to travel back to India with family before my max out .

    However, with COVID-19 situation , India has suspended travel for OCI card holder -hence my baby cann’t travel . Working with Indian consulate on that.
    Travel situation is getting changed everyday (With lockdown etc) .

    Wanted to understand my options – specially change of status from L1-A/L2 to B2 upon maxout . That may help my departure in an acceptable travel situation . Can this be an option?
    Also, i would prefer to travel to india as soon as there is an improved travel situation . I mayn’t have B2 approval by then and change of status may get abandoned . Does that mean i will accumulate illegal presence/out of status once my L1 gets max out,COS pending and i travel out of US ?

      1. Sam

        Hi Kumar – India has closed the Border as well . Do i have (L1 Maxout) any other known option at this point apart from COS to B2 ?
        Can L1 Maxout is eligible for COS B2 right before maxout?
        If i apply for COS to B2 and travel before COS approval (but after I94) expiry , will i be out of status for that duration (I believe it abandons COS filing) ?

        Thanks for all your support.

        1. administrator
          Kumar

          Sam,
          As far as I know, you can do COS to B2, F1, other visa types, if you can. It should be eligible, because your status changes to B2, you cannot work though.
          Well, it is possible that it will be abandoned. When you leave, you should submit a withdraw notice indicating your travel, so that you have a record of the same. Discuss with an attorney and make an informed decision.

  23. GOPINATHAN GOPAL

    I got to know my H1B Petition has been denied on March 9th, 2020 from USCIS official site but yet to receive the denial receipt from USCIS to my employer. My I94 also expired. Am I allowed to travel back to India with COVID-19 situation and all the flights cancelled to India.

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      GOPINATHAN,
      Well, this is something you should check on the travel advisory given. If you are an Indian citizen, you should be able to come to India. You just need to figure out a flight or route that can get you home. Discuss with your company as well on the options.

      1. Padma

        Following to see what Gopi did. Gopi please respond when you get a chance.
        I was in this same situation too..Visa denied on 11mar. Left country on 13th March. Couldn’t bring kids due to OCI restrictions. Did fingerprinting on 15march a sunday.yes , Mumbai office is open on Sunday. My interview for visa conversion was scheduled on 16 mar , Monday. But as you know consulate decided to shut down starting that Monday. Rest is a history.Still waiting for embassy to open.
        Just trying to understand the mentality of the RFE reviewer who decided to reject extension in those tough times knowing that people have to leave country under such circumstances.

  24. Kate

    My I94 expiry is March 28 for the recent entry, if I submit I539 on March 16. Am I good to stay after March 28 without leaving US? will there be any effect to my remain days of year?

  25. Vinu

    Hi,
    My h1 extension got RFE and my employer is planning to respond by 3/31 in premium. My 240 days after i-94 expiry is April 23rd. If my H1 got denied, then I will have to travel back to India.Considering the current situation, will there be a waiver for the 240 days rule? Has it happened in the past on a similar situation?

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      Vinu,
      The 240 days rule is only for working, it is not for staying in the country. You can continue to stay in the country. If they upgrade to premium, you would very likely get result before that date…Ask your employer, if they can do the submission before March 31st…

  26. Sachin

    Yes embassy is helping to issue visa. They told be OCI will not be valid until 4/15 and I have to apply for visa. Asked me to submit documents through email and once they get internal approval then come over and get visa. I will let you know.

    Meanwhile quick question – I am also checking with my employer to refile my H1B extension petition. What will be the deadline for this refile? my petition end date i.e 3/31 or I94 i.e. 4/10? Let me know

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      Sachin,
      Great. Do update here.
      It will be 3/31 by right. The extra 10 days is for you to wrap up your things and leave. Discuss with your attorney on this.

    1. Itneverends..

      What I meant to ask was, will they still be processing those application during this time or they will wait until he national emergency has been lifted and they are back to BAU.

  27. Sachin

    My H1 extension is denied. My current petition is valid until 3/31 and I94 until 4/10. I guess I can go back until 4/10 but need to stop working by 3/31. I have situation in going back, recently India barred OCI until 4/15. My kids are OCI, I don’t have choice but stay back until 4/15 i.e. 5 days unlawful presence. Do anyone think of any other options? Meanwhile I did send email to embassy to see if they can help to allow us to go back by 4/10.

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      Sachin,
      To clarify, for your situation as Visa is expiring for parents, you can get visa for your Son as per the emergency visa options. It is not posted on the website, but you can call them and get it. Call the Indian Embassy and get it clarified immediately. Also, do update here on it after you speak to Indian embassy for community benefit.
      It should be fine for the 5 days, just make sure you carry all the press releases with you and details of the responses from embassy, so that you can explain, if asked.

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