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USCIS COVID-19 Updates, History of News Alerts, Guidance

Since the start of COVID-19 in 2020, there have been a lot of announcements and guidance given by DHS/ USCIS. It started with President Trump Declared National Emergency for COVID-19 Outbreak in March 2020. Also, US Embassy in India has Canceled Visa Appointments… Since then, USCIS continue to announce alerts like rescheduling their appointments, closing offices, etc.. This page has history all regular updates on USCIS alerts, changes with office with COVID-19.

Below are various updates from USCIS related to COVID-19 and their guidance in terms of news and alerts, including exceptions given by them since March 2020, until today. It is up-to date as of Feb 2, 2021

Jan 28 – RFE, NOID Response – 60 Days Flexibility until Mar 31, 2021

Jan 21, 2020: In the past USCIS announced an additional 60 days flexibility in submitting RFE, NOIR, NOID, and other responses until end of Jan 2021. As the deadline approached, they have extended it until March 31st, 2021. It is exactly like before update and includes all the same provisions. You can read the below Jul 1st update. Check USCIS Alert

Jan 8 – Delay with USCIS Receipt Notices – 4 to 6 weeks

Jan 8th, 2021 : USCIS released a press note indicating 4 to 6 weeks delays in receving the receipt notices. Below is summary of the update

  • 4 to 6 week delays to get receipt notice for applications or petitions filed with USCIS LockBox.
  • Delays due to COVID restrictions, increase in filings, postal volume and other factors.
  • Delays mainly for I-485 filings with Adjustment of Status, EAD applications filed with I-765, including F1 OPT, STEM OPT.
  • USCIS working extra hours to minimize delays.
  • USCIS suggestion is to file the forms online, if eligibel to avoid the delays.
  • Check Official Press Relase on USCIS.gov
USCIS Delays with Receipt Notices
USCIS Delays with Receipt Notices 2021

Dec 30 – 1.3 Million Biomerics Appointments Pending

December 30th, 2020 : USCIS updated stakeholder that there are significant delays in the collection of Biometrics at ASCs. Due to COVID, they are really having hard time processing Biometrics appointments. As of mid-December, they say that there are about 1.3 million pending Biometrics applications at USCIS. They can only process about 10,400 appointments per day. With this rate, it will take them much over 125 days just to clear the backlog of Biometrics. If we count new ones, it can take even longer. Read official stakeholder message and see screenshot below.

User Updates USCIS – Biometrics, H1B Receipt Notices

July 2020 : Below are some of the recent updates shared by users related to the biometrics appointments and H1B, H4 and other receipt notices arrival from USCIS.

  • Rescheduled Biometrics Notices : USCIS has started to send the re-scheduled Biometrics notices as they plan to re-open ASCs. User also get Application Information Worksheet (AIW) along with the rescheduled biometrics notices. Check Sample Rescheduled H4 Biometrics Notice
  • Delay with Receipt Notices – H1B, H4, others : Many of our users and attorneys have reported that there are significant delays in getting the receipt notices from USCIS for H1B, H4, and other visa petitions. It is taking more than month and still not receipt notices. So, do NOT worry, you are not alone, if you have not got the receipt notice. Also, check Emily Neuman Attorney Blog telling the delays

Sep 11 : RFE, NOID Response – 60 Days Flexibility until Jan 1, 2021

September 11, 2020: Previously USCIS announced the 60 days flexibility in submitting responses until Sep 11th. As the deadline approached, they have extended it until January 1st, 2021. It is exactly like before update and includes all the same provisions. You can read the below Jul 1st update. Check USCIS Alert

Jul 1 : RFE, NOID Response – 60 Days Flexibility until Sept 11th

Jul 1st, 2020: Previously USCIS announced flexibility in submitting responses to RFEs, NOID, NOIR and others that are issued by USCIS for about 60 days. Today they are extending it until Sept 11th.

  • Basically, USCIS says that, if you have got an RFE or NOID, that is dated between March 1st and Sept 11th, 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.
  • This was only until July 1st, now they extended it. You can scroll down below for more details from previous updates.
  • Check USCIS News Alert

Jun 29 : Application Support Centers(ASCs) to open from July 13th.

June 29th, 2020: As many are waiting for USCIS to open ASC centers for Biometrics and other aspects, they have announced dates, when they will open each of their ASCs. Below is a the complete list of updates on when they will open. Some of these were updated as part of their webinar.

  • The procedures have changed and you no longer can do the walk-in to any ASC for biometrics or other aspects. You can only be 15 min before your appointment ( 30 min for Oath ceremonies)
  • If your Biometrics appointment was cancelled due to ASC closures COVID-19 tied to COVID-19, you will receive rescheduled appointment notices for Biometrics, interviews, etc.
  • Important change is that you should carry your own pen and fill out the Application Information Worksheet beforehand. You will get this AIW sheet in the mail along with your rescheduled appointment notice.
  • All standard previous COVID procedures like Mask, etc are required and to be followed.
  • ASC offices will open as per the below dates.
Application Support CenterWhen will it Open – Status
PhoenixWill reopen to the public on 07/20/2020.
El MonteWill reopen to the public on 07/20/2020.
Los AngelesWill reopen to the public on 07/20/2020.
OaklandWill reopen to the public on 07/13/2020.
RiversideWill reopen to the public on 07/20/2020.
San FernandoWill reopen to the public on 07/20/2020.
San FranciscoWill reopen to the public on 07/20/2020.
San JoseWill reopen to the public on 07/13/2020.
TustinWill reopen to the public on 07/20/2020.
SacramentoWill reopen to the public on 07/20/2020.
DenverWill reopen to the public on 07/20/2020.
Central Miami (formerly Hialeah ASC)Will reopen to the public on 07/20/2020.
Ft. LauderdaleWill reopen to the public on 07/20/2020.
JacksonvilleWill reopen to the public on 07/20/2020.
KendallWill reopen to the public on 07/20/2020.
MiamiWill reopen to the public on 07/13/2020.
OrlandoWill reopen to the public on 07/13/2020.
TampaWill reopen to the public on 07/20/2020.
West Palm BeachWill reopen to the public on 07/20/2020.
AtlantaWill reopen to the public on 07/13/2020.
NapervilleWill reopen to the public on 07/20/2020.
NorridgeWill reopen to the public on 07/20/2020.
IndianapolisWill reopen to the public on 07/20/2020.
New OrleansWill reopen to the public on 07/20/2020.
BaltimoreWill reopen to the public on 07/20/2020.
WheatonWill reopen to the public on 07/20/2020.
BostonWill reopen to the public on 07/13/2020.
DetroitWill reopen to the public on 07/20/2020.
DuluthPart-time ASC (one week per month) will reopen to the public on 08/11/2020.
St PaulWill reopen to the public on 07/20/2020.
Las VegasWill reopen to the public on 07/20/2020.
ElizabethWill reopen to the public on 07/13/2020.
HackensackWill reopen to the public on 07/20/2020.
BronxWill reopen to the public on 07/20/2020.
BrooklynWill reopen to the public on 07/13/2020.
HappaugeWill reopen to the public on 07/20/2020.
Queens/JamaicaWill reopen to the public on 07/20/2020.
Long IslandWill reopen to the public on 07/20/2020.
ManhattanWill reopen to the public on 07/20/2020.
Port ChesterWill reopen to the public on 07/20/2020.
CharlotteWill reopen to the public on 07/20/2020.
RaleighWill reopen to the public on 07/20/2020.
ColumbusWill reopen to the public on 07/20/2020.
PhiladelphiaWill reopen to the public on 07/13/2020.
NashvilleWill reopen to the public on 07/20/2020.
AustinWill reopen to the public on 07/20/2020.
Dallas NorthWill reopen to the public on 07/13/2020.
Fort WorthWill reopen to the public on 07/20/2020.
Houston NorthwestWill reopen to the public on 07/20/2020.
Houston SoutheastWill reopen to the public on 07/20/2020.
Houston SouthwestWill reopen to the public on 07/13/2020.
Salt Lake CityWill reopen to the public on 07/20/2020.
AlexandriaWill reopen to the public on 07/13/2020.
SeattleWill reopen to the public on 07/13/2020.

May 27 – USCIS Planning to Open Offices for Public from June 4

May 27th, 2020: As many are waiting for USCIS to open ASC centers, other offices, it is a sigh of relief for many as USCIS announced today that they plan to open some offices for non-emergency public services from June 4th. Below is the summary of the alert.

  • Reduced Appointments : USCIS says that they will reduce the number of appointments and interviews to make sure social distancing is followed and also for cleaning and reduce waiting room occupancy.
  • New Notices for Interviews, Appointments : USCIS will send new notices for previously scheduled biometrics appointments and interviews. This is typically for all H4 extensions, B2 applicants, etc. Only applicant, representative and one family member is allowed. ( one person providing disability accommodations is allowed, if applicable). Check USCIS Office Closing Page to check if the ASC close to you is open.
  • If you go without appointment to ASC : USCIS says that, unless you are military members, if you go to ASC office for biometrics or other activity, you may face significant delays.
  • Naturalisation Ceremonies : USCIS will send notices to applicants with re-scheduled dates. They will be shorter than normal ceremonies and limited to candidate only, unless need support for disability reasons.
  • Safety Precautions – Masks, Safe distancing : USCIS will indicate on the appointment notice on the safety precautions that need to be followed.
    • No one should enter, if they are sick or have any COVID-19 symptoms
    • Visitors cannot enter before 15 min of their appointment
    • Hand sanitisers will be provided.
    • Must wear mask and practice safe distancing. They will ask to take off mask for taking photo as needed.
    • There will be physical barriers in place for safe distancing.
    • Individuals to bring their own blue and black pens.
    • Check uscis.gov/visitorpolicy for full info
  • If you have any questions you should call their contact center.
  • Asylum Offices : USCIS will automatically reschedule Asylum interviews. USCIS will use video interviews for safe distancing measures by having candidate in other rooms. Also, there are restrictions on who can accompany. Check press alert for full details.
  • Check official USCIS Press Alert – June 4 Opening Offices
USCIS offices to open on June 4

May 1 – RFE, NOID Response – 60 Days Flexibility until July 1st

May 1st, 2020: USCIS announced that they are extended the 60 days flexibility to submit responses for RFEs, NOIDs, etc. dates until July 1st, 2020. Previously they announced that this flexibility was for notices issues between March 1st and May 1st. Now, they have extended it changing the period to be March 1st to July 1st, 2020. Indian media has circulated misleading headlines and is creating confusion. Below are the details and clarification.

  • No New Grace Period for H1Bs- Misleading Headlines : Below is what some popular Indian Media outlets have put in. They are just clickbait and misleading headlines. Many just read the headlines and assume certain things and get confused. The fact is that, USCIS is only giving additional 60 days for anyone who got RFE, NOID, etc for their petitions to respond, if they got it between March 1st and July 1st. This is not just for H1B visa, it is for all forms filed with USCIS and if there was a decision or RFE, NOIR, NOID, etc. This is not new, they gave exact thing in late March indicating the flexibility in submitting RFE responses until May 1st. Now, they have just extended it until July 1st, that’s about it. There is NO additional Grace period given by USCIS for H1B holders.
Misleading Headlines by Indian Media H1B Grace Period
  • Types of forms, applicants for 60 days flexibility : The flexibility to respond applies to all forms that are filed by applicant and petitioners with USCIS with below decisions or notices
    • RFE ( request for evidence)
    • NOID (Notice of Intent to Deny)
    • NOIR ( Notice of Intent to Revoke)
    • Continuation of Request Evidence(N14)
    • Notice of Intent to rescind, notices of intent to terminate regional investment center
    • filing ate requirements for form I-120B, Notice of appeal or motion.
  • Official News Alert : Check the USCIS Official News Release

History of USCIS Updates, Alerts until April 30th, 2020

Below is the history of previous updates that were issued from the start of the COVID-19 situation until April 30th, 2020.

Apr-24 – USCIS Planning to Re-open Offices on June 4

April 24, 2020 : USCIS released a press alert indicating that they are planning to re-open their offices on or after June 4th, 2020. They clarified the below :

  • USCIS employees are continuing to work on essential services that do not require any face to face interaction like Biometrics, interviews, etc.
  • They clarified that they will provide emergency in-person services, if needed and you should contact their customer service for any help.
  • They re-iterated what they said before indicating that they will automatically re-schedule appointment such as Biometrics, interviews, etc. and send relevant notices.

The reality is many have applied for H4 extensions, COS, B2, etc. using form I-539 that require Biometrics and are stuck waiting for the Application Support Centers (ASC) to open for giving Biometrics, where you need to fill Application Information Worksheet (AIW) for biometrics. So far USCIS has not given waiver for H4 visa holders and many other visa types, except categories such as. (c)(33), (c)(35), (c)(36), (c)(37). Check March 30th USCIS update, which is further below on this page for more info.

Not having ASC offices open is a huge problem for many working on certain EAD categories like H4 EAD, which does not have 180 days automatic extension. You can check EAD Category Codes that have 180 days automatic extension to work to get more info on who all have that eligibility.

June 4th, 2020 date is a hope for many stuck and waiting to give Biometrics. There are couple of lawsuits as well on this filed by some attorney’s. So far the lawsuits have not resulted in any waiver. Will keep you all posted as we have updates.

Check below screenshot and USCIS Official Press Release for more info

USCIS Offices to reopen on June 4th for ASC Appointments

Apr-13 – Extension, COS, Late Applications, Visa Waiver Options

April 13, 2020 : Many foreign nationals are stuck in US as they cannot go to home country and some have delays in submitting applications. USCIS has given guidance today on how they will handle situations of Extension of Status (EOS), Change of Status (COS), Visa Waiver Entrants, including late applications. Below is the complete summary. You may watch the YouTube video as well at the end of this update.

USCIS says that, in general non-immigrant visa holders are supposed to leave after their authorized stay ends, but they are stuck in US now due to the COVID-19 situation and USCIS understands the situation and provides the below options for non-immigrant visa holders.

  • Apply for Extension of Status / Change of Status : USCIS says that non-immigrants should file either Extension of Status or Change of Status in a timely manner to avoid issues. They do mention that many of these forms are online. It means that depending on your situation, you should take necessary action immediately to be in proper compliance. Below are some examples that apply to this guidance.
    • B2 (Visitor Visa) Extensions : If you are in US on B2 Visitor Visa like parents, and you cannot leave the country due to travel restrictions in your country, you should apply for Extension of Status online using I-539 form. It is online form and put in a letter with proof indicating that there is travel ban.
    • B2 COS for H1B or L1 Job Loss : If you have lost your job and you cannot find the job in 60 days grace period for H1Bs or L1 and cannot depart US, then you should consider applying for COS to B2. You can use the same process as above. Do this before your 60 days are exhausted to be safe. You should discuss with your attorney as well on this.
  • No Accrual of Unlawful Presence – Timely filing : USCIS says that in general, if you file COS or Extensions on time, you do not accrue any unlawful presence, when they are pending. Also, they re-iterated that for cases certain visa holders like H1B, L1, others can work for up to 240 days after I-94 expiration, when the petition is pending. So, they suggest to file on time.
  • Late Applications with COVID-19 Delays : Depending on case-by-case basis, USCIS can consider delays caused by COVID-19 for timely filing and process them, instead of rejecting the same…They would consider the delays under the Special Situations of USCIS . As an applicant, you need to provide credible evidence indicating the delay in filing and explain why it was beyond your control. The delay in filing should correspond to your situation and you cannot take it for granted and file at a much later time…You should try to file it as soon as you can…Below are some common situations that can fall under this. Also, see the regulation screenshot below on wha
    • I-539 – COS Filing Delays : It could be situations like your previous status expired or ended due to job loss or some other reason, but you could not file it before the I-94 expiration or could not leave the country immediately, you should file B2 COS with I-539 form with paperwork explaining the reason why you cannot leave and delay in filing under special circumstances.
    • H1B or L1 extensions filing Delay : If let’s say extensions were not able to be filed due to office closures or issues getting paperwork done remotely, you can put in explanation for delays.
    • Regulation Text : Below is the screenshot of the regulation text for special circumstances for delay in filing. Check Regulation USCIS COS and EOS filing delay under Extraordinary Circumstances
  • Visa Waiver Program (VWP) Applicants: In general, if you qualify for Visa waiver program, you cannot extend your stay or change status. But, with COVID-19, many cannot leave and based on USCIS discretion, they can grant up to 30 days. Also, if they cannot leave in 30 days, USCIS can give additional 30 Days. Check Regulation . Such VWP applicants should call USCIS Contact Center to arrange for the extensions.

Overall, these are extraordinary situations and you need to be complaint as per the USCIS regulations, when you stay in the country. Check Official Press Alert

YouTube video

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)
Cap Exempt H1Bs
(Non Profit Research, etc.)
Previous H1B Cap Pending
(FY 2020 petitions)

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 ?

USCIS said that they are sending biometrics notices as they have opened ASC locations now. Due to COVID-19 limitations on how many people they can have, they are sending these notices slowly. Some have got them after 60 days or even longer since the ASCs were opened in July. There is no estimated time, you should call USCIS to double check, if there are delays.

Can I use Job Loss for Emergency Biometrics Appointment ?

In general, biometrics appointment cannot be expedited. Most of the times, general processing of applications like EAD also cannot be done 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. You can try calling USCIS Contact center and check.

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

This varies by case. As ASCs are ope now, most of them may be called for biometrics again. It is up to the discretion of USCIS to use your previously used biometrics. There is no clear pattern.

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 ?

USCIS initially suspended it and then opened premium processing starting from June 1st. You can check USCIS Premium Processing Open from June 1st, 2020

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


Other Articles


  1. Hello,

    I applied for I-539 online for my mother who is on B2-visa on June 8th and her I-94 expires on August 28th. I got a receipt number within 24 hours in my USCIS account. The fee was $ 455.

    1. I just want to know , after receiving the receipt when will they send the notice for biometrics.
    2. Now that we have received the receipt, can my mother stay beyond her I-94 expiration. Beacause it says the extension takes approximately 7 to 9 months and she can stay in the US until the decision is made or pending.

    Thank you,

    • NA,
      1. This is something that is delayed, no one knows. Try to call the customer service.
      2. Yes, she can wait for up to 180 days from the day you filed your extension. If there is any option to leave the country, you should leave…

  2. Can E3 visa holders continue to work on timely filed Extension receipt notice while the application is in process. Will the below rule apply to E3 visa holders as well.

    If You File in a Timely Manner. Nonimmigrants generally do not accrue unlawful presence while the timely-filed, non-frivolous EOS/COS application is pending. Where applicable, employment authorization with the same employer, subject to the same terms and conditions of the prior approval, is automatically extended for up to 240 days after I-94 expiration when an extension of stay request is filed on time.

  3. My H1B will maxout 6 years in Jul 2020. My PERM is in progress which is unlikely to get approved by July. Considering this COVID situation, Can i apply for extension now or have to travel back if Gates are open?

    • VamshiK,
      If you have applied for PERM 365 days before Jul 2020, you can apply for extensions, if not, your options are limited. talk to an attorney and plan.

  4. Hi,

    My H1B visa has expired but I have a valid petition (I129) till 27th Aug 2020 and I-94 is valid till 6th Sept 2020. I am currently in India but due to the COVID-19 situation could not get the visa stamped yet.
    Can I apply for H1B extension before getting the visa stamped ? Please guide with the available options in order to avoid my H1B petition expiry due to the delay in visa stamping appointment.

    Ms. Naik

    • Naik,
      Yes, you can apply for extension. It has nothing to do with your stamping. You can discuss with your employer and plan for it.

  5. Hi

    Do you have any update on the H4 Bio metrics.
    I filed for H4 and H4 EAD on March 20, I got mail that my application was received. But since then i don’t see any update on the application status. I have been waiting for more than a month now.

    Is there anything that can be done, apart from just waiting for update on my application?

    Appreciate your help.

  6. What is the meaning of batch printed notices by USCIS…? we received our mail stating that application is approved but not received the letter yet…?

      • Thanks a lot for your reply…. but it’s already three weeks passed… the attorney said they are still waiting for the letter… How much time does it takes to get the letter …? Please let me know if you have any information regarding this…

          • Hi…

            Hope this message finds you well… Our attorney has filled an enquiry for the approval document… Waiting for the USCIS response in that… I am little nervous ? thinking that it has lost somewhere in the transit… If we have to get the duplicate copies what is the process..? is it a long process..?


  7. Kumar,

    I have an approved and stamped H1B visa valid till the end of this year. I have maxed out in the past but the current H1B visa is a fresh one and clock has been reset and I haven’t travelled using it yet. Due to the current situation, I’m unable to travel and I have no idea as to when I’ll be able to. I also have an approved I140 petition from 2019.

    If the current situation continues and I’m unable to travel this year and my H1B visa expires, will I remain cap exempt since I have an approved I140 so that I can apply in 2021 as cap exempt?

    What do you think?

    • Anonymous,
      If you already have I-140 approved for over 180 days, you can use that for cap exempt anytime, even if you leave the company.

    • He said they h e made an enquiry and wait for one week… this link you have sent can take 120 days to get the notice..? But it’s not our fault Right … we never received it… We have a plan to go out of country in August … if the attorney claims that they haven’t received it, will they not send another one… Also is there any expedite process for this.. I mean any letter to give stating the problem..?

      Sorry for bothering you with all these questions…

        • Thanks a lot for all your inputs… I really appreciate it… We will speak to the attorney let’s see… But will keep you informed…

          • Hello Kumar,

            Just to inform my attorney contacted USCIS and they said they will send the approval notice again if H1B… but that also has passed 4 weeks… we got the reply from USCIS in 28th April that they will issue it again… but again it’s 4 weeks and no update…. Is the USCIS office closed…? Can we raise the concern again that we still dint receive it… Please let me know..

  8. Thank you, Kumar, for the guidance.

    I will apply to the I 539 extension immediately. Would you please share from your experience if any parents in US have been given second extension? I have not found any discussion and success story. Everywhere it is indicated that one time extension is available for total period of 12 months. However, we have already got the first extension. Yes it is good to be in secure site to apply, but just wondering if you have heard the success story of second time extension. I am sure 100s of families will be applying for second time extension as its already 6 weeks lockdown and they have not be able to travel.

    • Rudra,
      Yes, I have seen people get it for extreme situations that are health related.
      I agree with your logic, but these are extreme situations and there are no options to leave the country…So, make sure you put in all documents supporting your issues.

  9. My parents arrived got an I 539 approved for extension in B2 visa. Their 12 months will expire in April 25 Because the country is locked, they cannot travel. We have applied for an extension and one was approved and they planned to travel. But now they cannot travel.

    After 5 days their new I94 date will expire. I am thinking if I can apply for a second I 539 extension? Does anyone has any experience with second-time approval? I have never found any forum discussing this. Otherwise, my parents will be out of status and accrue unlawful stay. Would anyone suggest what is the next steps? Will they consider it become of COVID 19 situation?

    • Rudra,
      I do not see any other choices for you, other than filing another extension. You need to clearly submit a letter indicating situation with COVID and then file it under special situations. Do it before the I-94 expires immediately…

  10. Hi, it’s a situation no one predicted being part of COVID-19. I had travelled to india on vacation during the lockdown and am now stuck in India.

    Could you please advice:
    a) Can I work from India till International Flights take off?
    b) Can I take a vacation from work – but not get paid – I already finished off all my vacation time.

    • Sudhir,
      1. You can, if your employer allows it. Your visa rules wont apply in India as you are not in US.
      2. You can do whatever you like, you do not have to maintain status or under any US visa restrictions.

  11. I filed for H4 and H4 EAD on March 20, along with H1B in Non premium processing.
    H1b got approved last week.
    For H4 and H4 EAD, I got mail that my application was received. But since then i don’t see any update on the application status.

    What are the estimated time frame for H4 and H4EAD during this time?
    Any news on bio-metric processing for h4 applications?
    Appreciate any information you can provide.

    • Spence,
      No one knows. It is very hard to know the timelines now…No Biometrics are taken at the moment due to COVID. Many are stuck. There are lawsuits in place, hope USCIS will do something.

      • Hey mr kumar i have some question again About traveling
        i have an issued F2A visa type us
        expire date is july 26 so
        can i travel june 20 befor expird the visa?

        • Robel,
          As long as the visa is valid on the day you enter US, you are fine to enter US. You need to have relevant documents supporting the same and plans on how your stay would work after July 26th. At port of entry, they would ask for that info.

  12. Hi,

    My OPT stem extension expires on May 14, 2020. My wife is pregnant and we are expecting our child around last week of May. At present it is difficult to return to India. My question is can we apply for a temporary extension, if yes then what are our options?

    Thank you

    • Rahul,
      Yes, you can. File for B2 COS and put in your extreme situation explanation. It will be classified as special situation.

      • Can I apply for OPT EAD extension (temporary) as I will not be able to work on B2? It will difficult to support family on B2.

        • Rahul,
          I am not sure, if you would get OPT beyond your time. If you were to be studying, you may have applied to work off campus under extreme situations….I doubt it with your case…You may talk to attorney or DSO, but I believe, you cannot as may not be eligible for it.

  13. Hello !

    My H1b is maxing out on 06/10 – I did not filed my I-140 .Due to the current situation, If I cannot travel to India . What are my options to stay in USA?

    • Hi,

      My H1B extension is filed by employer but h4 extension is not applied as my dependent was supposed to travel back to india by April. Now h4 visa is getting expired by May and my dependent is unable to travel back to india because of covid19 and lockdown. What is the process in case if it leads to overstay?

      • Saraa,
        Nothing to worry, just make sure you apply for her H4 Extension before her I-94 expires in May, it will be fine. You can apply on your own, no need to work with employer. Use I-539 form

    • My husband applied for a COS from L1 to H1B in April (not cap-exempt) along with my H4. Our receipt date is June 1st. Not premium processed because our current L visas are valid until next year, and there was no business need to premium process.

      I haven’t received an update on my biometrics yet so I called USCIS today. Here is what I learned –

      1. The call center has been asked to wait 90 days from the date that the local ASC (where biometrics is done) reopened (July 20th in my case) to investigate the delay in scheduling a biometrics appointment for an applicant.
      2. They are able to check the biometrics appointment queue (or something like that) and tell us if our application has been added to the queue. So, I was informed that my application is in the biometrics queue as of Sept 1st and I will likely get an appointment letter soon. They are unable to tell us when the appointment will be.
      3. They have a list of reasons that are considered valid enough to request for expediting the biometrics appointment date. This is not published on the website. I don’t have the full list but it included things like some naturalization urgency, dependent turning 21, severe medical issues that require urgent case resolution etc.

      I’ve requested for my biometrics appointment to be expedited for medical reasons – i.e severe medical issues that require urgent case resolution. I will have an update in 5 working days – request for more info, approval or denial.

  14. Hi Kumar,

    I’m traveling in US nearly 4,5 months ago a got approved I-140 in April.
    Now can I extend I-94 for my B2 visa during pandemic?

    • jackus,
      If you cannot leave the country, then you file I-539 for B2 extension under extreme situations. You cannot just extend I-94, you probably need to apply for B2. Discuss with an attorney to be sure…

  15. Hi,

    My H1B max out is Aug-20 and my labor certification is pending since Jan 2020. Given the current situations what are the options I have. Does 240 days extension applicable for H1B max out also?

    • Girish,
      You need to discuss with your attorney on this. The 240 days may not apply to you as you exceed your max out date also plays a part.

      • I am trying to understand how this new 240 day rule is different from existing 240 day rule. When my attorney had applied for extension a day before H1 b max out expiry date on last day of sep 2019 on basis of my approved I140, I was assured by attorney that due to then existing 240 rule my stay is legal. Regardless my rfe was denied even after sending detailed responses twice and I had to leave States on 12 March,2020.

          • The recent interview appointment date is now showing as October VS. . Feb 2021. Is there a separate discussion in this forum to followup on the latest updates about interview appointment scheduling. Plus I have already exhausted my 2 of the 3 rescheduling attempts allowed. Will there be a waiver on number of attempts due to random back and forth in appoint dates?How can we urge the concerned parties to open up realistic dates VS. Picking and choosing random dates and then system throwing error that you have exhausted our 3 allowed attempts.

          • Padma,
            I wish I had an answer, try to call them and ask for options. So far, they have not given any official news on this option.

  16. Hi all,

    My friend H1 got approved and COS got denied on March 5th and received official notice on March 15th. As he is in CPT before that.

    As soon as he hears COS denial he reached back to his university to activate his SEVIS back and they did.

    What are his options now ? He wanted to travel to india for stamping but situations are not allowing him to do that.
    Please suggest.


    • Ram,
      Well, this is tricky situation. The reality is that USCIS believes that your stay is illegal with Day 1 CPT. The better thing to do is apply for COS to B2 and then fly out when you can and get stamping done. Discuss with your attorney on this and take informed decision.

  17. My H1B extension got denied to RFE for speciality occupation. Due to covid19 and lockdown situation i can’t travel back. Can i file again for extension to my H1b for consular processing while living in USA and could you please guide me if there is any other option for extending the h1b visa while staying in USA according to the current situation.

    • bikash,
      Yes, you can do that.
      You should also apply for B2 COS to be able to stay in the country. Put in explanation on why you cannot leave and also proof of the same.

  18. My 6 year Max out is September 2020, I am switching to empl B now so that they can apply for GC process.
    1) As the premium process is stopped not sure when the transfer will complete so can we apply for extension before Max out day for additional 240 days ? If yes when we need to apply ? After transfer is completed to employer B ?

    • Anil,
      If you have not started GC process, it would not help. If your max out date is Sep 2020, you should have something by then…Discuss with an attorney on this and get clarified.

  19. I was traveling to India and my h1b is valid till jun 15.
    I was expecting to travel back on 31st March.
    My company filed for extension and I got RFE on March 7th.
    I am not sure about how long the travel ban will be for.
    What if I am not able to travel back before Jun 15th.

    • SSanghi,
      You can stay as long as your H1B is in process within the country. You need to maintain H1B status, you do not need valid stamp to be in the country.

  20. Hi, I lost the job in Feb 2020 from employer A and on grace period from that time. I have valid I94 for 2 more years from employer A. Today the grace period I used is 45 days and I have 15 days left. In March 2020 employer B has filed my H1B transfer in premium processing and I got RFE on April 2nd 2020. I need to join Employer B on March 23rd, but they postponed the joining date to April 27th due to the customer who kept the hiring on hold. If I join employer B on April 27th, then I will be out of my 60 days grace period. In the current situation I cannot go to India also because of COVID-19.

    1) Can I join employer B after 60 days grace period?
    2) In the current situation as I cannot travel to India before the 60 days grace period, what should I do?

    Can I stay

    • Shravan,
      1. Well, technically you are supposed to join them before 60 days and then get on payroll to be in proper status.
      2. Talk to your company and see, if they can let you join, explain them the 60 days rule.
      Discuss with attorney as well and plan out your options.

  21. 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?

    • 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.

      • Kumar

        Any update based on April 14 USCIS news? I see some graces period but not very sure about the cases it’s applicable to. Can h4 ead holder continue to work if they ead renewal is pending( H1b approved, h4 approval is pending)?

        • Krishna,
          Nothing has changed for H4 EAD holders. You cannot work with pending EAD application. There is nothing new that was given by USCIS, except for Visa Waiver program. The above article has all updates.

          • How about h4 ? H4 i797 valid upto July and applied for extension eith H1b, and h4 ead. H1b approved. H4 biometrics not done due to lockdown. Can h4 stay beyond July?

    • Hi Ramyalakshmi , Any update on your case? our H4 EAD getting expired in June end and similar case. H1b Approved.

      Hi Kumar, Anyone in same situation or getting expired in April/May. Not sure how are they going to resolve this? Need to leave job and wait for EAD approval card?

  22. 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?


  23. 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.

  24. 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!

  25. 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.


    • 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.

  26. 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?

  27. 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.

  28. 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?

  29. 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.

    • 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.

  30. 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?

    • 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.

  31. 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?

    Raj 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.

      • 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,
          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.

  32. 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?


    My 240 days expires on August 27 2020

    • 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.

  33. 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.


  34. 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

    • 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.

        • 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

          • 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 ?

          • 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)

          • 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.

  35. 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

    • 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.

  36. 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

    • 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…

  37. 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?

    • 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.

      • 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 ?

        • 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.

  38. 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.


  39. 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?

    • 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…

  40. 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.

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

    • 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….

      • 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.

        • 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.

  41. 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?


    • 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.

  42. 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 ?

      • 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.

        • 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.

  43. 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.

      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.

      • 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.

  44. 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?

  45. 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?

    • 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…

  46. 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

    • 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.

  47. Hi Kumar,

    Do you have any updates on US embessy operations in India for applications that are refused under 221g ?

  48. 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.

    • 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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