In a move to “help slow the spread of Coronavirus Disease,” U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is temporarily closing all offices to the public and canceling in-person asylum and naturalization interviews.
USCIS — the agency under the Department of Homeland Security that is responsible for managing the country’s legal immigration system — is suspending in-person services at its field offices across the country, including interviews and naturalization ceremonies.
The temporary suspension began Wednesday and is scheduled to last until at least April 1.
“USCIS will provide further updates as the situation develops and will continue to follow CDC guidance,” the agency said in a press release.
The agency is ceasing all asylum and other interviews at its offices, and will not conduct fingerprinting at its Application Support Centers. USCIS added that it will still provide “limited emergency services,” but it’s not immediately clear what constitutes an emergency service.
While the decision creates a major impact on foreign nationals applying for naturalization or are in need of other immigration-related services, the agency made clear that their interviews will be rescheduled for a later date.
“USCIS field offices will send notices to applicants and petitioners with scheduled appointments and naturalization ceremonies impacted by this closure,” the press release noted. “USCIS asylum offices will send interview cancellation notices and automatically reschedule asylum interviews.” (RELATED: Immigration Hearings Across US Postponed Amid Coronavirus Panic)
The decision to suspend USCIS public services is one of the latest moves to combat the spread of COVID-19. As of Wednesday, roughly 6,000 individuals in the United States tested positive for the virus and more than 100 have died from coronavirus-related illnesses.
The Trump administration suspended flights from most European countries, is closing down the U.S.-Canada border to all non-essential travel, and is actively considering turning away all illegal aliens at the U.S.-Mexico border.
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