COVID-19 and U.S. Immigration Updates: Considerations for Those Who May Be Stuck Abroad or Can’t Make a Scheduled Appointment
The United States is now under a national emergency due to the COVID-19 epidemic. While USCIS remains open and is accepting all mail at the time of writing, it has canceled all in-person appointments, including interviews, biometrics and InfoPass appointments, through April 7, 2020. All appointments will be automatically rescheduled by USCIS when possible.
While all appointments are canceled through April 7, 2020, the closures may continue beyond this date. Track USCIS closures here.
Those with USCIS in-person appointments scheduled for March and April 2020 may check the website for closures before attending the appointment. If the location is not closed, but you cannot attend the appointment because you are sick or cannot travel back to the U.S., you may reschedule the appointment with USCIS using the instructions found on the notice.
Green card holders who are abroad and cannot currently travel back to the United States due to the COVID-19 epidemic may consider keeping evidence of U.S. ties for re-entry. As a green card holder, absences of more than 180 days to one year may create a presumption that you have abandoned your permanent resident status. This could lead to questioning at the border upon reentry to the United States. Therefore, you can carry evidence with you that you could not travel back to the United States due to the COVID-19 epidemic, as well as evidence that you have maintained ties to the United States, for example:
Maintain a residence in the U.S. This can be through the ownership of a home or renting an apartment.
Maintain bank accounts, credit cards and investments in the U.S. to show financial ties.
Maintain insurance in the U.S., including home, health, and life insurance.
File U.S. tax returns.
Having utilities in the permanent resident’s name also helps, as does a driver’s license and car ownership.
Be prepared for questioning at the border, and be prepared to explain why you could not travel back to the U.S. in a timely manner. See the USCIS website page on maintaining your permanent resident status.
After returning to the United States, those permanent residents who anticipate having to stay abroad for extended periods of an aggregate of 180 days or more may consider applying for a reentry permit. An application for a reentry permit only can be done while physically present in the U.S., as reentry permit applications cannot be filed while abroad.