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GoffWilson: A Helpful Hand in Uncertain Times

3/24/2020
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COVID-19 (also known as the coronavirus) has upended the lives of millions of people in the U.S. and across the world—affecting everything from schools to sports. Even Tax Day has been pushed back. Like other government services, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) has made changes to normal operating procedures in response to COVID-19, and there is a high probability we’ll see more in the coming days and weeks. We’re here to help by providing the information you need.  
 
In times of uncertainty like these—with dates, policies, and regulations in flux—we expect everyone has a lot of questions. We’re deeply committed to keeping everyone updated with the latest immigration happenings through our Blawg, or directly via phone and email. With that in mind, here are a few recent USCIS changes to be aware of.
 
Temporary Suspension of Premium Processing for All I-129 and I-140 Petitions  
 
Effective as of March 20, USCIS has suspended premium processing service for all Form I-129 and I-140 petitions until further notice. This suspension includes petitions filed for the following categories:
 
  • I-129: E-1, E-2, H-1B, H-2B, H-3, L-1A, L-1B, LZ, O-1, O-2, P-1, P-1S, P-2, P-2S, P-3, P-3S, Q-1, R-1, TN-1, and TN-2
  • I-140: EB-1, EB-2, and EB-3
 
Any applications submitted to USCIS for premium processing that were accepted before March 20 will get processed within the premium processing service criteria. Applications received on March 20 or later will not get processed within the 15-calendar-day period and the $1,440 filing fee will get refunded. As of this writing, USCIS has not yet confirmed when premium processing for I-129 and I-140 petitions will resume. 
 
Flexibility in Submitting Required Signatures
 
Another change to normal USCIS protocol is that for all petitions dated March 21, 2020, and beyond, a reproduced original signature is acceptable for all applications and documents—this includes forms that require an original “wet” signature, per their instructions (such as Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker). The change in signature policy will last for the duration of the National Emergency.
 
According to the announcement, USCIS will accept documents that have been “scanned, faxed, photocopied, or similarly reproduced provided that the copy must be of an original document containing an original handwritten signature.” Note, it’s vital to retain copies of the original documents with “wet” signatures, as USCIS may later request the original documents. Failure to produce the original documents with “wet” signatures could have negative consequences. 
 
GoffWilson Immigration Law
 
At GoffWilson we like to say, “immigration isn’t just what we do, it’s our passion”—and in unsettled times, we want to provide a steadying hand to the immigrant community, along with the businesses dependent on their contributions. We are a resource, so please reach out if you need help.
Filed under:Immigration Law