USCIS Extends Flexibilities Related to the COVID-19 Pandemic04 Aug 2022
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced two accommodations being made related to the COVID-19 pandemic. First, the USCIS again has extended the response time flexibility, initially announced on March 20, 2020. Second, the USCIS has made permanent the policy that allows all benefit forms and documents to be submitted with reproduced original signatures.
Response Time Flexibility
The USCIS has extended the response time flexibility for a variety of request types and notices. This flexibility applies to applicants and petitioners responding to any of the following, issued from March 1, 2020, through October 23, 2022:
- Requests for evidence (RFEs)
- Continuations to request evidence (N-14)
- Notices of Intent to Deny (NOIDs)
- Notices of Intent to Revoke (NOIRs)
- Notices of Intent to Rescind
- Notices of Intent to Terminate regional investment centers
- Motions to Reopen an N-400 Pursuant to 8 CFR 335.5, Receipt of Derogatory Information After Grant
The USCIS will consider a response to the above requests and notices received within 60 calendar days after the response due date set in the request or notice before making a final decision on the case.
In addition, the USCIS will consider a Form I-290B, Notice of Appeal or Motion, or Form N-336, Request for a Hearing on a Decision in Naturalization Proceedings (Under Section 336 of the INA), if both of these criteria are met:
- The form was filed up to 90 calendar days from the issuance of a decision
- The USCIS made that decision between November 1, 2021, and October 23, 2022, inclusive.
The USCIS will consider a form I-290B received up to 90 calendar days from the date of the decision before it takes any action.
Allowing Reproduced Original Signatures Permanently
The USCIS has made permanent a policy, which was initially implemented as a temporary measure on March 21, 2020, to accept reproduced original signatures for all benefit forms and documents. As explained by the USCIS when the policy was initially announced, “[t]his means that a document may be scanned, faxed, photocopied, or similarly reproduced provided that the copy must be of an original document containing an original handwritten signature, unless otherwise specified.” This includes forms that normally must be submitted with an original, or “wet,” signature, such as form I-129. The USCIS further cautions that, if a document with a reproduced signature is submitted, the USCIS could later request the document with the original signature.
Given that the COVID-19 pandemic is still impacting many aspects of daily life, it is encouraging that the USCIS has extended these flexibilities. Moreover, making permanent the policy to allow for reproduced signatures is a small, but important step toward bringing the agency into the 21st century.
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