What happens to my immigration case during the Coronavirus (COVID-19)?

Last Updated: Friday, August 14, 2020 

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)

On April 24, 2020, USCIS announced that they were extending their temporary closure date until June 3, 2020. As of  June 4, 2020, USCIS is open to continue with interviews and to allow visits to their immigration offices.

USCIS is the immigration office that reviews applications of those seeking their U.S legal permanent residence card (also known as a “green card”) via a family petition, U-Visa, VAWA, Asylum or U.S citizenship. Typically, they hold in person interviews and exams with the applicant in order to determine if they will obtain their U.S legal permanent residence card or U.S citizenship.

Due to the outbreak of the Coronavirus, USCIS announced on March 18, 2020 that they cancelled all interviews and visits to the USCIS immigration offices to protect everyone’s health and safety. Previously, they had announced that they would temporarily close until April 1, 2020 but then they extended their date to June 3, 2020. As of June 4, 2020, USCIS immigration offices have opened for interviews and office visits.

You may ask yourself, “well what does that mean for my immigration case?” “Is it on pause or on hold during the pandemic of the Coronavirus?” To answer this question, no, your case is not put on hold during the pandemic of the Coronavirus. Immigration officers are still working and continue to review your application. Therefore, you may still continue working with your attorney to submit your application and if you don’t have an attorney and would like to begin an immigration case, please don’t hesitate and contact one of our Franco Law Group attorneys at 213.200.1505.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

 

How long does it take to apply for a U.S Residency application (green card)?

The processing time once submitted to the United States Citizenship and Immigrations Services Department (USCIS) depends on the field office or service center that receives your residency application.

To check current processing times for residency (green card) applications please visit https://egov.uscis.gov/processing-times/.

You will need the following:

  1. Case Type (Ex., I-485, I-130, I-90, etc.)
  2. Field Office or Service Center (located on your receipt from immigration)
 How long does it take to receive a decision for my U-Visa?

Currently it takes about 5 years to receive a decision. As of today, August 14, 2020, USCIS service centers in Nebraska and Vermont are reviewing U-Visa applications submitted on December 10, 2015.

To check current processing times for your U-Visa application please visit https://egov.uscis.gov/processing-times/.

How long does it take to apply for U.S Citizenship?

The processing time once submitted to the United States Citizenship and Immigrations Services Department (USCIS) depends on the field office that receives your naturalization/citizenship application.

For example, as of today, August 14, 2020, the processing time for the Los Angeles field office ranges from 12.5 to 18.5 months. The Los Angeles County field office ranges from 13 to 16 months.

To check current processing times for naturalization/citizenship applications please visit https://egov.uscis.gov/processing-times/.

 

USCIS Resources

Using the following links you are able to:

Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) aka “Immigration Court”

On March 13, 2020 the Executive Office for Immigration Review in Los Angeles (also known as the “Immigration Court”) announced that they would be postponing all Master hearings as a result of the breakout of the Coronavirus. A master hearing is a preliminary hearing where you present your immigration case before an immigration judge.

Later on March 18, 2020 the Executive Office for Immigration Review also postponed all non-detained hearings. Therefore, the only hearings that are still scheduled are for those that are detained and are presenting a case before an immigration judge in order to fight for the right to stay in the United States.

Now, if you have a case that you are fighting before the Immigration Court you may wonder if your case is put on hold due to the Coronavirus pandemic and the answer is no. Your case is still active and still being reviewed. Therefore, you should continue working with your attorney to meet any deadlines you may have to submit documents and continue working to move your case forward. If you don’t have an attorney we have an experienced team of attorneys that can help. You may contact us by commenting below or calling our office at 213.200.1505.

As of now, the Executive Office for Immigration Review is not set to open until August 24, 2020. Therefore, any hearings after August 21, 2020 are still scheduled until further notice.

Any filings due during a court closure should be filed. Filing deadlines after March 30, 2020 remain in effect subject to the discretion of the immigration judge. There is no requirement that documents be filed in person. For all courts, parties are encouraged to file by mail or by ECAS where available (EOIR).

Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP)

If you are an asylum seeker in Mexico and you have a case pending under the MPP program, please know that currently all hearings presently scheduled through April 22 will be rescheduled. Any individual with an MPP hearing date through April 22 should present themselves at their designated port of entry on their previously scheduled date to receive a tear sheet and hearing notice containing their new hearing dates. The Board of Immigration Appeals are still reviewing immigration cases.

 

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    New Immigration Court in Van Nuys

    Update

    As of September 11, 2020 the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) in Van Nuys also knows as the Immigration Court announced that all non-detained hearings designated as a “Master” will remain suspended until further notice.

    However, EOIR in Van Nuys will be moving forward with non-detained hearings designated as a “Merits.”

    Please make sure to communicate with your attorney to continue moving your case forward. If you don’t have legal representation you may contact us at 213.200.1505 to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys to further discuss your case and receive quality legal advice.


    On Monday, December 9, 2019, the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) also knows as the Immigration Court opened another location in the city of Van Nuys. According to the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), “the Van Nuys immigration court will serve cases from Kern, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and Ventura counties, and parts of the Los Angeles County.” It is very important to check the location of your next immigration court hearing to find out if your hearing has been moved to Van Nuys. We do not want anyone to be affected by missing their immigration court hearing due to this change. To check the location of your next immigration court hearing please call the Automated EOIR System at 1-800-898-7180.

    Yesterday, December 12, 2019 we had the opportunity to visit the immigration courthouse. As of now, there are 6 courtrooms at the new Van Nuys immigration court. The following courtrooms are assigned to the following judges: courtroom #3 is assigned to The Honorable Tara Naselow-Nahas, courtroom #5 is assigned to The Honorable David Burke and courtroom #6 is assigned to The Honorable Carlos Maury.

    Please find below the information for the Van Nuys Immigration Court:

    LOCATION: 6230 Van Nuys Blvd. 3rd Floor, Suite 300
    Van Nuys, CA 91401
    HOURS OF OPERATION: 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday
    TELEPHONE: 818-904-5200

    If you have an immigration hearing coming up in Van Nuys please seek the advice of an experienced immigration attorney now!

    To read AILA’s official notice please visit: https://www.aila.org/infonet/eoir-to-open-new-immigration-court-in-los-angeles

    I have been ordered to appear in immigration court; what’s going to happen to me?

    NEWSLETTER – June 2017

     

    Written By Attorney Sergio A. Perez of the Franco Law Group, APLC.

     

    I have been ordered to appear in immigration court; what’s going to happen to me?

    Immigrants in the United States face many circumstances that other people will never encounter. This often includes being ordered to appear in immigration court.  Understandably, receiving such an order can cause a great deal of anxiety for immigrants and their families due to their lack of knowledge as to what will happen at their hearing.  Having some familiarity with the immigration court process may serve to alleviate an already stressful situation.

    What is going to happen at my first hearing?

    The first thing to know about appearing in immigration court is what will likely not happen at your first hearing.  First, it is highly unlikely that you will be apprehended at the immigration court by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, at your first hearing.  Second, it is also highly unlikely that you will be ordered deported at your first hearing.

    Can I have an attorney with me at my immigration court hearing?

    By law, persons in immigration court have the right to be represented by an attorney of their choosing.  However, unlike criminal court, the government is not obligated to pay for an immigrant’s attorney. This means that the immigrant must pay for her attorney, or hire an attorney who will represent her free of charge.  Normally, at the first hearing an immigrant may request time to find an attorney, and immigration judges will usually grant that extension.  However, if you do not hire an attorney, the immigration judge will eventually proceed with your case and you will have to represent yourself.

    Who is going to be in the court besides me?

    It is also helpful to know who will be present in the immigration court during your hearing.  First, there will be an immigration judge wearing a black judge’s robe and seated on the judge’s bench.  Second, and most importantly, you will be present at the hearing seated at a table in front of the judge.  If you have an attorney, she will be seated next to you.  At another table will be an attorney for the Department of Homeland Security, or DHS, whose role is to represent the government.  Also present will be an interpreter who speaks your native language if you do not speak English.  Lastly, the immigration court is technically open to the public and there are benches in the back of the courtroom for observers.  However, in reality, the persons seated on those benches will likely be other immigrants and their attorneys waiting for their cases to be called by the judge.

    Then what will happen?

    Once you and your attorney are seated at the courtroom table, the judge will introduce the case on the record by stating your name and case number.  She will then ask you to state your name and address for the record.  The judge will also ask the attorneys to identify themselves for the record.  Then, the judge will usually ask your attorney to respond to the charges made against you, which will differ for each individual.  Your attorney will also be asked to identify what immigration relief you will be seeking from the judge.

    A typical immigration court case requires about four court hearings.  Also, hearings are usually scheduled several months apart. Thus, depending on the particular court at which you have to appear, an immigration court case may take anywhere

    from one to three years to be completed.

    What is most important to know regarding any immigration court hearing you have scheduled is that you must appear, even if you do not have an attorney.  Also, you must appear even if you do have an attorney.  Indeed, your attorney cannot appear for you; you also have to be present before the judge.  Unfortunately, an immigrant’s failure to appear at any hearing will result in an automatic order of removal.

    The type of relief for which you are eligible from the immigration court depends on the specific facts of your case.  Also, the procedures and case length differs for individuals who are in ICE detention.  As such, immigrants who have been ordered to appear in immigration court are highly encouraged to speak with an experienced immigration attorney in order to evaluate the specific facts of your case and your relief options.  The attorneys of the Franco Law Group, APLC are available to provide you with a consultation. Please contact our office to schedule an appointment with one of our attorneys at (619) 955-2024.