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COVID-19 Updates as of October 15, 2020

Tahirih Justice Center

  • Register now for Tahirih’s October 21 2020 webinar covering COVID-19 updates, legal updates and strategies to corroborate your client’s claim.
  • Tahirih’s physical offices are closed until and all staff are working remotely until further notice. Staff continue to respond to pro bono attorneys and clients, though their response time to pro bono attorneys may be atypical.
  • Resources developed by Tahirih, including webinar resources and a Guide to Adapting Trauma-Informed Lawyering Best Practices During the COVID-19 Pandemic, use the COVID-19 tag on Tahirih’s Pro Bono e-library. 

EOIR

  • EOIR updates are available online at https://www.justice.gov/eoir/eoir-operational-status-during-coronavirus-pandemic. Be sure to verify operating status on the EOIR website. Operating status changes are posted often, and Tahirih’s list may not immediately reflect the current status of every court.
  • Register to receive e-mail updates at https://public.govdelivery.com/accounts/USDOJ/subscriber/new?preferences=true.
  • All non-detained immigration court hearings, including master calendar hearings and merits hearings, nationwide will be postponed through October 30, 2020 if they don’t have an announced re-open date. New hearing notices will be issued. Detained docket hearings will proceed. Most courts remain open for filing in person or by mail.
  • The Arlington. Baltimore, San Francisco, and Atlanta Immigration Courts have resumed hearings in non-detained cases.
  • EOIR is currently accepting digital and electronic signatures on all filings.
  • The Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) has established temporary email accounts for immigration courts nationwide to facilitate electronic filing for all parties while the rollout of the EOIR Court & Appeals System (ECAS) is delayed due to COVID-19. Those who have already opted-in to ECAS should continue to use ECAS where it is available. Others who wish to utilize electronic filing may file through email as instructed below. Temporary filing e-mail addresses will be discontinued 60 days after the re-opening of a court for non-detained hearings.
    • Please visit http://www.justice.gov/eoir/filing-email for requirements that apply to filing by email and the email address for each immigration court.
    • Please note EOIR cannot provide technical support or confirm receipt of filings at this time.
    • If you have questions, please contact the EOIR Office of Policy, Communications and Legislative Affairs Division at PAO.EOIR@usdoj.gov.
  • Deadlines for open courts remain. Tahirih recommends strongly that you comply with your original pre-hearing filing deadlines unless directed by order or specific guidance from your immigration judge.

USCIS

  • USCIS has resumed in-person appointments at field offices, ASC offices, and asylum offices. USCIS continues to exercise flexibility in rescheduling appointments if an applicant is sick.
  • USCIS will accept all benefit forms and documents with reproduced original signatures for submissions dated March 21, 2020, and beyond, until further notice. Tahirih recommends original wet signature or a scanned copy of documents signed with a wet signature. If that is not possible, please consult with your Tahirih mentor attorney or Kursten Phelps, Director of Legal and Social Services.
  • If you received or receive a Request for Evidence (RFE) or Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID), or wish to file an I-290B for a denial dated between March 1 and January 1, 2021, any responses or I-290s submitted within 60 calendar days after the response deadline set forth in the notice or decision will be considered by USCIS before any action is taken.
  • To monitor USCIS updates, see: https://www.uscis.gov/about-us/uscis-response-coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19

DHS/ERO

  • ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations updates are available online at: https://www.ice.gov/covid19.  As of March 18, ICE ERO will focus enforcement on public-safety risks and individuals subject to mandatory detention based on criminal grounds. For those individuals who do not fall into those categories, ERO will exercise discretion to delay enforcement actions until after the crisis or user alternatives to detention, as appropriate.
  • In-person check ins vary by jurisdiction. Please contact your local ERO office.

State Department

  • The Department of State has resumed visa services and processing on a post-by-post basis.
  • Applicants with an urgent matter and need to travel immediately should follow the guidance provided at the Embassy’s website to request an emergency appointment.

Border

  • The CDC extended its border-closing order indefinitely.
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