HARLINGEN, Texas – The USCIS has temporarily suspended immigration court hearings in efforts to stop the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
All court hearings will be delayed until May 3rd.
This has raised concerns for many with scheduled court hearing during the period.
“Already, before COVID-19 we were experiencing delays on the green cards so people that were renewing their green cards sometimes they would take six months to almost a year to be able to get their renewal,” said Immigration Attorney Norma Sepulveda during a remote interview with CBS 4.
“We’ve got a lot of applications that were pending for interview and then USCIS canceled because of what’s going on.”
Sepulveda says while court hearings are closed, the agency continues to operate.
For those in need to renew documents its recommended to submit their application.
“Because of that their work authorizations are expired they can go ahead and renew the application. Once they renew the application and they have that receipt they can show proof that they get the automatic six-month extension,” she says.
Most employment authorization cards are valid for 180 days after their expiration dates.
However, each cardholder should confirm the extension by looking at the category listed on their card to the list available on the USCIS website or can contact their immigration attorney.
“USCIS is still working we receive correspondence from them everyday regarding cases as is courts. They may be closed to the public but they are continuing to work so everything with immigration is
moving forward and they need to be able to be in contact to make sure they haven’t missed any correspondence in the mail.,” Sepulveda said.
She adds that Green Card holders do not have to worry as their cards serve as proof of their legal status in the country.
She recommends both Green Card and employment authorization recipients to renew their cards prior to the expiration date to avoid delays in the processing.
According to the USCIS website, those with scheduled interview appointments or naturalization ceremonies impacted by the closure will receive instructions with their rescheduled meeting once normal operations resume
Additionally, Sepulveda encourages the public to seek an immigration attorney for guidance on their individual case.
For more details on category extensions or further information the delays you can visit their web site for more:https://www.uscis.gov/i-9-central/42-automatic-extensions-employment-authorization-documents-eads-certain-circumstances