Attending a USCIS Interview During COVID-19 Pandemic: What to Expect

With USCIS offices reopened despite the COVID-19 pandemic, applicants should expect a similar asylum, adjustment of status, or naturalization interview to the normal one, with some procedural changes to ensure the safety of both applicants and staff.

On June 4, 2020, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) resumed in-person appointments at their offices throughout the country, after closing for several months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although USCIS office are now open, changes have been made so as to make appointments safer for staff and applicants. Below is information to prepare for your USCIS interview (for example, an interview for citizenship, adjustment of status or a green card, or asylum) during the pandemic.

Additional Things to Bring to USCIS Interview During Pandemic

Bring your USCIS interview notice and any documents that the notice tells you to bring, including the originals of the items you submitted with your application and a government-issued photo identification card.

(Also see Top Mistakes Applicants Make at Adjustment of Status Interview for a discussion of documents to bring to a green card interview, and if immigrating through a spouse, Documents to Bring to Your Marriage-Based Adjustment of Status Interview.)

In addition, make sure to bring and wear a mask that completely covers your nose and mouth. See the USCIS Visitor Policy for details on acceptable masks.

For reasons of cleanliness and to avoid germ transfer, you should also bring your own black or blue pen with which to sign documents during your interview.

Attorney Representation at USCIS Interviews During Pandemic

Your attorney, if you've hired one, will be able to accompany you to the interview. The exception is asylum interviews where, owing to the length of the interview, USCIS will keep you, your attorney, the asylum officer, and your interpreter if any, in separate rooms or at the end of a phone line, connected only via technology.

The attorney can also represent you in any USCIS interview over the phone if you prefer. In addition to attorneys, only petitioners or applicants and beneficiaries of petitions should attend the interview.

What Not to Bring to Your USCIS Interview During Pandemic

Do not attend the interview with any friend or family member who is not required to attend as a petitioner or beneficiary named on or included in your application.

If you need a foreign language interpreter, you are in most cases expected to provide your own. There's a partial exception if you're an asylum applicant; during the coronavirus pandemic, you'll need to provide your own interpreter only if your language is not one of the 47 languages listed on the "GSA Schedule."

Regardless of application type, however, you cannot bring the interpreter into the interview room with you while the pandemic is ongoing. If you're applying for asylum, expect your interpreter to be placed in a different room. All other applicants should arrange for an interpreter to be available by phone. Write the phone number down to take with you, even it it's already programmed into your phone.

What to Expect When Entering the USCIS Office

You should not try to enter the USCIS office more than 15 minutes before your interview time. A security officer should be outside of the office and will call in applicants 15 minutes before their interview time.

There might be markers outside, showing where you should wait, spaced out from other applicants. Be sure to maintain the required six feet of space between you and other applicants in any case.

Also, be sure to follow the specific instructions of the security officer, as you might not be able to enter the building if there are too many other people waiting to enter through the security line.

A bottle of sanitizer might be available, in which case you will be expected to use a squirt of it to rub onto your hands.

After you enter through security, keep moving to check in with a USCIS officer with your appointment notice. After you check in, the officer will tell you where to go to the waiting area. In the waiting area you will likely notice that seats are spaced out. Sit more than six feet away from any other people, and try to maintain this distance when moving around.

What to Expect During Your USCIS Interview

Once you are called for your interview, follow all the arrows on the floor and the instructions from the USCIS officer.

For most interview types, applicants will be brought back into a smaller office with a USCIS officer. The officer will be wearing a mask and will interview you behind a plexiglass barrier in his or her office. The officer might also leave the door open, so as to increase air circulation. That means you might expect a few distractions during your interview.

For asylum interviews, everyone will be placed in a separate room and shown how to use the communication equipment.

If You Feel Ill or Should Be Quarantined, Reschedule

If you feel unwell before your interview, or have been in contact with someone who is known or suspected to have had COVID-19 within the last 14 days, get in touch with USCIS to reschedule as soon as possible, so as to protect yourself and others. You'll find the contact information on the notice that was sent to you.

(Also see How Do I Reschedule a Naturalization (Citizenship) Interview? or or Can I Postpone My Asylum Interview?.)

You might also be asked health-related questions on the day you arrive for your interview.

USCIS offices have taken numerous safety measures to make sure they can remain open to the public for interviews during the COVID-19 pandemic. Other than these precautions, applicants should expect a similar asylum, adjustment of status, or naturalization interview process to the normal one, with some changes to ensure the safety of both applicants and staff.

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