On March 18, 2020, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) closed its Field Offices for in-person services due to COVID-19. This has resulted in processing delays for applicants with pending applications for adjustment of status (lawful permanent residency / “green card”) and naturalization (U.S. citizenship) which require in-person interviews.
In early June, USCIS Field Offices around the United States began reopening for limited services including “drive-up” naturalization oath ceremonies.
The USCIS Denver Field Office, located in Centennial, Colorado has begun scheduling both Naturalization Oath Ceremonies and interviews on pending N-400 Naturalization applications.
At this time, the Denver Field Office has not announced when it will begin conducting interviews on adjustment of status applications,
The Denver Field Office will adhere to new, strict protocols in order to protect immigrants and USCIS officers and staff from COVID19.
Specifically, applicants scheduled for interview at the Denver Field Office must:
- Wear appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) including a mask that covers mouth and nose;
- Bring their own black or blue pen;
- Bring the cell phone associated with the telephone number on their N-400 Application;
- Enter the USCIS Denver Field Office parking lot at the designated entrance, while wearing required mask;
- Upon entering the parking Lot, present their N-400 Interview Notice and Lawful Permanent Residence (LPR) Card;
- Await instruction from USCIS officers in the parking lot before exiting their vehicle and entering the Denver Field Office;
- Once inside the building, maintain appropriate social distancing (6 feet apart);
- Absent extenuating circumstances, such as a disability requiring the support of another person, Applicants may not bring any additional people with them to the interview (e.g., children, spouses).
The vast majority of Naturalization applicants will complete their interviews in English. However, applicants who are exempt from the English language requirement and require an interpreter must arrange for their interpreter to appear by telephone.
If applicants are represented by legal counsel, USCIS encourages counsel to appear by telephone. USCIS has indicated that the USCIS officer will call the applicant’s attorney at the telephone number listed on the Form G-28 (Notice of Entry of Appearance of Legal Representative). Attorneys will be permitted to attend Naturalization interviews in person as well, although USCIS is encouraging telephonic appearance to limit the number of people in the building.
Because access to legal counsel during the Naturalization process is essential, we call on the USCIS Denver Field Office to ensure that all of its adjudicating officers honor and respect the right to counsel and ensure that counsel is called prior to the commencement of the Naturalization examination process in each case.
Importantly, a Naturalization applicant who receives an interview notice who meets any of the following criteria should call the USCIS Contact Center (1-800-375-5283) to reschedule their Naturalization interview:
- Applicant is ill;
- Applicant has symptoms of illness;
- Applicant has traveled outside the United States or had contact with someone who has traveled outside the United States within the past 2 weeks;
- Applicant has had contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 within the past 2 weeks;
- Applicant is at heightened risk due to age or underlying health condition.
We are concerned that applicants who are unable to appear for their interview due to health concerns could have their cases denied by USCIS for failure to appear at their scheduled interview. Therefore, it is essential that applicants who need to reschedule their Naturalization interviews document (to the extent possible) their communications and correspondence with USCIS, including requesting the USCIS Contact Center Officer’s name and a Service Request number associated with any reschedule requests.
In addition to contacting the USCIS Contact Center, Applicants can also consider sending a letter via mail directly to the USCIS Denver Field Office requesting rescheduling of their interview.
If you have questions regarding the reopening of USCIS Field Offices, Naturalization or other immigration matters, please contact Kolko & Casey, P.C.