Pacific Northwest Cross Border Law remains fully operational. I have access to files, and the continued capacity to correspond by e-mail, telephone, fax, and traditional mail. Most of my firm’s operations have shifted to a temporary home office, a five-minute commute from the firm’s commercial space.
Many US immigration agencies have closed their offices, however, some services remain available. As of this writing, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has suspended routine in-person services until May 4, 2020, but continues to perform duties that do not involve contact with the public. Similarly, all US consulates have suspended routine visa services, but can provide services for emergency travel and US citizens. While the border remains closed to “non-essential” travel such as tourism, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is continuing to adjudicate work authorization applications for essential executives, managers, and TN professionals. CBP is not currently accepting fingerprints and photographs in connection with waiver applications, and offices for Trusted Traveler programs such as Nexus remain closed.
People who are in the United States, may need to begin considering options for maintaining lawful status. Visitors may be able to request an extension of status by filing Form I-539 with US Citizenship and Immigration Services. Similarly, people who are in work-authorized status may be able to request an extension of status by filing From I-129 with USCIS. All requests for immigration benefits must be accompanied by supporting evidence and the appropriate agency filing fees.
As a result of agency office closures caused by COVID-19 pending cases will likely be delayed. At this time the length of the delay is unknown. As soon as the various US immigration agencies decide to re-open their offices I expect to receive correspondence confirming the procedures for re-opening. Options for US employment authorization may still be available for some essential business people. Lastly, procedures are in place for people’s whose status will expire within the next several weeks to request an extension of status or similar relief.