The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced several updates related to the processing of visa applications in response to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak and which may be of interest to CWC members.
First, USCIS is suspending the processing of Form I-907 “premium processing” applications for all I-129 (used for H-1B visas) and I-140 petitions until further notice. The agency will continue to process petitions with previously accepted Form I-907s, however, petitioners who don’t receive agency action on their case within 15 calendar days or whose I-907s were mailed but have not yet been accepted as of March 20 will receive a refund of the $1,440 filing fee. USCIS will notify the public when it plans to resume premium processing.
Second, USCIS has announced that those responding to requests for evidence (RFEs) and notices of intent to deny (NOIDs) which are dated between March 1 and May 1, 2020 will have an extra 60 days from the deadline contained in those RFEs and NOIDs by which to submit their responses.
Lastly, the agency announced that it would “accept all benefit forms and documents with reproduced original signatures” for the duration of the COVID-19 national emergency. For example, the submission of many agency forms must normally contain original “wet” signatures. Under the new guidance, all USCIS forms may contain photocopied or similarly reproduced signatures so long as the reproduction is derived from an actual original signature (no copies of copies) and the original versions are maintained by the individual or entity and available at the request of USCIS.