USCIS has the power to help U.S. employers and lawfully admitted foreign nationals to extend any and all immigration-related deadlines, including expiration of status. Many doctors, nurses and healthcare workers are foreign nationals on nonimmigrant visas fighting on the front lines to save lives.
Other countries have already extended nonimmigrant visas and expiring status due to extenuating circumstances caused by COVID-19 – the U.S. needs to follow suit.
Immigration attorneys and their clients face a hazardous catch-22: choose between missing a filing deadline that could jeopardize clients or violate stay at home orders and expose themselves to a deadly virus.
On March 23, 2020, the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) sent a letter to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) calling for an immediate suspension of immigration benefit deadlines and the maintenance of status for nonimmigrants in the U.S. amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Following the letter, the AILA filed a complaint on behalf of its member against USCIS in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia seeking the necessary measures.
Many other federal agencies, such as the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), have extended deadlines to help mitigate risk without penalty. USCIS needs to extend filing deadlines so that foreign nationals lawfully present in the United States can maintain status during this pandemic. Otherwise, USCIS is imperiling the public as a whole.