Post-Pandemic Stage Brings an End to USCIS Deadline Flexibilities -

Post-pandemic stage brings an end to USCIS deadline flexibilities Staff

By Anayat Durrani

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced that previous COVID-19 flexibilities that started at the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020, have now come to an end on March 23, 2023. This includes Requests for Evidence (RFEs) and Notices of Intent to Deny (NOIDs).

“The end of the pandemic-related time extensions was something that attorneys and their clients have expected for some time now,” says Dennis Tristani, Esq., Tristani Law, LLC. “The additional time was particularly helpful for difficult project-based or source of funds-based Notices of Intent to Deny which have a very short turnaround time.”

With the previously announced extension in January 2023, the agency said the extension would be the final extension of these accommodations. 

In the agency’s most recent announcement, it said that notices or requests from USCIS that are dated after March 23, 2023 are now to be responded to by their listed deadlines for: Requests for Evidence; Continuations to Request Evidence (N-14); Notices of Intent to Deny; Notices of Intent to Revoke; Notices of Intent to Rescind; Notices of Intent to Terminate regional centers; Notices of Intent to Withdraw Temporary Protected Status; and Motions to Reopen an N-400 Pursuant to 8 CFR 335.5, Receipt of Derogatory Information After Grant. Previously the deadline was 60 days.

This also applies to those filing Form I-290B, Notice of Appeal or Motion, or Form N-336, Request for a Hearing on a Decision in Naturalization Proceedings. The deadline will no longer be 90 days and will now return to the date given in the form instructions.

Tristani says it is common for USCIS requests to arrive a few days, and sometimes weeks, after the notice was issued. He says this can be especially difficult for Notices of Intent to Deny since it cuts the response time in half “and USCIS will not formally provide an extension to a deadline even if their notice was not timely mailed to the petitioner.”

The agency said it may provide certain flexibilities for applicants and petitioners on a case-by-case basis upon request only for instances of an emergency or unforeseen circumstance, such as natural disaster, or national emergency or severe illness, including COVID.

The agency said flexibilities announced on March 20, 2020 regarding reproduced original signatures—an accommodation that came out of the pandemic—became permanent policy per a July 25, 2022 announcement.

Aftermath of the pandemic for EB-5

Like much of the world that shuttered to a close, in March 2020, the USCIS shut down offices nationwide, cancelled visa appointments, and U.S. embassies and consulates abroad suspended routine visa services. The effects of the pandemic along with the June 2021 lapse of the EB-5 Regional Center program, when its congressional authorization expired, were greatly felt in the EB-5 industry. Massive interruptions to consular processing of EB-5 immigrant visas abroad were the norm.

“There are still some U.S. embassies with “Covid-related” backlogs three years after the pandemic began,” says Tristani. “Some consulates have stopped processing certain visa cases altogether, prompting foreign nationals to file mandamus lawsuits to force the U.S. Department of State to reopen visa divisions and move cases forward.”

Tristani says the economic fallout from the pandemic caused some EB-5 projects to go through difficult financial times, which in turn has made some investors have to deal with significant delays in the repayment of their EB-5 investment principal.

However, Tristani says with the passage of the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act of 2022, the USCIS has resumed processing of Regional Center-based I-526 petitions and most U.S. consulates have resumed issuing immigrant visas.

“New and updated EB-5 projects have come to market as the global economy recovers and the EB-5 Regional Center program enters its new phase of reauthorization,” says Tristani.

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