If you are planning to apply for a U.S. green card leading to citizenship through the EB-5 visa programme, or have already applied and are already waiting in the US, you are no doubt wondering what impact the novel coronavirus pandemic will have on your application.
Below are answers to some frequently asked questions. We trust they will clarify the picture for you.
Question 1: What is COVID-19?
COVID-19, is a global pandemic – the virus causes respiratory disease that produces a varied response in hosts, from mild to severe. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides regular updates about the status of the pandemic, including the latest global numbers. The US is currently one of the hardest-hit countries.
Question 2: I am currently residing in the US, waiting for the results of my EB-5 petition. What do I need to know?
Answer: Individuals currently in the US on a visitor’s B-1/B-2 visa or WB visa-waiver (ESTA) programme for business visitors who are currently unable to depart the US before their period of admission ends, can apply for an extension. The B-visa applicant can file for an extension on Form I-539. Those who were admitted to the US via the WB visa-waiver (ESTA) programme can only request a Satisfactory Departure for up to 30 days. They need to take proof that flights have been cancelled.
B-1 non-immigrants can submit the Form I-539 and request an extension of up to six-months.
WB Visa-waiver ESTA business visitors can submit also make a request to the District Director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) field office where they are presently to grant an additional 30-day period due to inability to travel, under 8 CFR § 217.3(a). Call the USCIS Contact Center to make an appointment (but be prepared for a long wait as lines are very busy at this time).
Individuals who have not been able to apply to an extension in time may fall into the ‘Special Situations’ category – and the delay may be excused due to circumstances beyond your control. Be sure to keep screen shots of flight cancellations etc. Visit the ‘Special Situations’ webpage for more information.
Question 3: I am an EB-5 investor with a pending I-829 petition but cannot make my biometrics appointment due to lockdown. What can I do?
You will need to provide valid reasons if you cannot make your biometrics appointment – so be prepared to show how the pandemic and subsequent restriction of movement have disrupted your schedule. Provide evidence in a timely fashion. Also, if you have an I-829 pending and your 18-month travel receipt or temporary green card stamp in your passport is expiring, you may have to apply for a Form I-131A Boarding letter in order to be able to return to the US..
For those in the US with pending adjustment of status applications, USCIS will reuse previously submitted biometrics to process Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, and extension requests due to the temporary closure of Application Support Centers (ASCs). This will remain in effect until ASCs are reopened.
Question 4: I cannot sign by EB-5 form due to restrictions on my movement. Is an original signature necessary?
Fortunately, USCIS has relaxed its policy in this regard and will accept electronically reproduced original signatures (scans, faxes, photocopies and similar).
While COVID-19 has disrupted business, American Dream is continuing to work remotely and has invested in both enhanced security and advanced cloud technology. The pandemic has had no impact on our client service, and we will continue to support you on your journey to US citizenship.
Contribution by Bernard Wolfsdorf of Wolfsdorf Rosenthal Immigration Attorneys