United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has recently implemented several noteworthy changes to the immigration application process. These changes aim to streamline procedures, enhance efficiency, and adapt to the evolving landscape of immigration. In this blog post, we will delve into three significant changes: the new addresses for filing applications, the removal of the 60-day rule for medical exams, and the end of COVID-19 flexibilities. Let us explore how these changes impact the immigration process and its applicants.
New Addresses for Filing the Application
At the end of March, USCIS updated the addresses for filing certain immigration forms. The new addresses are designed to ensure timely processing and routing of applications to the appropriate USCIS service centers. It is crucial for applicants to be aware of these changes and submit their applications to the correct address: applications and petitions that are not mailed to the appropriate filing location may experience processing delays.
- Changed the filing location to Tempe, AZ for courier delivery services for FedEx, UPS, and DHL for the USCIS Phoenix lockbox. The filing location remains the same when using the U.S. Postal Service
- Changed the filing location for applicants and/or petitioners filing certain forms.
- I-130, Petition for Alien Relative;
- I-131, Application for Travel Document;
- I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant;
- I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status; and
- I-765, Application for Employment Authorization
Removal of the 60-Day Rule for Medical Exams
In the past, applicants were required to undergo medical examinations within 60 days of filing their immigration applications.
At the end of March, USCIS removed the requirement that civil surgeons sign Form I-693, Report of Immigration Medical Examination and Vaccination Record no more than 60 days before an individual applies for an underlying immigration benefit, including Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. USCIS will now be able to accept Form I-693 for adjudicative purposes for up to 2 years after the date the civil surgeon signed the form.
This change is particularly significant as it provides flexibility to applicants, allowing them to schedule medical exams at their convenience, without the added pressure of adhering to strict timelines. Applicants can now prioritize their medical examinations without rushing through the other aspects of the application process.
End of COVID-19 Flexibilities
The COVID-19 pandemic presented unique challenges for immigration processes worldwide. USCIS implemented various temporary flexibilities to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on applicants. However, as the situation improves and normalcy gradually returns, USCIS has decided to end many of these temporary flexibilities. On March 23rd, USCIS announced that it is finally ending the COVID-19 related flexibilities it had implemented in 2020. Most critically, this means that many immigration forms that were temporarily allowing digital signatures will return to requiring ink signatures on the original. In addition, the grace period allowed to respond to USCIS requests for evidence, notices of intent to deny and other immigration requests have also concluded.
USCIS has reverted to its standard procedures when it comes to interviews, emphasizing the need for in-person interviews as opposed to the remote interviews that were acceptable during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, many cases are being approved without interviews if all the necessary documentation is submitted at filing.
The recent changes implemented by USCIS in the immigration application process reflect their commitment to improving efficiency and adapting to the evolving landscape. It is always important for applicants to stay informed about these changes to navigate the immigration process effectively. As always, follow our newsletter and blog for the latest in immigration news and analysis, and reach out to us if you have any questions about your case!