As per recent USCIS announcement concerning COVID-19, individuals who are ill for any reason, regardless of whether exposed to COVID-19, to consider canceling and rescheduling appointments with any USCIS office. USCIS will help the affected individuals to reschedule their appointments without any penalty when that individual becomes healthy. To reschedule any other appointments, please follow the instructions on your notice. According to USCIS, if an appointee or any accompanying individual appears ill or meets any of the following conditions, such as a cold or the flu, fever or nausea, severe headache or body aches, muscle or stomach pain, chest pain or difficulty breathing, vomiting or diarrhea, active tuberculosis (TB), mumps, measles, chickenpox, and other contagious disease, the officer may cancel the appointment or interview and will assist in rescheduling your appointment, without any penalty. In addition, USCIS may need to cancel and reschedule in-person appointments and oath ceremonies at the respective field offices in order to comply with local policies regarding COVID-19. Attendance at oath ceremonies will be limited to candidates only and an exception will be made for individuals requiring assistance or an interpreter. If the appointment or oath ceremony is cancelled, the individual will either receive an email or a mailed notice. If you don’t receive a new appointment notice in the next 90 days following a cancellation, please reach out to the USCIS Contact Center at 800-375-5283 and for people who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have a speech disability call TTY 800-767-1833. To view the current status of USCIS office closings and changed hours, please refer to the following page https://www.uscis.gov/about-us/uscis-office-closings.
According to the USCIS, all the Aliens who are experiencing symptoms resembling to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) (Fever, cough, shortness of breath) should seek all necessary medical treatment or preventive services. Accordingly, such treatment or services will not negatively impact or affect any alien when USCIS is adjudicating petition pursuant to the Public Charge Rule, which came into effect on February 24, 2020. As noted by USCIS in its announcement, the Public Charge rule does not restrict access to testing, screening, or treatment of communicable diseases, including COVID-19. The rule also does not restrict access to vaccines for children or adults to prevent vaccine-preventable diseases, and most importantly, USCIS for a public charge inadmissibility determination considers a number of factors and considerations in the totality of the Aliens circumstances over a period of time with no single factor being outcome determinative. As noted above, USCIS will neither consider testing, treatment, nor preventive care (including vaccines, if a vaccine becomes available) related to COVID-19 as part of a public charge inadmissibility determination nor as associated with the public benefit condition applicable to certain nonimmigrants seeking an extension of stay or change of status, even if such treatment is provided or paid for by one or more public benefits, as defined in the rule (e.g., federally funded Medicaid). The Public Charge Rule requires USCIS to consider the receipt of certain cash and non-cash public benefits, including those that may be used to obtain testing or treatment for COVID-19 in a public charge inadmissibility determination, and for purposes of a public benefit condition applicable to certain nonimmigrants seeking an extension of stay or change of status. The list of public benefits considered for these purposes includes most forms of federally funded Medicaid (for those over 21) but does not include CHIP, or State, local, or tribal public health care services/assistance that are not funded by federal Medicaid.
Most Importantly, if an alien subject to the public charge ground of inadmissibility lives or works in a jurisdiction where disease prevention methods such as social distancing or quarantine are in place, or where the Alien’s employer, school or university voluntarily shuts down operations to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Alien may submit a statement with his or her application for adjustment of status to explain how such methods or policies have affected the Alien as relevant to the factors USCIS must consider in a public charge inadmissibility determination. According to USCIS, if the Alien is prevented from working or attending school and must rely on public benefits for the duration of the COVID-19 outbreak and recovery phase, the Alien can provide an explanation and relevant supporting documents. USCIS, to the extent relevant and credible, will consider all pieces of evidence in the totality of the Aliens circumstances.
Please refer to our previous articles on Public Charge Rule, wherein; we have discussed the Public Charge Rule in detail. We will regularly update the blog as soon as any new information is available on the Public Charge Rule and COVID-19.
Previous Articles on the Public Charge Rule:
- http://www.ahluwalialaw.com/public-charge-rule-update-uscis-publishes-the-updated-forms/ (Date of Publication: February 05, 2020)
- http://www.ahluwalialaw.com/public-charge-rule-update-uscis-announces-implementation-of-the-public-charge-rule/ (Date of Publication: January 31, 2020)
- http://www.ahluwalialaw.com/public-charge-rule-update-january-28-2020/ (Date of Publication: January 28, 2020)
- http://www.ahluwalialaw.com/public-charge-rule-update-october-14-2019/ (Date of Publication: October 14, 2019)
- http://www.ahluwalialaw.com/public-charge-rule-update/ (Date of Publication: October 09, 2019)
- http://www.ahluwalialaw.com/uscis-publishes-final-rule-on-inadmissibility-on-public-charge-ground/(Date of Publication: September 13, 2019)
- http://www.ahluwalialaw.com/deportable-offenses/(Date of Publication: August 02, 2017)
This article aims to provide new information concerning COVID-19 and its effect on the Aliens. This article, under no circumstances, acts as legal or medical advice; therefore, for any further case-specific question, please contact your doctor and attorney or the Ahluwalia Law Offices, P.C. (Team ALO).