Last week, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced major changes to its visa processing procedures in light of the Coronavirus pandemic.

First, the agency announced “the immediate and temporary suspension of premium processing service for all Form I-129 and I-140 petitions until further notice due to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).” Effective March 20th, USCIS stopped accepting new requests for premium processing but said it would process any previously accepted premium processing forms in accordance with pre-established criteria.

Petitioners who already filed a Form I-129 or Form I-140 using the premium processing service and who receive no agency action on their case within the 15-calendar-day period will receive a refund. USCIS will reject premium processing requests and return the $1,440 filing fee for all petitions requesting premium processing that were mailed before March 20 but not yet accepted.

This temporary suspension includes petitions filed for the following categories:

  • I-129: E-1, E-2, H-1B, H-2B, H-3, L-1A, L-1B, LZ, O-1, O-2, P-1, P-1S, P-2, P-2S, P-3, P-3S, Q-1, R-1, TN-1 and TN-2.
  • I-140: EB-1, EB-2 and EB-3.

For more info, click here.

Second, USCIS announced that it is adding flexibility when submitting required signatures on forms for visa applicants. The agency will accept all forms and documents with reproduced original signatures for submissions dated on or after March 21, 2020. In short, for forms that require an original “wet” signature, per form instructions, USCIS will accept electronically reproduced original signatures for the duration of the National Emergency.

For more details, click here.