International Travel triggering USICS to reschedule some NATZ interviews citing COVID precautions
Houston immigration law firm Gee & Zhang has recently been made aware of USCIS Field Officers calling naturalization applicants directly to reschedule naturalization (N-400) interviews or oath ceremonies that had been scheduled for as soon as the next day, as a COVID-19 precaution, citing the applicant’s recent foreign travel as reason for rescheduling. This is problematic not only because the Officers do not appear to also contact the attorney of record (per the Form G-28), but because there has been no official policy announced regarding cancellation of these appointments due to an applicant’s recent international travel. In one example, a naturalization applicant reported receiving a call from a USICS Field Officer the day after returning from international travel to inform her that her interview scheduled for two days later had been cancelled.
USCIS had, though, added language to N-400 interview and naturalization oath ceremony notices stating applicants who have traveled internationally within the past 10 days who “would like to reschedule” (emphasis added) their interview or ceremony may do so:
“YOU MUST APPEAR FOR THIS [INTERVIEW or OATH CEREMONY] – However, if you are ill, have any symptoms of illness, have traveled outside the United States within the past 10 days* (unless you traveled outside of the United States in a personal vehicle); or had contact with a person who tested positive for COVID-19 within the past 14 days; or are at heightened risk due to age or an underlying health condition and would like to reschedule your appointment, call the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Contact Center at 1 800-375-5283 (TTY 1-800-767-1833) as soon as possible to reschedule your appointment. There is no penalty for requesting that your appointment be rescheduled. If you have been fully vaccinated for COVID-19 (defined as at least 2 weeks after second dose of Pfizer and Modema vaccine, or 2 weeks after single J&J vaccine), you do not need to reschedule after contact with a positive person as long as you continue to not have symptoms.” [Emphasis added]
Clearly, the notice indicates that rescheduling the interview or ceremony after recent international travel is the applicant’s option, rather than a requirement. Gee & Zhang attorneys are seeking clarification of the agency’s policy as it is written in the notices versus as it is being implemented by Field Officers. In the meantime, we advise our clients who receive such a call from a USCIS Field Officer to contact your Gee & Zhang immigration attorney immediately, as USICS may not have notified us of the cancellation.