Immigration Reopening During Coronavirus

Immigration Reopening During Coronavirus

Here is what you need to know about Immigration as courts and offices start to reopen. Remember, the timeline of your immigration case may have changed during Coronavirus closures. Stay in close contact with your attorney to make sure you know the latest details of your case.

Immigration Court Opening

Milwaukee Service Area

The Chicago court will resume hearing cases for people who are not detained on Monday, July 6, 2020.

Being closed for so long has complicated the immigration court’s schedule. Some of our client’s immigration court hearings are going ahead on schedule. Others are not. In some cases, the immigration court has cancelled hearings without rescheduling them yet.

Knowing when you have a hearing is really important because if you don’t go to your hearing, Immigration will order you deported. The date of your hearing also determines when you must submit all of your documents to the court.

Checking Your Hearing Dates

Attorneys have access to an online calendar with the immigraion court. So if you are working with an attorney, your attorney can check your hearing dates.

You can also check your dates yourself. There are three ways:

First, you can call a toll free number (1-800-898-7180). Information is available in Spanish and English. To hear your hearing dates, you will need to know your alien registration number. Follow the prompts, and you can find out the date of your next hearing. Note, however, this method works best for people who are not detained.

The second way you can find your next court date is to look online using the EOIR Automated Case Information portal. Again, you will need to provide your alien registration number.

Finally, you can call the immigration court. Calling the court is the least convenient way to find your next court date simply because their phones are so busy that it can be hard to get through.

If You Change Addresses

Due to COVID-19 closures, some hearings are rescheduled for more than a year away. That means it is very important to update your attorney if you move. If you do not have an attorney, you have to update both the immigration court and the Office of the Chief Counsel yourself.

Update the immigration court:

You can find a copy of the form for each immigration court using the online Form EOIR-33 EOIR Immigration Court Listing.

Notify the Office of the Chief Counsel via mail: 

525 W. Monroe St.
Suite 701
Chicago, IL 60607 

It is best to mail your change of address with “return receipt requested” so that you have proof that you did it.

Other Immigration Changes in Response to Coronavirus

Telephone Hearings

To help limit the spread of Coronavirus, the Chicago immigration court is allowing people to appear by telephone for some hearings. Also, your lawyer may be able to appear by telephone without you having to be there. This may change, so be sure to stay in touch with your lawyer if you have one.

Citizenship Ceremonies

Immigration has begun scheduling “swearing in” ceremonies for those who are becoming United States citizens. They respect social distancing by limiting the number of people at each ceremony. They are also holding some of the ceremonies at Immigration rather than at federal courthouses. Pay close attention to the address on your oath ceremony notice.

Orders of Supervision

The Milwaukee Office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is calling people who  must report to them. ICE is also trying to call their lawyers. Remember that you gave ICE your phone number that they could contact. If you change that number, you must make sure that ICE gets your new phone number.

Biometrics

Biometrics is a process where Immigration takes your fingerprints and a digital photo of your face. Recently, Immigration had to cancel biometrics appointments when local Immigration offices closed. These appointments will be rescheduled.

For new appointments, Immigration posted the following safety information on their reopening page at USCIS.gov:

  • Visitors may not enter a USCIS facility if they:
    • Have any symptoms of COVID-19, including cough, fever or difficulty breathing;
    • Have been in close contact with anyone known or suspected to have COVID-19 in the last 14 days; or
    • Have been individually directed to self-quarantine or self-isolate by a health care provider or public health official within the last 14 days.
  • Visitors may not enter the facility more than 15 minutes prior to their appointment (30 minutes for naturalization ceremonies).
  • Hand sanitizer will be provided for visitors at entry points. 
  • Members of the public must wear facial coverings that cover both the mouth and nose when entering facilities. If they do not have one, USCIS may provide one or the visitor will be asked to reschedule their appointment.
  • There will be markings and physical barriers in the facility; visitors should pay close attention to these signs to ensure they follow social distancing guidelines.
  • Individuals may also have to answer health screening questions before entering a facility. 
  • Individuals are encouraged to bring their own black or blue ink pens.

Appointment notices will include further instructions for visiting USCIS facilities. Please note that USCIS locations are not accepting walk-in visits at this time. You must have a scheduled appointment with USCIS before arriving at a USCIS office.