March 28, 2020, marks the nationwide closure of all public United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) offices in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The global health crisis has affected life in every corner of the globe, and EB-5 investors have not been immune to disruptions in their U.S. visa process either. Originally, closures applied to both domestic USCIS offices and the sum of U.S. embassies and consulates abroad, as well. As a result, all routine visa services were suspended.
While these essential offices continue to provide emergency services, EB-5 investors were effectively been placed on a hold at that time. The intention was to wait until COVID-19 cases tapered off and consulates reopened.
First, USCIS said closures were in effect until May 4, 2020. As the pandemic raged on, the closures were extended to June 4, 2020. Since then, local offices have made individual announcements as to their plans for reopening.
Even if an investor’s resources and offices are closed, though, it is worth the time and effort for them to be prepared for when it is time to set their visa process back into motion.
Besides setting in-person responsibilities back in motion, preparing now also means being at the ready for all the correspondence and activities that don’t require face-to-face interaction. USCIS is still reachable by email and phone call to provide remote services and continues to work behind closed doors to adjudicate EB-5 visa-related petitions (including I-526 petitions and I-829 petitions).
As travel bans and restrictions continue to remain in effect, these limitations are another factor affecting EB-5 investors’ U.S. immigration process. It is important for investors to maintain a watchful eye on travel restrictions into the U.S. as well, which may present additional obstacles to EB-5 investors.