The past year has brought many challenges and disruptions to working life in the United States. For one, there has been much ambiguity surrounding whether or not you should show up for work (if you still have an in-person job) if you are having Covid like symptoms. If you are simply having body aches, does that constitute coronavirus-like symptoms? Most employers simply ask employees to refrain from coming into their office and possibly infecting others. But the issue has been complicated due to one or more household members possibly losing their job, and therefore some workers showing up because they can’t afford any missed days.
This is also having unintended consequences on showing up for USCIS appointments when immigrants are scheduled to work, or possibly fearing that they will lose their job or be penalized if they miss several hours of the working day to attend a USCIS interview at a service center. Therefore, this blog will be dedicated to better understanding the consequences of missing your USCIS appointment (whether that is simply a Biometrics appointment, an appointment in reference to an RFE, or a more official green card interview).
We want immigrants to be aware that missing these appointments as “no shows” can be more costly than missing a day of work. This is because U.S. immigration law is strict and has many technicalities that can affect ones immigration status and ability to remain in the U.S. lawfully.
If you know that your USCIS interview is three months away, at an exact time and at an exact service center in a neighboring town or city, you need to give your current employer several weeks notice. Due to Covid-19, some workers have left industries entirely (such as the service sector) because of the health risks of constantly being exposed to indoor diners. If you work in this sector and your organization is short-staffed, make sure you give plenty of notice regarding your USCIS appointment to your manager, that way you can avoid any issues or problems with staffing for the day you will be gone.
Be Realistic About Logistics
In addition, if you are going to be attending a USCIS interview, you should allow yourself several hours of the day to be gone—requesting a half day might even not be enough time. If it takes you an hour to get to the service center, and your interview takes up to an hour, you should expect to be gone for at least 3.5 hours factoring in traffic. One way employees can get into trouble is by suggesting they have a doctors appointment that will take an hour and they are gone for much longer than that. Be realistic with your employer and make sure you tell them why are you need the time off.
What a Missed Appointment Means
Immigration applicants should know that there it is generally less serious if they miss a Biometrics appointment, although missing one without any intent to reschedule could result in significant (a few months delay) in your processing. This is firstly because the USCIS needs your fingerprints to send for a background check, and can’t process the rest of your application until this is complete.
Applicants should know there is no penalty for having to reschedule an appointment. If you are feeling sick or something comes up at work, you need to call the USCIS Contact Center at 800-375-5283 to reschedule.
The penalty comes when you no-show a green card interview, as this is more serious. If you no-show your green card interview, you are signaling to a USCIS officer that you might be abandoning your green card application. Officers might suspect that you’ve already left the United States too.
In general, making the right preparations for your USCIS interview or meeting is critically important. If you have waited up to a year for a green card interview or appointment, you should attend or reschedule in the most dire situations. In addition, USCIS service centers are also abiding by the current Covid-19 protocols as follows, stating that you aren’t allowed into a service center if you:
- Have any symptoms of COVID-19, including recently developed cough, fever, difficulty breathing, changes in smell or taste or fatigue (list is not all-inclusive.
- Have been in close contact with anyone known or suspected to have COVID-19 in the last 14 days.
- Have been instructed to self-quarantine or self-isolate by a health care provider, public health authority or government agency within the last 14 days.
For more information on this, please see the following link: https://www.uscis.gov/about-us/find-a-uscis-office/if-you-feel-sick-do-not-come-to-your-uscis-appointment-please-cancel-and-reschedule-it