Spread of the new coronavirus, COVID-19, has caused panic across the United States. With the number of confirmed cases on the rise, the coronavirus has started to affect several facets of immigration.

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How government officials handle the virus could have a significant impact on people navigating our immigration process, their health, and the immigration system at large. Some government responses have already made an impact.

USCIS Office Closures Over Coronavirus

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) shut down its Seattle field office on Tuesday, March 3 due to concerns over the coronavirus. An employee of the USCIS office had visited a family member at the Life Care Center in Kirkland, Washington before it was confirmed the facility had an outbreak of the virus.

Other USCIS offices may close as the virus spreads across the United States. USCIS is tracking office closures on their website.

Those waiting outside the Seattle office last week were surprised to find it closed. One man, who had been ordered to leave the country for Mexico, couldn’t get to his passport—it was locked inside the office. Another man had been waiting for his biometrics appointment but would need to reschedule.

USCIS office closures can have a large impact on immigrants and their families. They often wait months or longer for their scheduled appointments. Rescheduling missed or cancelled appointments can result in further delays.

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