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The USCIS Extends Flexibility for Responding to Agency Requests

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the USCIS pushed for a decrease in processing times and announced the expansion of a premium processing service.

As a result, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is extending certain flexibilities through July 25, 2022, to assist applicants, petitioners, and requestors. The USCIS anticipates that this may be the final extension of these workability’s.

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Our Approach

The USCIS will consider a response received within sixty calendar days after the due date set forth in the following requests or notices, listed below, before taking any action, if the issuance date listed on the request or notice is between March 1, 2020, and July 25, 2022.

  • Requests for Evidence
  • Continuations to Request Evidence (N14)
  • Notices of Intent to Deny
  • Notices of Intent to Revoke
  • Notices of Intent to Rescind
  • Notices of Intent to Terminate Regional Center
  • Motions to Reopen an N-400 – Pursuant to 8 CFR 335.5 – Receipt of Derogatory Information After Grant

In addition, the USCIS will consider a Form I-290B, Notice of Appeal or Motion, or Form N-336, Request for a Hearing on a Decision in Naturalization Proceedings.

(Under Section 336 of the INA), IF:

  • The form was filed up to ninety calendar days from the issuance of a decision the USCIS made.
  • USCIS made that decision between Nov. 1, 2021, and July 25, 2022, inclusive.

Take Aways
The USCIS is again extending the response period for certain requests, notices, and decisions due to COVID-19.

  • The USCIS first announced COVID-19 flexible measures on March 20, 2020, and
    these measures apply to the response period permitted for certain requests, notices, and decisions issued between March 1, 2020, and Jan. 15, 2022


  • The USCIS will consider a response to the qualifying requests, notices, and decisions when received within sixty calendar days after the response due date before taking any action

Core Values

What are the Changes?

Extended response periods apply to certain requests, decisions, and notices, with an issuance date between March 1, 2020, and Jan. 15, 2022.

Who is Affected?

Applicants who filed a Form N-336, a Request for a Hearing on a Decision in Naturalization Proceedings, or a Form I-290B, and a Notice of Appeal or Motion, are affected, provided a decision was made between March 1, 2020, and Jan. 15, 2022, and forms were filed within sixty days of the agency’s issued decision.

What Should Employers and Applicants Know?

Employers and applicants should know that the USCIS will consider a response to the above requests and notices received within sixty calendar days after the response due date set forth in the request or notice before taking any action. Looking ahead, the USCIS will provide additional updates regarding its COVID-19 policies as they become available.

Additional Information

On March 29, 2022, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released a much-anticipated announcement explaining the actions it will take to reduce the substantial backlog. New policy changes will be implemented to cut down processing times significantly.

The agency has outlined three main initiatives that will improve processing times at USCIS levels across the board.

  • USCIS has announced that it will be setting agency-wide backlog reduction goals
  • Expansion of Premium Processing Service of other types of immigration petitions
  • Improving timely access to Employment Authorization Documents (EADs)


 Backlog Reduction Initiatives

The USCIS initiated new “internal cycle time goals,” in March. These goals are internal metrics created to monitor backlog reduction attempts of the USCIS workforce and will affect how long it takes to process cases. The new internal cycle time goals will determine how long it takes the USCIS to process immigration benefits going forward. The agency will embark on increasing its capacity, implementing technological improvements, and expanding staffing to ensure improved cycle and processing times. The USCIS expects these goals to be accomplished by the end of the 2023 fiscal year.

Reducing Processing Backlogs

The agency’s processing time chart, shown below, shows the average lead time between form processing and USCIS final case decisions. The USCIS observes the number of pending cases in their workload through a metric called “cycle times.” A cycle time measures how many month’s worth of pending cases for a particular form are awaiting a decision. As an internal management metric, cycle times are generally comparable to the agency’s publicly posted median processing times. Cycle times are what the operational divisions of USCIS use to indicate how much progress the agency is, or is not, making on reducing the backlog and overall case processing times.

Improving Access to Employment Authorization Documents

The USCIS continues to make progress toward an interim final rule called “Temporary Increase of the Automatic Extension Period of Employment Authorization and Documentation for Certain Renewal Applicants.” In recent months, the USCIS has begun streamlining many EAD processes, including, extending validity periods for certain EADs, and providing expedited work authorization renewals for healthcare and childcare workers.

The interim final rule aims to build on progress and to ensure certain individuals will not lose their work authorization status while their applications are pending.

Contact us now at +1 (202) 951-0802 or mail us at info@visatomerica.com for a free consultation with our Immigration experts.

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