U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ San Francisco District offices entered a phased reopening to the public in early June, resuming in-person services that had been discontinued on March 17 in the face of the coronavirus (COVID-19). Even though California has recently been largely shut down for indoor services, district offices in San Francisco, Santa Clara, Sacramento and Fresno remain open. As an essential U.S. government organization, USCIS provides an array of immigration services. Many immigration benefits require in-person services, so timely immigration adjudications are important.
USCIS is following a three-phased approach based on the Administration’s Guidelines for Opening Up America Again. This regimen is based on the advice of public health experts.
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 is 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 make a new appointment.
Visitors should pay close attention to markings and physical barriers in the facility to ensure they follow social distancing guidelines. They may also have to answer health screening questions before entering a facility. All who enter are encouraged to bring their own black or blue ink pens.
“We at USCIS understand that some people won’t want to come in at this time on account of pandemic sensitives,” said USCIS San Francisco District Director John Kramar. “They’re welcome to reschedule their appointments for later without penalty, when they feel safe traveling to the office. Also, we don’t expect any applicant to violate his or her county or city’s health standards.”
Getting the Certificate of Naturalization that results from a successful naturalization interview is vital to being eligible for a host of benefits, from applying for Social Security benefits to voting. Permanent Resident Cards, known as green cards, confer benefits on the holder as well. Law dictates in-person interviews must be conducted for applicants to be eligible for these benefits.
All appointment notices will include further instructions for visiting USCIS facilities. For more information, see our USCIS Visitor Guidelines.