Over the past few weeks, many clients have been asking me whether the COVID-19 outbreak and ensuing local lockdowns have had any interruption on the adjudication of their EB-5 petitions and court cases as a matter of law. As of now, the answer is mostly no.
USCIS has shut down most public-facing functions. In and of itself, this should have no effect on their non-public functions. Notwithstanding that adjustment interviews and biometric processing are indefinitely delayed, adjudicators (to their great credit) continue to report to work.
What this means is that processing Forms I-526 should be expected to continue in the normal course. USCIS also maintains a remote work policy, enabling adjudicators to move through petition adjudications from the comfort of their homes. Indeed, their collective bargaining agreement allows employees to take files home. There is no legal reason, at least as of right now, to expect the IPO to slow down during this period. While I-829 biometrics might be delayed, USCIS can still work on its immense condition removal backlog for those who attended their appointments in the past year.
My litigation clients have expressed similar concerns. Can a judge give relief during these turbulent times? Federal courts have generally been closing their public-facing functions. For example, the Northern District of Georgia has shut down many functions that require a presence in the court house, including jury duty. Nevertheless, immigration litigation is generally resolved by motions for dismissal/summary judgment or bench trials. It does not require the empaneling of a jury. The federal courts have almost uniformly continued these kinds of adjudications without interruption. A judge can accordingly issue a decision from Chambers or even his/her home without full courthouse operations.
We continue to move full speed ahead on behalf of our clients. If your company or your family seeks immigration benefits during these unprecedented times, please contact us today.