Coronavirus Affects Immigration in Seattle

Erick Widman

In an abundance of caution, USCIS is closing its Seattle field office for 14 days to reduce the risk of exposure to coronavirus (COVID-19). One employee of USCIS Seattle has been experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 after visiting a nearby nursing home where an outbreak of the illness has been reported.

Acting Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli learned about the possible exposure on Monday evening and made the decision to close down the USCIS office for two weeks. USCIS has confirmed that the potentially-infected employee went to work during the period after he may have been exposed to the virus, but stopped going to work as soon as he started to experience symptoms.

It is unclear how the office closure will affect applicants, but it is very likely that it will cause delays for most or all pending cases. Employees of the Seattle office are being asked to self-quarantine and work from home. The Seattle field center has been experiencing an extreme backlog in case adjudication over the past several months, and this is likely to make things worse.

Any applicants who were scheduled for biometrics or interview appointments during the closure will automatically be rescheduled by USCIS. USCIS was not able to give notice of the closure, so applicants will likely be arriving for scheduled appointments this week before realizing the office is closed.

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