As we enter the warm summer months, many families, couples, and individuals are taking off on summer trips and long holiday weekends. As the summer months are notoriously busy (and always go by too fast!), we commonly encounter scheduling issues for immigration-related appointments due to travel or vacation.
If you’re a couple who has been waiting for your Adjustment of Status interview for many months, or a permanent resident awaiting your Naturalization appointment, you will likely be disappointed if the appointment notice finally arrives and it is scheduled for a time that you are planning to be away. With such an important and highly anticipated appointment, it is hard to know what to do if the alternative is cancelling a long-planned trip or abandoning non-refundable tickets.
While it is generally recommended that applicants do everything possible to attend their scheduled appointments (including biometrics, interviews, and oath ceremonies) in order to avoid issues or delays, there are times when travel is essential or cannot be cancelled (this, of course, includes family or medical emergencies in addition to nonrefundable travel or important trips). As long as you have a genuine and compelling reason, it is an option to request to reschedule the appointment and it (usually) does not create any major issues.
The primary risk with rescheduling any immigration-related appointment is adding additional delays to the processing time. Unsurprisingly, USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) can be quite slow to process scheduling requests. If the benefits of keeping your plans outweigh the cost of waiting longer for your case to be processed, and you have documentation showing you will be unable to attend, then you should proceed with requesting to reschedule with USCIS.
Here is an overview of how to reschedule a USCIS interview (Note this does not apply to consular interviews abroad — those are extremely important to keep!):
- When the appointment notice is received, you should contact USCIS or your immigration attorney as soon as possible to let them know that you will be unable to make it.
- There are a few ways to contact USCIS:
- By phone at 1 (800) 375-5283;
- By mail (address depends on the type and location of appointment);
- By email (usually only an option if your attorney has a contact address for your local field office).
- When you contact USCIS by phone, you will need to provide them with your name, birth date, address, and case number. You also may need to provide this information for the petitioner, if that applies.
- The customer service representative will create a reschedule request in the system, which can take a few weeks to process.
- You will likely receive a letter or email within a few weeks confirming the request to cancel and reschedule the interview. This notice may be accompanied by a request for documentation for why you cannot make your appointment, or it will simply confirm that your current appointment will be cancelled and a new appointment will then be scheduled.
- You should then expect to receive an interview cancellation notice and a new appointment notice in the mail. The new appointment can take approximately 4-8 weeks, or sometimes longer, to be scheduled.
- This option generally applies only to biometrics (fingerprinting) appointments. These can be rescheduled by sending the original appointment notice and a written request explaining why you cannot attend to:
BPU Alexandria ASC, Suite 100
8850 Richmond Hwy
Alexandria, VA 22309-1586
Note: Please confirm current address as listed on your biometrics notice if following these steps, as this is subject to change.
- In some cases, immigration attorneys have contact information for their local USCIS field offices that are not always made available to the general public. Your attorney may be able to email your field office directly with a request to reschedule (interviews only) with supporting documents attached.
- Your attorney will request copies of your tickets or itineraries and a description of the planned travel, family emergency, medical treatment, or other engagement.
- It can still take several weeks (4-8) for a new appointment date to be set, but is likely to be faster than putting in a request with the national service center by phone.