January 6, 2021
The first reason
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the temporary closure of agency offices and subsequent restrictions on opening, many of these appointments were canceled and USCIS said it would reschedule them once it normalized operations.
USCIS temporarily suspended in-person services between March and June to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and ensure the safety of employees and applicants. As a result, they canceled approximately 280,000 appointments. USCIS began a gradual reopening of the Application Support Centers (ASCs) in July, after they installed protective screens and incorporated appropriate social distancing measures at 132 sites.
Since reopening, there have been sporadic and temporary Application Assistance Center closures for reasons such as local restrictions on staying at home, COVID-19-related cleaning and extreme weather.
From July to September, ASCs operating below 50 percent of pre-COVID levels. At the end of October, we increased ASC operations to approximately 65 percent of pre-COVID levels.
The good news
They are working to safely maximize appointment capacity at ASCs and are also reusing previously collected biometric data to perform background and security checks when authorized by law.
Based on the unique capacity limitations of each ASC, not all canceled appointments have yet been rescheduled. USCIS is scheduling approximately 10,400 appointments per day. Approximately 1.3 million apps are waiting for biometric appointments as of mid-December 2020.
What awaits you?
Applicants should continue to wait for an appointment notice from ASC or a Form I-797, Notice of Action, from USCIS stating that their previously collected biometric data can be reused.
ASC appointment priority
Biometric appointments are scheduled based on the prioritization of benefit types and ASC availability.