Our offices are open. For updates related to COVID-19, Please click here.

Update on Our Services in Response to COVID-19

Updated July 8, 2020

Our office remains operational. Some of our staff are working remotely, and we are not meeting with clients in person in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19.

We are available by phone, video conferencing, email, and of course regular mail. Please feel free to contact us at any time!

We want to reassure you that at this difficult time we continue to work on your cases and move them forward. While some government agencies have suspended their services (see below), many deadlines are still applicable and we will meet those deadlines.

Below are some updates about government services:

Immigration in the Time of COVID-19

Immigration Courts

The New Orleans Immigration Court is

all non-detained master calendar hearings until further notice. The Court will re-schedule these hearings in the future. Individual merits hearing will continue as scheduled. The New Orleans Immigration Court is still open for filings. Please note that the New Orleans Immigration Court has posted:

All persons working in or visiting the common spaces of the immigration courts – waiting

rooms, corridors, courtrooms, and other spaces generally open to the public – are required to

wear face coverings and should become familiar with CDC information about COVID-19.

An exception to the face covering requirement will be made for children under two years of age

and individuals with medical conditions that prevent them from wearing a face covering. Other

requirements may apply, and persons with business before the immigration court should take

care to check the court’s website prior to arrival. Please obey all official signs posted in the

building and EOIR space.

Any person with business before the immigration court who is experiencing symptoms of

coronavirus, has been diagnosed with the virus (even if asymptomatic), or who has otherwise

been exposed to the virus within the last 14 days will not be permitted to enter EOIR space. With

as much notice as practicable, represented respondents should call their attorney or

representative to provide notice of their inability to access court space for the applicable reason.

Attorneys, representatives, and unrepresented respondents should call the immigration court with

as much notice as possible.

Please note that court clerks continue to process new Notices to Appear, so continue to check the Immigration Court hotline (1-800-898-7180) or check online (click here) regarding the status of your case.

USCIS Offices

On June 4, 2020, USCIS New Orleans office re-opened its in-person services. Application Support Center will remain closed but will resume operations later.

USCIS has enacted precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in reopened facilities:

  • 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 will be 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 reschedule their appointment.
  • There will be markings and physical barriers in the facility; visitors should pay close attention to these signs to ensure they follow social distancing guidelines.
  • Individuals may also have to answer health screening questions before entering a facility.
  • Individuals are encouraged to bring their own black or blue ink pens.

Appointment notices will include further instructions for visiting USCIS facilities. Please note that USCIS locations are not accepting walk-in visits at this time. You must have a scheduled appointment with USCIS before arriving at a USCIS office. For more information, see our USCIS Visitor Policy and USCIS Office Closings pages.

At this time, USCIS regional service centers continue to operate and are processing filed cases. Premium processing, however, has been suspended.

ICE Offices

ICE offices in New Orleans and Baton Rouge are closed for check-ins until May 15, 2020. If you need to contact an immigration officer to re-schedule a check-in, canceled by COVID-19, call 504-599-7800. Please note that this information relates to the New Orleans and Baton Rouge ICE offices only; if you need information about another ICE office, please contact our office.

Subsequent to May 15, 2020, individuals should contact their local field office for additional guidance prior to their scheduled appointment.

Consular Offices

Embassies and consulates remain closed for routine visa services.

At this time, we do not know when consulates will re-open for consular processing.

Please note that individuals who leave the U.S. with expired visas will in most instances not be able to renew visas at this time. Individuals leaving the United States with expired visas should be ready to remain abroad indefinitely.

Public Charge

Please note that any health service that you take advantage of related to COVID-19 will not be considered in deciding whether you are a public charge. Therefore, all immigrants should take advantage of any testing, screening, or treatment available to the general public without fear of that affecting their immigration application even if the health service is provided free to the public or paid for by Medicaid.

Unemployment Benefits

Unemployment benefits are available to individuals who have a right to work and who have earned sufficient hours over the past several work quarters. You are eligible for unemployment benefits only if you have a current work permit or have been granted asylum. Please note that receipt of unemployment benefits does not affect whether USCIS will consider you a public charge.

Foreign Travel

Countries around the world have been affected by COVID-19. Many countries have closed their borders to foreign arrivals. In response, many airlines have limited international flights. In addition, travel to certain countries may delay and complicate your re-entry into the United States due to U.S. government restrictions. Due to the suspension of routine consular services, it is very likely that you will NOT be able to obtain a new visa if you leave the U.S. with a visa that is expired. This could result in your absence from the U.S. for an indefinite period. If you plan to travel internationally, please contact your attorney first, to ensure that you will be admitted to the foreign country or allowed to return to the United States.

Address Changes

As always, it is essential to update USCIS and the immigration court, via your attorney if you are represented, if there is any change to your address or phone number. Failure to update your contact information could result in missing the notice rescheduling your hearing or interview and being ordered removed in your absence. Please notify our office immediately if you move!

We know this is a lot of information and we are here to help navigate you through the process. Please don’t hesitate to call us or email us with general questions at info@peltonbalducci.com.

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