*Practice limited to federal immigration law. Licensed in NY, MA, but not in CA.

How Coronavirus May Impact People With Visas Stuck In Administrative Processing

 

Today, I want to answer a question that I’m seeing right now on Facebook and in a few different places. The question is, “Embassies are closed for in-person interviews. Is that going to stop administrative processing or 221(g)?” And someone else asked basically the same question, “When the embassy is closing for the interviews, is 221(g) going to stop?” Let me give you my opinion on that.

In case you don’t know me, my name is Josh Goldstein. I’m an immigration lawyer in Los Angeles. I’m actually working from home right now because of all the coronavirus craziness. I hope you and your family are all safe. But my job is, basically, suing consulates.

 

How I help people

I file writ of mandamus lawsuits against U.S. consulates abroad, and I do it to help people just like you, people who are stuck in administrative processing. They are all people who deserve their visas to be approved and they should have been approved at their interviews, but for one reason or another, their visas are stuck and delayed.

And now we’re getting notices that the consulates are no longer conducting interviews for immigrant or non-immigrant visas. They’re just not doing interviews. And the question is how is that going to impact people out there who are stuck in administrative processing? These are people who’ve been waiting for months or even years to get their visas approved. How will the closures because of covid-19 impact people like this? The answer, of course, is that no one knows.

 

One school of thought…

But there are a couple of schools of thought. First of all, anybody in administrative processing has already had an interview, because that’s the definition of administrative processing. It’s a delay that occurs after your interview or at the time or the end of your interview.

If you’re in administrative processing, you’ve already had an interview. This means they don’t need to interview you anymore. And so, one school of thought is that if they’re not conducting interviews, then the staff at the consulate can work through the backlog of cases for people who are stuck in administrative processing and they can clear those cases up.

 

Another school of thought…

Is that what we’re going to see? I certainly hope so, but we don’t really know. We don’t know if the consulates will remain staffed because we don’t know how serious the coronavirus will be in two weeks, three weeks, or four weeks. If everyone’s on quarantine and lockdown, then it may be difficult for people at the consulate to get in to work and to do their job. Could they process the cases remotely? That remains to be seen.

 

Does filing a mandamus lawsuit make sense at this time?

Some people have asked me, “Does it make sense to file a mandamus lawsuit given that the consulates are not doing interviews anymore?” I think if you’re trying to resolve a delay, it’s always much better to be the person who’s filed the lawsuit.

Because if they’re not processing the cases now, at some point they will be, and when you file a lawsuit your case becomes a huge priority. And with that, getting your case resolved becomes a huge priority too.

So, I always think it’s to your advantage to file the lawsuit if your goal is to get your case out of administrative processing fast. That’s my take on it.

Of course, nobody knows what’s going to happen with the coronavirus. I hope you are safe and well, and if you have any questions about anything related to administrative processing, mandamus lawsuits, 221(g) or anything else, please let me know. Please put it in the comments below or send me a message.

Josh Goldstein
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