The unprecedented lockbox delays from last autumn/winter are well known to both immigration practitioners and clients alike. Our office filed several cases during this time period where USCIS took over 12 weeks (!!) to cash filing fee checks (normally a process that takes a week or two max), and both we and our clients were left in limbo stressing about what had happened to these cases, whether the filing packet had gotten lost, whether the case had been rejected, etc. For some individuals, these delays were compounded in certain situations where the filing fee checks issued to pay for the case processing expired while the filing stood in some unnamed USCIS facility waiting to be receipted and accepted, and the filing was subsequently rejected as a result. Today, USCIS announced some much-needed relief and flexibility for those applicants, in effect for 60 days from today, June 10, 2021 until August 9, 2021. See more details below:
Copied from USCIS:
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will offer filing flexibilities to provide relief to certain applicants and petitioners impacted by delays at a USCIS lockbox. These flexibilities only apply to benefit requests submitted to a USCIS lockbox and not to USCIS service centers or field offices.
The following temporary flexibilities are effective for 60 days from June 10 until Aug. 9, 2021:
- If you submitted a benefit request to a USCIS lockbox between Oct. 1, 2020, and April 1, 2021, and that request was rejected during that timeframe solely due to a filing fee payment that expired while the benefit request was awaiting processing, you may resubmit the request with a new fee payment. If USCIS concurs that it has rejected the benefit request because of the delay, USCIS will deem the request to have been received on the initial filing date it was first received and waive the $30 dishonored check fee.
- USCIS will allow applicants and petitioners to submit documentation with a benefit request resubmission demonstrating that because of the time that elapsed between when a benefit request was originally submitted to a USCIS lockbox and when USCIS rejected it, an applicant, co-applicant, beneficiary or derivative has reached an age that makes them no longer eligible to file for the benefit requested. If USCIS agrees that the delayed rejection caused the person to be ineligible due to age, USCIS will accept the request and deem it to have been received on the date the initial benefit request was received. This flexibility does not apply to Form N-600K, Application for Citizenship and Issuance of Certificate Under Section 322.
Applicants and petitioners can contact USCIS to verify previously filed benefit requests have not been rejected in error. If USCIS concurs, we may allow applicants and petitioners to resubmit an erroneously rejected benefit request and deem the benefit request to have been received on the date the initial benefit request was first received at a USCIS lockbox.
For more information on these filing flexibilities, including how to request them, visit the USCIS website.
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