USCIS Updates Visitor Policy as per New CDC Guidance

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently updated its policies for visitors to its offices. Relying on updated CDC recommendations, fully vaccinated individuals no longer must wear a face covering while visiting USCIS offices. However, individuals who are two years of age or older who are not fully vaccinated must still wear face coverings when entering USCIS offices. USCIS defines individuals as “fully vaccinated” when they have received a second dose in a two-dose vaccine series or one dose of a single-dose vaccine and at least two weeks have passed.

Rules for Face Coverings While in USCIS Offices

For those who must wear face coverings while in USCIS offices, the face coverings cannot be gaiters, bandannas, or masks with exhaust valves. If you arrive for a USCIS appointment and do not have a proper face covering, you may be asked to exit and return with a proper face covering or even to reschedule your appointment.

USCIS officials may require you to briefly remove your face covering if necessary to verify your identity or have your photograph taken.

Rules for USCIS Appointments

When you go to a USCIS office for an appointment, the number and type of persons who can come with you are limited. Only the following people can accompany you to a USCIS appointment:

  • Attorneys
  • Interpreters (if otherwise permitted)
  • Parents, legal guardians, or trusted adults (if you are a minor)
  • Immediate family members listed on your application or interview notice
  • Individuals needed to assist a disabled person

You generally should not enter a USCIS building more than 15 minutes before your appointment or 30 minutes before naturalization ceremonies. USCIS will provide hand sanitizer at entry points and may require you to answer health screening questions to enter the building. You also are encouraged to bring blue or black ink pens with you to your appointment.

Naturalization Ceremonies

USCIS is still not permitting guests at naturalization ceremonies, other than individuals needed to assist a disabled person. All individuals participating in naturalization ceremonies must wear a face covering throughout the event, even when held outside a USCIS office.

Rescheduling USCIS Appointments

USCIS continues to recommend that you reschedule your appointment if you have COVID-19 or any symptoms of COVID-19, regardless of your vaccination status. Unless you have been fully vaccinated, you also should not enter USCIS offices if you have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19 within the last 14 days, if you have returned from air or cruise ship travel within the last ten days, or you have been instructed to quarantine by a health care provider or public health authority in the past 14 days.

USCIS Eases Other COVID-19 Requirements

USCIS also has updated its requirements for travelers based on the CDC recommendations. Individuals who have returned from domestic or international flights or cruise ships within the past ten days may enter USCIS facilities if they are fully vaccinated.

Similarly, individuals who have been within six feet of individuals known to have had COVID-19 in the previous 14 days for 15 minutes or more may also enter USCIS facilities if fully vaccinated. Healthcare workers who consistently wear N95 respirators and personal protective equipment when in contact with patients who have COVID-19 also are exempt from reporting close contact.

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