23 Mar USCIS Field Office Closure on 31 March 2020
Despite the American Embassy in London temporarily closing for visa processing, the USCIS Field Office, which is housed in the Embassy, is still operating more-or-less as normal. Fortunately, this means that those looking to file an I-130 Petition for a spouse, parent, or child may continue to do so until 31 March 2020, when the Field Office will close its doors permanently. If a petition has not been filed by the deadline, it will then need to be filed with the Dallas Lockbox and will be processed by one of the USCIS Service Centers in the United States.
The benefit of being able to file the I-130 with the London Field Office is two-fold. First, the overall time it takes to have a visa in hand when the I-130 is filed in London is roughly three months, versus approximately one to two years when filed with the Service Centers. Additionally, once a petition is approved by a Service Center you are required to pay a $120 Affidavit of Support fee that you are not required to pay when the petition is approved in London.
If you are considering filing an I-130 Petition in the near future, but are hesitant due to the current situation with COVID-19, keep in mind that once a petition is approved you have one year from the approval to make the visa application. Thus, although travel is restricted and visa interviews are not taking place at the moment, you can still take advantage of shorter processing times in London and potentially have your petition approved by the time this pandemic passes and you are ready to make the visa application and move to the United States, saving you many months of waiting in the long-run.
For more information, or to schedule a virtual consultation, please email Rikkilee Barrow at firstname.lastname@example.org.