COVID-19: Immigration Update (English)
COVID-19: Immigration Update (English)
Please note these important announcements which may affect your immigration case. Indiana Legal Services will continue to provide updates as the situation unfolds.
Updated: January 19, 2021
The Immigrants’ and Language Rights Center
The Immigrants’ and Language Rights Center (ILRC) of Indiana Legal Services remains open and accessible to the public. To apply for legal assistance, please call our toll-free intake line at 1-866-964-2138 or online at www.indianalegalservices.org. For other immigration-related inquiries, contact ILRC.email@example.com.
USCIS Indianapolis Field Office
Certain USCIS field offices and asylum offices resumed non-emergency face-to-face services to the public on June 4, 2020 including the Indianapolis field office. To help prevent the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), precautions are established in reopened facilities.
If you have an interview or biometrics appointment be sure to read your appointment notice carefully. Appointment notices will include more instructions for visiting USCIS facilities and what documentation to bring with you. USCIS field offices do not allow walk-ins; You must have an appointment to visit an office.
If you require emergency assistance, you can go to www.uscis.gov/contactcenter.
Non-Detained Court Hearings in Chicago
Certain immigration courts have resumed non-detained hearings, including the Chicago Immigration court. Hearings in non-detained cases at courts without an announced date are postponed through, and including, February 5, 2021.
Detained cases will be heard as scheduled, but attorneys may file continuances if appropriate. Necessary court filings should still be mailed to the Court if required, and deadlines must be followed.
For case-specific information (case status and hearing date information), you may call the automated case information hotline at 1-800-898-7180 or visit the Automated Case Information portal at https://portal.eoir.justice.gov/InfoSystem/Form?Language=EN
If your case was postponed, a new hearing notice will be sent out. Following the issuance of a new hearing notice, such information will be updated on the system. We advise you verify your case status before traveling to Chicago to confirm your hearing is still moving forward.
ICE Office in Indianapolis
The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) offices will be limiting operations. Individuals with check-in appointments scheduled should contact the local field office for additional guidance prior to their scheduled appointment. The ICE Indianapolis Field Office will still allow individuals to pay a bond for a detainee in custody, to fix a broken GPS ankle monitor, or to file legal documents. If the office is closed to visitors, a notice will be posted at the ICE office and you should expect a new appointment notice in the mail, however, you may contact the local ICE office regarding any scheduled check-in appointments.
The Intensive Supervision Appearance Program (ISAP) remains open at this time. Continue scheduled appointments with ISAP until instructed otherwise. Continue to attend required appointments with ISAP.
Public Charge and COVID-19
USCIS encourages all individuals, including immigrants, with symptoms that resemble Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) to seek necessary medical treatment or preventative services. Such treatment and services will NOT affect any immigrant as part of a future public charge analysis. The Public Charge rule does not restrict access to testing, screening, treatment, or necessary vaccines for children or adults to prevent vaccine-preventable diseases or illnesses.
On February 24, 2020, USCIS implemented the Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds final rule. In making this determination, USCIS considers the receipt of public benefits as a consideration among a number of other factors in the totality of the immigrant’s circumstances over a period of time with no single factor being outcome determinative. USCIS will not consider any COVID-19 related treatments in this analysis even if such treatment is provided or paid for by public benefits (such as Medicaid).
The U.S. Department of State (DOS) has not confirmed whether treatment or care related to COVID-19 will be considered as part of its public charge totality of the circumstances analysis.
In addition, if the immigrant subject to the Public Charge rule lives or works in a jurisdiction subject to social distancing and quarantine, causing a loss in income, the immigrant may submit a statement with his or her application for benefit to explain how the practices temporarily limited or restricted access to income. USCIS will take such evidence into consideration in the totality of the immigrant’s circumstances.
In general, unemployment insurance payments are not taken into consideration by DHS for purposes of making a public charge determination.
Because the CARES Act stimulus checks are structured as automatically advanced tax credits to be disbursed by the Treasury Department, these credits are not taken into account for the purpose of a public charge determination by DHS or the U.S. State Department.
Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) provides nutritional resources to families who have lost access to free or reduced-price school meals due to school closures due to COVID-19. Families will receive money on a new or existing EBT card to help fill the school meals gap. School meal programs, including P-EBT, are not considered public benefits under the public charge inadmissibility determination.
The CARES ACT and coronavirus relief package- Accessibility for Immigrant Communities
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed by Congress in the spring of 2020 provided rebates (stimulus checks) to U.S. citizens and certain non-citizens. Eligible individuals with an adjusted gross income up to $75,000 can receive a one-time payment of $1,200. Married couples filing a joint tax return are eligible to receive a payment of $2,400, as long as their adjusted gross income is less than $150,000. If an immigrant filed taxes with a valid social security number and as a resident for tax purposes, they should have received a $1,200 rebate check. To receive the additional $500 credit for a “qualified child,” the child must also have a social security number. Those immigrants that have filed with an ITIN numbers were ineligible to access the fund. Families with mixed immigration status, where one family member filed tax returns with an ITIN, disqualified the entire family from receiving stimulus funds.
Another round of stimulus checks currently is being distributed across the country, “the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021”. The second stimulus package has specific eligibility requirements for who can receive a stimulus check. Lawful permanent residents and some qualifying resident aliens with Social Security Numbers will receive a payment. It is also possible to be a qualifying resident alien without having a green card. Under IRS guidelines, this includes people who are physically present in the U.S. on at least 31 days during the current year, 183 days in the past three years (including the current year) and have a valid Social Security number for employment. These individuals cannot be claimed as a dependent of another taxpayer in order to be eligible for a stimulus check.
There is one specific difference with this stimulus package compared to the CARES Act. The most recent stimulus package now includes families with mixed immigration status; US citizens and permanent residents who filed a joint tax return with an undocumented spouse (previously excluded from stimulus relief), will receive a check for $600, as well as $600 per dependent child. The law also allows households with at least one family member who has a Social Security number to retroactively receive checks for up to $1,200 and an additional $500 per child under the last round of stimulus relief enacted in late March.