USCIS extends RFE response dates
US IMMIGRATION NOTES - Atty. Marco F.G. Tomakin (The Freeman) - May 3, 2020 - 12:00am

The US Citizenship and Immigration Services has issued a guidance that it is extending the flexibilities it announced on March 30 to assist applicants and petitioners responding to Requests for Evidence; Continuations to Request Evidence; Notices of Intent to Deny; Notices of Intent to Revoke; Notices of Intent to Rescind, and Notices of Intent to Terminate regional investment centers; and filing date requirements for Form I-290B, Notice of Appeal or Motion.

For the Notice, Request and Decision, if the issuance date listed on the request, notice, or decision is between March 1 and July 1, 2020, the response must be received by USCIS within 60 calendar days after the response due date set in the request or notice before taking action. USCIS will also consider a Form I-290B received up to 60 calendar days from the date of the decision before it takes any action.

This latest guidance forms part of the continuing efforts by USCIS to give ample time to respondents knowing fully well that the current COVID-19 pandemic is affecting us all.

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It’s an undeniable fact that Filipino healthcare workers all around the world are at the frontlines in the battle against COVID-19. As such, there have been quite a number of fatalities already in the US, UK, Middle East, and other places. In the Philippines alone, there are already more than 1,300 healthcare workers who tested positive for COVID-19. These nurses, doctors, therapists, lab technicians, support staff, and emergency responders are all hailed as heroes. Rightly so, as they bravely go to work every day, knowing any time they may be infected by COVID-19. This is a huge sacrifice on their part as they leave their families behind and are still even separated from them when they go back home.

It’s for this reason that some local healthcare workers here in Cebu told me about their need to have a safe temporary housing arrangement near their workplace. We heard reports that a nurse wasn’t allowed to enter her barangay when she went home, or some healthcare workers were being blamed for bringing coronavirus to their towns. I know one who pays P500 a day because her working hours end so late at night that sometimes she misses the free transportation provided by her employer.

Also, after working eight- to 12-hour shifts, who still has the energy to line up for public transportation going home? And when you have elderly parents or have your own family, you don’t want to become a carrier yourself and unknowingly infect the people you love.

I know there’s a hotel that provides free accommodation to healthcare workers and there’s also the Bradford United Church of Christ, Inc. which converted their classrooms into a temporary dormitory managed by Cebu City. However, there were some concerns of possible cross-contamination between healthcare workers so some frontliners have reservations.

I hope that owners of hotels, pension and lodging houses, especially those located within midtown Cebu, will open up their doors in order to accommodate our healthcare workers. These medical professionals have already sacrificed so much, let’s not burden them anymore by not giving them a free room to rest in.

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