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Iowa Immigration Law Blog: California Service Center Temporary Closure for Plumbing Problems - March 26, 2013

One of the four main processing centers for immigration benefits applications has temporarily closed because of flooding from plumbing problems, USCIS announced today, March 26.

Deliveries by UPS and Fed Ex during the last couple of days have been delayed and the delay will continue to during the closure.  US Postal Service deliveries go to a PO box off-site and apparently were not delayed per se, although USCIS does not consider USPS filings to be received until the PO box deliveries are picked up and taken to the Service Center (which is an odd rule given that both are federal government agencies).

The announcement did not indicate whether application processing would continue.  Adjudicators are often able to work from home (and do so in the ordinary course of business), but how much work can be done while the center is closed is unclear.

As CSC is one of the two sites that accept and process H-1B filings, the closure is particularly concerning so close to the April 1 filing date.

However, the government is well-aware of the upcoming deadline and we will closely watch for any instructions regarding H-1B filings in light of the situation at CSC.

When CSC re-opens, it will be important to watch the receipt dates on I-797 notices if the date would affect your case.  If the case was filed during the closure, you should retain your shipping receipts or print out shipping information on-line to prove when the application was actually sent and delivery attempted.  Beneficiaries should not be harmed by the closure, which is beyond their control, but proof of timely filing will be needed to make this argument.

Premium processing has not been suspended, so applications filed in that manner should be adjudicated in 15 calendar days, or the petitioner is entitled to a refund of the $1225 filing fee.