I want to make sure you are aware of two major policy changes that were recently announced by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. I believe these policies will significantly impact immigration cases filed in the future, as well as applications that are currently pending.
Immigration Officers can Deny Applications Without Issuing a Request for Additional Information
New policy giving officers discretion to deny applications without issuing a request for additional information if the basic required information is not submitted or the information submitted does not show that the person is eligible to apply:
On July 13, 2018, USCIS announced that officers will now have the discretion to deny applications without first issuing a Request for Evidence (RFE) or Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID) “when required initial evidence was not submitted or the evidence of record fails to establish eligibility.” We will see how USCIS officers implement this change, which will take effect on September 11, 2018. Some possibilities are:
- Applications submitted without the basic required information will be receipted in and then denied, which would mean applicants lose the filing fee amounts they pay and have to pay them again when they re-submit their applications.
- Officers issue denials based on their opinion of a case, whereas in the past, an officer would issue an RFE or NOID to give the person applying for immigration benefits a chance to address issues or explain more before a decision is made
- Officers may issue denials of cases that are approvable simply because information contained in the application packet is overlooked or misunderstood.
More Denied Immigration Applicants Will Have to go to Court
A new policy that Immigration Service will issue notices for you, the applicant, to go to immigration court if an application is denied.
USCIS has also announced an expanded policy of referring cases to Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) to issue Notices to Appear in Immigration Court. UCSIS has always had the ability to refer a person’s case to ICE, but often used this in a limited way, where national security concerns were at stake, a person had a criminal record making him a danger to the public, or had TPS or DACA and did something that caused him to lose that protection. However, under the new policy, USCIS will now refer cases to ICE in the following situations:
- Cases where they have evidence that a person committed fraud or misrepresentation
- Cases where an applicant abused any public benefit
- Criminal cases where an applicant is convicted of or charged with a criminal offense, or has committed acts that are chargeable as a criminal offense (in these cases USCIS may refer a case to ICE for issuance of a Notice to Appear in Immigration Court while the application is still pending with USCIS)
- Cases involving an application for naturalization where the individual has a criminal offense that would show that he does not qualify for citizenship due to lack of good moral character
- Cases where a person will be unlawfully present in the US if their application is denied
These new policies may have very serious consequences. If you know someone who is considering filing an application for immigration status or immigration benefits, or has one pending, please let them know that it's important to be deliberate about what they file and be prepared for appearances at government offices.
If someone you know needs assistance with their immigration matters, please have them contact my office to schedule a consultation to review their individual situation and make sure they understand what to expect in their process. This is a time to be serious and deliberate about your immigration case. We want to help you get through your process, so please contact us if you need help.