USCIS issued new policy guidance today (copied below) that is very concerning. For most types of cases, USCIS will not issue “requests for further evidence” (RFE) of “notices of intent to deny” (NOID) and will go straight to denial “if the record does not establish eligibility”. This policy will apply to most visa categories whether family-based or employment-based.
Last week, USCIS issued a new policy that, when a visa is denied, it will issue “notices to appear’ (NTA)– a document that put people into removal (deportation) proceedings.
Taking today’s new memo coupled with last week’s NTA memo, we will be facing serious challenges in the near future. I will write more soon.
|WASHINGTON – U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) today posted a policy memorandum (PDF, 113 KB) (PM) that provides guidance to USCIS adjudicators regarding their discretion to deny an application, petition, or request 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.
This updated guidance is effective September 11, 2018 and applies to all applications, petitions, and requests, except for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) adjudications, received after that date. Due to preliminary injunctions issued by courts in California and New York, this new PM does not change the RFE and NOID policies and practices that apply to the adjudication of DACA requests.
“For too long, our immigration system has been bogged down with frivolous or meritless claims that slow down processing for everyone, including legitimate petitioners. Through this long overdue policy change, USCIS is restoring full discretion to our immigration officers to deny incomplete and ineligible applications and petitions submitted for immigration benefits,” said USCIS Director L. Francis Cissna. “Doing so will discourage frivolous filings and skeletal applications used to game the system, ensure our resources are not wasted, and ultimately improve our agency’s ability to efficiently and fairly adjudicate requests for immigration benefits in full accordance with our laws.”
The 2013 PM addressed policies for the issuance of RFEs and NOIDs when the evidence submitted at the time of filing did not establish eligibility. In practice, the 2013 PM limited denials without RFEs or NOIDs to statutory denials by providing that RFEs should be issued unless there was “no possibility” of approval. This “no possibility” policy limited the application of an adjudicator’s discretion.
The policy implemented in this guidance restores to the adjudicator full discretion to deny applications, petitions, and requests without first issuing an RFE or a NOID, when appropriate. This policy is intended to discourage frivolous or substantially incomplete filings used as “placeholder” filings and encourage applicants, petitioners, and requestors to be diligent in collecting and submitting required evidence.
USCIS will continue issuing statutory denials when appropriate without first issuing an RFE or NOID when the applicant, petitioner, or requestor has no legal basis for the benefit/request sought, or submits a request for a benefit or relief under a program that has been terminated.
This PM updates Chapters 10.5(a) and 10.5(b) of the USCIS Adjudicator’s Field Manual and contains an “additional considerations” section. The policy in this “additional considerations” section is not new, and is nearly identical to the policy contained in the superseded 2013 PM.
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