USCIS Policy Change Affects New Applicants

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(Español) In a radical new change to policy, starting September 11, 2018, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will begin adjudicating certain applications without the opportunity for the applicant to submit additional evidence. Almost all immigration applications, petitions, and requests, including naturalization, adjustment of status, and visa extensions will be affected by this new guideline. Previously, if the applicant had missing information or documentation, USCIS would issue a Request for Evidence (RFE) or Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID) to give the applicant time to submit the additional documents or information needed. Under the new guidelines, adjudicators of the applications are given broad discretion as to whether or not deny applications before informing the applicant.

This can have vastly negative effects on those seeking to legally adjust status or petition for other benefits. With the potential of adding thousands of dollars to an already expensive process, the applicant could also find themselves in removal proceedings or deported from the United States, depending on the circumstances of their case.

According to USCIS, the new guidelines are meant to streamline the process of applying for immigration benefits for qualified applicants. USCIS Director L. Francis Cissna states the “immigration system has been bogged down with frivolous or meritless claims that slow down the processing for everyone, including legitimate petitioners.”

Immigration experts warn potential applicants to be prepared to submit the full scope of documentation with the initial application. Otherwise, the potential applicants risk having the application denied and placed into removal proceedings. This new policy comes on the heels of the administration’s attempt to limit immigration, both legal and illegal, while circumventing Congress. The full range of consequences of this new policy has yet to be felt as any applications submitted prior to September 11, 2018, will still be subject to RFE or NOID.