U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services updates Policy to Improve Legal Immigration Processes

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has issued policy updates on June 9, 2021 to be included in their Policy Manual for immigration benefits.

The key policy updates are discussed below:

  • Expedited Processing: Expedited processing for pending immigration benefits has always been possible. With this updated policy, applicants for immigration benefits and USCIS adjudicating officers now have further guidance as to when expedited processing may be warranted. Expedite criteria now listed in the Policy Manual include the following:
  • Severe financial loss to a company or person, provided that the need for urgent action is not the result of the petitioner’s or applicant’s failure: (1) to timely file the benefit request; or (2) to timely respond to any requests for additional evidence;
  • Emergencies and urgent humanitarian reasons;
  • Requests from nonprofit organization (as designated by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)) in furtherance of the cultural and social interests of the United States; U.S. government interests (including urgent cases for federal agencies such as the U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Department of Labor, DHS or other public safety or national security interests); or Clear USCIS error.

Except for requests from nonprofit organizations, this updated guidance also confirms that expedite requests will not be considered for cases where premium processing is available, which is unfortunate since the premium processing fee is $2,500.

  • Requests for Evidence (RFEs) and Notices of Intent to Deny (NOIDs): The updated USCIS Policy provides that instructing officers shall issue a request for evidence (RFE) or notice of intent to deny (NOID) when additional evidence could potentially demonstrate eligibility for an immigration benefit. By taking this action, USCIS is also rescinding a July 2018 memo that officers the authority to deny outright certain immigration petitions or applications without first issuing an RFE or NOID.
  • Employment Authorization Documents (EAD): The new updated policy also increases the validity period of employment authorization documents (EADs) for adjustment of status applicants to two years – an increase from the prior one-year validity period. This two-year validity applies to both initial and renewal EAD applications. This additional year of validity will help applicants in reducing or possibly eliminating the need to file for EAD extensions. It also helps the agency by allowing it to shift resources to other areas.

*Tanvi Singh, Editorial Assistant has put this story together.

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