USCIS Issues Policy Updates to Improve Immigration Processes

The Biden Administration has committed to reviewing current immigration regulations and policies to identify ways to improve the United States’ immigration system. Recent policy changes include broader criteria for expedited processing, more generous RFE practices, and extended work and travel authorization for green card applicants.

USCIS building

On June 9, 2021, USCIS made three significant announcements for policy changes that improve immigration services for benefit requestors.

1. USCIS Clarified and Expanded Access to Expedited Processing

USCIS considers requests for expedited processing on a case-by-case basis and has sole discretion to grant expedited processing. In recent years, USCIS has rarely granted these requests. Last week’s update to the USCIS Policy Manual provides detailed explanations of the criteria USCIS considers when expediting a benefit request, including explaining USCIS’ process for considering these requests.

The most common basis for expedite requests is severe financial loss for a company or a person. USCIS’ new guidance explains circumstances that can demonstrate severe financial loss to warrant expedited processing such as:

  • A business is at risk of failing
  • A business will lose a critical contract
  • A business will be required to lay off other employees
  • A person’s job loss will cause severe financial hardship in their individual circumstances
  • A person will lose critical benefits

USCIS confirmed that they do not generally honor expedited requests where premium processing is available, and they also will not grant expedited processing where the need for urgent action results from applicant or petitioner failure to timely file or respond to USCIS requests.

The new guidance also allows qualifying nonprofit and cultural organizations to request expedited processing where there is benefit to interests of the United States.

2. Requests for Evidence and Notices of Intent to Deny

USCIS is returning to longstanding adjudicatory practices in place from June 2013 to July 2018, which direct USCIS officers to issue Requests for Evidence (RFEs) and Notices of Intent to Deny (NOID) where additional evidence could demonstrate eligibility for a requested immigration benefit.

This action included rescinding a July 2018 policy memorandum that expanded USCIS officers’ discretion to deny applications and petitions without first issuing an RFE or NOID in cases that are filed without required initial evidence. With this return to prior position, USCIS will now give benefit requestors an opportunity to correct mistakes and unintentional omissions through RFE and NOID responses.

3. Employment Authorization Documents

USCIS will begin issuing 2-year initial and renewal EADs for certain adjustment of status applicants. Increasing the validity period of these EADs from 1 year to 2 years will reduce the number of EAD applications USCIS receives, freeing up agency resources and hopefully reducing the time it now takes the USCIS to process EAD applications.

Contact your Parker Gallini attorney with any questions about the status of USCIS policy changes and any impact to your case.

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Posted in Immigration Law

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