Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas has announced several new USCIS policies meant to improve the legal immigration system, eliminate barriers, and reduce burdens on applicants.
He issued the following new policies:
- Expedite Criteria
USCIS generally does not consider expedite requests for petitions and applications where Premium Processing Service is available. However, a petitioner that is designated as a nonprofit organization by the IRS acting in furtherance of the cultural and social interests of the United States may now request that the benefit it seeks be expedited without a fee, even if premium processing is available for that benefit. Of course, USCIS retains discretion to deny that request.
- Requests for Evidence (RFEs) and Notices of Intent to Deny (NOIDs)
In 2018, during the Trump Administration, USCIS issued a policy that permitted agency officers to deny certain immigration benefit requests without first issuing an RFE or a NOID. This meant that some petitioners or beneficiaries would not have an opportunity to fix minor errors or provide more documentation. Instead, they would have to file motions to reopen, appeals, or simply reapply. The updated policy restores those opportunities by noting that RFEs or NOIDs should be issued (before a denial) if there is a possibility the petitioner or applicant can overcome ineligibility by submitting additional evidence. The policy also emphasizes that unnecessary RFEs or NOIDs should not be issued.
- Employment Authorization Documents
The new policy increases current one-year validity period to two years for certain adjustment of status applicants. This should reduce the number of EAD applications that must be filed – helping USCIS – and mean that applicants will less frequently become subject to gaps in employment authorization due to USCIS backlogs.
These three changes will help reduce backlogs at USCIS and give some petitioners and applicants ways to avoid those backlogs.
Jackson Lewis attorneys are available to assist you in understanding how these changes will affect your immigration matters.