The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that, effective Jan. 27, 2015, systemic changes will be made with regard to the issuance of decisions and correspondence, affecting activities such as status notification and documentation related to permanent residence.

What follows is a summary of key changes that employers, foreign-national workers, and their counsel should be aware of:

  • Where Documents Will Be Sent
    • Current USCIS practice generally entails sending original notices and documents to the individual, petitioner, or applicant who requested the relief. If the applicant/petitioner is represented by counsel, the agency typically sends a courtesy copy to his or her attorney as well.
    • Under the final rule, unrepresented individuals will continue to receive directly all notices and documents. For individuals and employers that are represented by an attorney, USCIS will now send original versions of all documents to both the applicant/petitioner and the attorney as a default procedure. For applications filed electronically, USCIS will transmit notifications to both the applicant/petitioner as well as to his or her attorney of record.
  • I-94s Will Continue to Be Sent to the Attorney
    • In revising the regulations, USCIS has memorialized the current practice of sending an I-797 approval notice that includes an I-94 to the attorney of record if one exists. A tear-off I-94 reflecting either a change of status or an extension of status is printed at the bottom of certain I-797 approval notices. The I-94 is a crucial document to retain due to the fact that it evinces the immigration status and the duration of said status of the immigrant applicant in question. By default, USCIS will send such notices to the official business address of the applicant’s lawyer, unless informed that it should do otherwise.
  • Original Documents Such As Green Cards
    • USCIS will continue sending original, secure documents only to the foreign national, unless specifically directed to send such documents to his or her attorney. Examples of such documents include the employment authorization document (EAD) and the permanent resident card (Green Card/I-551).