Seyfarth Shaw’s Immigration Practice Group has learned that United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), in a shift from prior policy, is likely to announce in a few weeks that it will no longer accept signature authorizations or powers of attorney for immigration filings submitted to USCIS.

As clients of Seyfarth Shaw are aware, signature authorization has been one of the components of our SeyfarthLean approach to service delivery. Signature authorizations and powers of attorney have allowed us, with client consent, to accelerate the filing process, reduce processing times and eliminate most overnight courier costs.

USCIS has recently rejected a number of filings where lawyers across the country have submitted a signature authorization or power of attorney on behalf of the employer, the foreign-citizen employee or a family member. As reported in a February 5, 2010 blog posting by Seyfarth Immigration Partner Angelo Paparelli, USCIS had briefly posted but then withdrew a January 19, 2010 policy memorandum on its website announcing that the agency would no longer accept signature authorizations and powers of attorney.

On February 17, 2010, USCIS announced during a stakeholder teleconference that it would soon make a formal announcement that the agency would no longer accept signature authorizations or powers of attorney. According to USCIS, the new policy, intended to enhance “program integrity” and reduce fraud, will not be implemented until after April 1, 2010— the date that USCIS begins accepting H-1B cap filings for the coming 2011 fiscal year. Thus, powers of attorney may be used during this year’s H-1B filing season.