USCIS Updates Policy Guidance for Certain Requests for Evidence and Notices of Intent to Deny

On July 13, 2018, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a Policy Memorandum (PM) that provides guidance to USCIS adjudicators regarding their discretion to deny an application, petition, or request without first issuing a Request for Evidence (RFE) or Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID) when required initial evidence was not submitted or the evidence of record fails to establish eligibility.

This updated guidance is effective September 11, 2018 and applies to all applications, petitions, and requests, except for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) adjudications, received after that date. Due to preliminary injunctions issued by courts in California and New York, this new PM does not change the RFE and NOID policies and practices that apply to the adjudication of DACA requests. USCIS states that this policy restores to the adjudicator full discretion to deny applications, petitions, and requests without first issuing an RFE or a NOID, when appropriate.

This policy is intended to discourage frivolous or substantially incomplete filings used as “placeholder” filings and encourage applicants, petitioners, and requestors to be diligent in collecting and submitting required evidence.

“For too long, our immigration system has been bogged down with frivolous or meritless claims that slow down processing for everyone, including legitimate petitioners. Through this long overdue policy change, USCIS is restoring full discretion to our immigration officers to deny incomplete and ineligible applications and petitions submitted for immigration benefits,” said USCIS Director L. Francis Cissna. “Doing so will discourage frivolous filings and skeletal applications used to game the system, ensure our resources are not wasted, and ultimately improve our agency’s ability to efficiently and fairly adjudicate requests for immigration benefits in full accordance with our laws.” https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/USCIS/Laws/Memoranda/AFM_10_Standards_for_RFEs_and_NOIDs_FINAL2.pdf

August Visa Bulletin Update: USCIS to Honor Employment- Based Final Action Dates Only Next Month

In August, USCIS will only accept employment-based adjustment applications from foreign nationals with a priority date that is current for final action under the State Department’s August Visa Bulletin. USCIS will continue to accept, through July 31, adjustment of status applications according to the July Visa Bulletin final action dates, even for EB-1 categories that were immediately retrogressed by the State Department on July 13, 2018.

DHS Secretary Kirstjen M. Nielson Announcement on TPS for Somalia

On July 19, 2018 Secretary of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Nielsen, announced an extension of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Somalia beneficiaries would be granted until March 17, 2020. After carefully reviewing conditions in Somalia with interagency partners, Secretary Nielsen determined the ongoing armed conflict and extraordinary and temporary conditions that support Somalia’s current designation for TPS continue to exist. Therefore, pursuant to the statute, she has extended Somalia’s TPS designation for 18 months.

To review the brief statement, please see: Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Nielsen Announcement on Temporary Protected Status for Somalia