June 15, 2021 Newsletter Powered by ABIL

USCIS Updates Policies to Improve Immigration Services: Expedited Processing, RFEs/NOIDs, EADs

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued new policy updates to clarify the criteria and circumstances for expedited processing; improve guidance for requests for evidence (RFE) and notices of intent to deny (NOID); and increase the validity period for initial and renewal employment authorization documents (EADs) for certain noncitizens with pending adjustment of status applications.

Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas said the agency is “taking action to eliminate policies that fail to promote access to the legal immigration system, and will continue

to make improvements that help individuals navigate the path to citizenship, and that modernize our immigration system.” Acting USCIS Director Tracy Renaud said that USCIS is “committed to promoting policies and procedures that ensure we operate in a fair, efficient, and humane manner that reflects America’s heritage as a land of opportunity for those who seek it.”

Highlights of the updates include:

Expedited Processing

USCIS is providing enhanced guidance to clarify when expedited processing of a benefit request may be warranted. The new guidance also permits nonprofit organizations whose request is “in furtherance of the cultural and social interests of the United States” to request that a benefit be considered for expedited processing regardless of whether premium processing is available for that benefit.

Requests for Evidence (RFEs) and Notices of Intent to Deny (NOIDs)

USCIS is returning to the adjudicative principles of a June 2013 memo, and is rescinding a July 2018 memo that allowed agency officers to deny certain immigration benefit requests instead of first issuing an RFE or NOID. The updated policy will give benefit requestors “an opportunity to correct innocent mistakes and unintentional omissions.”

Employment Authorization Documents (EADs)

The one-year validity period on both initial and renewal EADs is increased to two years for certain adjustment-of-status applicants. This is expected “to reduce the number of employment authorization requests USCIS receives and allow the agency to shift limited resources to other priority areas.”

Details:

  • USCIS notice, https://www.uscis.gov/news/news-releases/uscis-updates-policies-to-improve-immigration-services
  • “Policy Alert: USCIS Expedite Criteria and Circumstances,” PA-2021-12, USCIS, June 9, 2021, https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/document/policy-manual-updates/20210609-ExpediteCriteria.pdf · “How to Make an Expedite Request,” USCIS, https://www.uscis.gov/forms/filing-guidance/how-to-make-an-expedite-request
  • “Policy Alert: Requests for Evidence and Notices of Intent to Deny,” PA-2021-11, USCIS, June 9, 2021, https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/document/policy-manual-updates/20210609-RFEs%26NOIDs.pdf
  • “Policy Alert: Employment Authorization for Certain Adjustment Applicants,” PA-2021-10, USCIS, June 9, 2021, https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/document/policy-manual-updates/20210609-EmploymentAuthorization.pdf · USCIS Policy Manual, https://www.uscis.gov/policy-manual

USCIS Announces Lockbox Filing Flexibilities

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced filing flexibilities to provide relief to certain applicants and petitioners affected by delays at a USCIS lockbox. These flexibilities only apply to benefit requests submitted to a USCIS lockbox and not to USCIS service centers or field offices, the agency said.

The following temporary flexibilities are effective until August 9, 2021:

  • If an applicant/petitioner submitted a benefit request to a USCIS lockbox between October 1, 2020, and April 1, 2021, and that request was rejected during that timeframe solely due to a filing fee payment that expired while the benefit request was awaiting processing, the applicant/petitioner may resubmit the request with a new fee payment. If USCIS concurs that it rejected the benefit request because of the delay, USCIS will deem the request to have been received on the initial filing date it was first received and waive the $30 dishonored check fee.
  • USCIS will allow applicants/petitioners to submit documentation with a benefit request resubmission demonstrating that because of the time that elapsed between when a benefit request was originally submitted to a USCIS lockbox and when USCIS rejected it, an applicant, co-applicant, beneficiary, or derivative has reached an age that makes them no longer eligible to file for the benefit requested. If USCIS agrees that the delayed rejection caused the person to be ineligible due to age, USCIS will accept the request and deem it to have been received on the date the initial benefit request was received. This flexibility does not apply to Form N-600K, Application for Citizenship and Issuance of Certificate Under Section 322.

Applicants and petitioners can contact USCIS to verify that previously filed benefit requests were not rejected in error. If USCIS concurs, it may allow applicants and petitioners to resubmit an erroneously rejected benefit request and deem the benefit request to have been received on the date the initial benefit request was first received at a USCIS lockbox, the agency said.

Details:

  • USCIS notice, https://www.uscis.gov/news/alerts/uscis-announces-lockbox-filing-flexibilities



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