Last week, United State Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released a Policy Memorandum. This memo outlines new policies related to the issuance of Requests for Evidence (RFE) and Notices of Intent to Deny (NOID). In the past when an application or petition was submitted to USCIS and an officer was unable to make a decision based on the information submitted, USCIS policy was to request additional or initial evidence from the applicant or petitioner before making a final decision. This past policy required the officer to deny cases at initial intake only if there was “no possibility” that a deficiency can be overcome. Effectively allowing for summary denial only if there was no statutory possibility of the benefit.
This new policy memorandum gives USCIS officers immediate discretion to deny applications and petitions that might be missing some initial evidence. To illustrate, the memo provides an example of when an application that requires an affidavit of support but the affidavit is not included, the officer can deny the application immediately. This means that a person who files an I-485 and pays the $1225 filing fee can have their fees kept and application denied without any notice from USCIS, just for lacking the affidavit of support. It is simple for USCIS to issue an RFE or NOID, but now they can summarily reject the adjustment of status application.
Applications and petitions for immigration benefits are complex. A petition or application can reach hundreds of pages and require a hundred hours to prepare. The cost of having to repetition after a summary denial could be staggering. Consequences related to the denial could be devastating if it causes a beneficiary to become out of status and accrue unlawful presence. This new policy further complicates the process of legal immigration, as you now may only have one chance when submitting to USCIS.
We cannot stress to you enough the importance this adds that you speak to an immigration lawyer before seeking immigration benefits. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (513) 913-9545.