June 19, 2021

Volume XI, Number 170

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DHS Issues New Policies on Expedited Processing, Requests for Evidence, and More

Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas has announced several new USCIS policies meant to improve the legal immigration system, eliminate barriers, and reduce burdens on applicants.

He issued the following new policies:

  1. Expedite Criteria

USCIS generally does not consider expedite requests for petitions and applications where Premium Processing Service is available. However, a petitioner that is designated as a nonprofit organization by the IRS acting in furtherance of the cultural and social interests of the United States may now request that the benefit it seeks be expedited without a fee, even if premium processing is available for that benefit. Of course, USCIS retains discretion to deny that request.

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

In 2018, during the Trump Administration, USCIS issued a policy that permitted agency officers to deny certain immigration benefit requests without first issuing an RFE or a NOID. This meant that some petitioners or beneficiaries would not have an opportunity to fix minor errors or provide more documentation. Instead, they would have to file motions to reopen, appeals, or simply reapply. The updated policy restores those opportunities by noting that RFEs or NOIDs should be issued (before a denial) if there is a possibility the petitioner or applicant can overcome ineligibility by submitting additional evidence. The policy also emphasizes that unnecessary RFEs or NOIDs should not be issued.

  1. Employment Authorization Documents

The new policy increases current one-year validity period to two years for certain adjustment of status applicants. This should reduce the number of EAD applications that must be filed – helping USCIS – and mean that applicants will less frequently become subject to gaps in employment authorization due to USCIS backlogs.

These three changes will help reduce backlogs at USCIS and give some petitioners and applicants ways to avoid those backlogs.

Jackson Lewis P.C. © 2021National Law Review, Volume XI, Number 161
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About this Author

Forrest G. Read IV, Immigration, Employment, Attorney, Jackson Lewis, Law Firm
Principal

Forrest Read is a Principal in the Washington, D.C. Region office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He has extensive experience in both business immigration law and employment law and has special expertise in legal issues in graduate medical education (GME).

Mr. Read's immigration practice focuses on assisting employers in obtaining employment-based nonimmigrant visas (e.g., H-1B, L, O, TN) for foreign national employees and work-related immigrant (green card) visas, including PERM Labor Certifications, and advising employers on compliance with U.S. immigration laws and...

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