USCIS Updates Guidances and Policies for Benefits Applications

Be careful petitioners and applicants, your application for immigration benefits may be denied if you do not have all evidence to prove you are eligible. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) issued a new memo, to give its officers the right to deny visas if applications do not include all the necessary information when submitted.

CIS officers no longer need to first seeking additional evidence that might be needed to complete an application, or issuing a notice stating the intent to deny a request to adjudicate.

USCIS announced recently that it would also begin initiating removal/deportation proceedings against visa applicants who lack immigration status when their visa applications are denied.  For example, if you are are out of status when you applied for change of status, therefore, you are ineligible to change status, CIS will deny your application and start removal proceedings. Or you may be a F-1 student applying for the H-1b lottery, but due to all sorts of administrative delays, your H-1b is not adjudicate until your F-1 expired, and then unfortunately it gets denied and you are out of status. CIS can also place you in removal proceedings.

Despite CIS saying the new memos are “not intended to penalize filers for innocent mistakes or misunderstandings of evidentiary requirements,” it certainly feels that way. Immigration enforcement has always been the realm of ICE, not CIS. USCIS adjudications are often inconsistent and often arbitrary. Applicants have the choices to appeal CIS decision or to seek review, and such options will be lost.

USCIS to Conduct In-Person Interviews for Employment Based Green Card Applications and Refugee/Asylee Relative Petitions

Stating 10/1/2017, employment based green card Applicants will need to attend in person interviews

On August 28, 2017, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it will start conducting in-person interviews for permanent resident “green card” applications, effective Oct. 1. USCIS will start interviewing the following two categories of green card applicants:

  • Employment-based adjustment of status applications;
  • Refugee/asylee relative petitions (Form I-730, Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition) for beneficiaries who are in the United States and are petitioning to join a principal asylee/refugee applicant.

USCIS stated the changes is to improve the detection and prevention of immigration fraud pursuant to Executive Order 13780, “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States.” USCIS is planning an incremental expansion of interviews to other benefit types.

The two categories of immigrants were not subject to in-person interviews before. Employees who are applying for adjustment of status based on qualifying jobs are in the United States with valid non-immigrant status.

Read AILA 2017-18 President-Elect, ‘s thoughts on this issue.

USCIS Implements New Interpreter Policy – Form G-1256 Declaration for Interpreted USCIS Interview Must be Signed

USCIS Policy Memorandum: The Role and Use of Interpreters in Domestic Field Office Interviews, will be implemented starting May 1, 2017.

USCIS is introducing a “Declaration for Interpreted USCIS Interview” form (Form G-1256). The “Declaration for Interpreted USCIS Interview” informs the interviewee about the importance of using a competent interpreter, and includes an attestation that all parties understand the guidelines that apply to interpretation, including that the interpreter must accurately, literally, and fully interpret for both the interviewee and the interviewer/officer. USCIS requires that the interpreter provide consecutive interpretation to ensure that the interpretation is as close to verbatim as possible.

Form G-1256 must be signed by both the interviewee and the interpreter at the beginning of the interview. The Declaration form reminds the interviewee that the use of an interpreter may expose the interpreter to the confidential information discussed at the time of the interview. It also requires the interpreter to agree to not disclose or share any of the information discussed or learned as a result of serving as the interpreter during the interview.

Attorneys may not serve in their roles as an attorney, accredited representative, or associated representative for the party to the case while simultaneously serving as an interpreter for the interviewee. Further, witnesses are restricted from serving as interpreters, unless the officer determines that there is an exception for good cause.