USCIS has changed its policy regarding the way it handles applications that are missing certain documentation. According to a memorandum issued in June and entered into effect on September 11, 2018 now USCIS may deny applications that have been filed without all the necessary documentation without issuing “Requests for Evidence (RFE)” or “Notices of Intent of Denial (NOID)”. This is makes it more important than ever that one makes sure that all the necessary forms and documentation are present and well-prepared when one is applying for an immigration benefit.
In the past, the common practice for USCIS was to issue RFEs or NOIDs for applications that were missing documentation or forms that were part of a packet application. The procedure was that the officer reviewing the case would notice the deficiency and issue these notifications in order to give the applicant the opportunity to correct the mistake or supplement the omission. The applicant then had a chance to provide what was missing and the officer then would make a final determination.
Under the new rule, officers have the discretion and authority to bypass the step of sending an RFE or a NOID and move ahead to deny a case because it was missing some necessary documentation. Therefore, applicants will not have, in those cases, the chance to correct a mistake or provide the necessary documentation. This is something that needs to be taken seriously but should not produce panic.
The correct response to this new policy involves a few steps. First, no one should file an application without making sure that all the required documentation is attached to it. Every application that is submitted to USCIS requires a series of documents to accompany it. Each application has clear instructions that outline what USCIS wants to see together with the form. These instructions should be carefully followed. This might be a complicated process, especially when forms are used for different types of benefits. Second, nobody should send applications to USCIS expecting that they will be able to submit more documents later. The practice that some people have of sending an application without all the necessary documentation in order to beat a deadline or secure a particular date should be avoided. Finally, it will be a safe practice to consult with an accredited representative from the Department of Justice or an immigration attorney before submitting any paperwork with USCIS. This new policy makes it more important than ever to take all the proper precautions and steps before submitting an application.
There is no need to avoid seeking immigration relief when one is available. The benefits that a person might be eligible for are still there. That has not changed; however, the standards to process the applications have become stricter and less forgiving. Our agency has always operated under the guidelines that we do not submit applications until we are sure that the person is eligible and all the information and documentation is present. Now, more than ever, we hold to these standards and make no exceptions for the safety and wellbeing of our clients. If you are considering applying for an immigration benefit, we invite you to make an appointment and allow us to help you with the process.