On September 11, 2018, U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) implemented a new policy regarding rejection or denial of applications due to incomplete or inaccurate filings. In the past, if information or a document was missing from a filing, USCIS would issue a Request for Evidence (“RFE”), allowing the applicant to provide the missing information or document. Other mechanisms that were in place to help an applicant was the issuances of “Notices of Intent to Deny” (“NOID”), which would allow an applicant to address issues in their application within 30 days. With this new policy, an immigration officer will have the discretion to deny an application without first issuing an RFE or a NOID. USCIS cites its intention to discourage frivolous or incomplete filings that have “bogged down” the system.
Almost at the same time, on October 1, 2018, USCIS implemented another policy memo regarding the issuance of Notices to Appear (“NTA”). An NTA is the charging document the government files in Immigration Court to initiate removal or deportation proceedings. The policy states that USCIS may issue NTAs on denied applications, including but not limited to applications for adjustment of status (green card) or an application to extend or change immigration status. However, USCIS states that it will continue to prioritize the issuance of NTAs for those with criminal records, committed fraud, or are of national security concern.
In August 2018, USCIS also changed the policy on when students on F, J, or M status start accruing unlawful presence in the U.S., which can have profound consequences on people if they ever want to return to the U.S. or apply for an extension of status.
As it appears, USCIS has been issuing new policy memos that seemingly make a potential immigrant’s journey to the U.S. more and more difficult. Each of these policies point to the fact that USCIS can and will deport those who do not abide by its strict rules. If a student wants to extend status and is for any reason denied, whether it be because of a missing document or underlying eligibility, the student can accrue unlawful presence, be issued an NTA, and eventually deported.
These policies have made it clear that having a competent attorney is of utmost importance. If not, it can mean a denial of your application, an NTA and eventual deportation.