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New policy allows USCIS to deny visas and green cards for errors

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services recently announced a significant policy change. In the past, when an application for a visa or lawful permanent resident status contained errors, the USCIS adjudicator would issue a Request for Evidence (RFE) or a Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID). This would notify the applicant of a deficiency in their application and give them a chance to address the problem before the application was officially denied.

A new policy went into effect on Sept. 11. Adjudicators can now simply deny applications without issuing an RFE or an NOID. They still have the authority to issue the warning notices, but they are no longer required to.

A spokesperson for the USCIS told ProPublica that the change was made to cut down on "frivolous" applications. According to the spokesperson, some applicants were essentially gaming the system by submitting applications they knew were incomplete. They allegedly relied on the fact that the USCIS would warn them about their applications' incompleteness. The subsequent give-and-take would buy time -- time the USCIS assumes they should not be given.

Moreover, the previous policy requiring the RFE or NOID often added months or even years of time to the already lengthy process of applying for a visa or green card. It could also add thousands of dollars in fees and costs.

Unfortunately, denial of a visa or renewal could have devastating consequences for the applicant. The Trump administration has been aggressive about deporting people as soon as they no longer have a legal visa.

Immigration lawyers told ProPublica that they are concerned about how the new policy will be implemented. There seem to be no objective standards for what will be considered a "frivolous" application. USCIS adjudicators could theoretically deny applications for any reason, including mere hunches. However, the policy memo says the change is not meant to penalize people for innocent mistakes or misunderstandings.

The solution is not as easy as telling applicants to double-check their applications. According to the immigration lawyers, the Trump administration has already instituted much greater scrutiny over these applications.

"It seems like they are just making every single submission difficult," said one attorney. "Even the most standard, run-of-the-mill" application.

For example, one application was denied because the seventh page, which is intentionally left blank, wasn't included.

With this new policy and the existing heavy scrutiny, now is not the time to take chances. Contact Yew Immigration Law Group for help ensuring your visa or green card application is filed correctly, completely and on time. We have years of experience helping people obtain family- and employment-based visas, green cards, and other immigration documents.

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