Recent USCIS policy changes could lead to loss of status or deportation

RECENT policy changes rolled out by the Department of Homeland Security this September and October can result in loss of permanent resident status (green card) or even deportation in some cases.

In September, changes in policy were put in place allowing immigration officers to reject visa applications immediately due to missing or inaccurate information. Previously, USCIS will issue “Requests for Evidence” (RFE) if there are missing information, allowing applicants to address gaps in their paperwork. “Notices of Intent to Deny” were also issued, as per prior guidance, which gave applicants a 30-day warning that their application would likely be rejected.

Applications affected by these policies and its recent changes in policy apply to: (i) applications and renewals of temporary (non-immigrant) visas, and (ii) permanent resident status (immigrant) visas. Securing such visas are required in order for non-U.S. citizen foreign nationals to legally live and work in the United States.

Most recently beginning October 1, 2018, USCIS will take an incremental approach to implement a new memo regarding the issuance of Notices to Appear (NTA). A Notice to Appear, or an NTA, is a document that instructs an individual to appear before an immigration judge and is the first step in starting removal proceedings. According to this Policy Memorandum, USCIS may issue NTAs on denied status-impacting applications, including but not limited to Adjustment of Status Applications and Application to Extend or Change Nonimmigrant Status. In simple terms: USCIS will issue an NTA where, upon issuance of an unfavorable decision on an application, petition, or benefit request, the alien is not lawfully present in the United States.

USCIS will continue to prioritize cases of individuals with criminal records, fraud, or national security concerns. There has been no change to the current processes for issuing NTAs on these case types, and USCIS will continue to use its discretion in issuing NTAs for these cases.

Now more than ever, we urge people to seek legal and competent counsel especially with regard to their immigration concerns, and in particular, in their immigration applications. It is important to be vigilant and understand how immigration policy changes may affect you or your loved ones. It is important to consult with a licensed, competent, and experienced immigration attorney who will be able to walk you through your and your family’s immigration questions.

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Atty. Lilli Berbano Baculi is an associate attorney with Chua Tinsay & Vega, A Professional Legal Corporation (CTV) – a full service law firm with offices in San Francisco, San Diego, Sacramento and Philippines. The information presented in this article is for general information only and is not, nor intended to be, formal legal advice nor the formation of an attorney-client relationship. Call or e-mail CTV for an in-person or phone consultation to discuss your particular situation and/or how their services may be retained at (619) 955-6277; (415) 495-8088; (916) 449-3923; lbaculi@ctvattys.com; www.chuatinsayvega.com.

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