Integrity Legal

12th Feb 2010

For those who have gone through the United States Immigration process or those who are thinking of doing so, the acronym USCIS will become familiar if it is not already. USCIS stands for the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service. This organization adjudicates many Immigrant visa petitions before they are sent to the the Department of State. In many ways USCIS carries out their duties in an effective and efficient manner. However, there are some situations in which some individuals feel that USCIS oversteps their authority.

In a recent blog posting, the past president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association wrote about the issues surrounding USCIS and dereliction of what some perceive as the proper interpretation of Federal law:

“[T]wice in the last two months the USCIS has issued “memos” that so dramatically change the framework under which these key programs operate, that it has clearly violated the APA [Administrative Procedure Act].”

The posting went into further detail below:

“USCIS has taken ignoring Federal Law to a new level with its recent actions. Of course we all know that the USCIS has been illegally changing the rules as they apply to individual cases for the last several years by engaging in “rulemaking by RFE;” making ridiculous requests for evidence, not based on any legal requirement, but rather, based upon someone’s bizarre notion of what they think the law should be, not what it really is. Now, however, with the two newest “Neufeld Memos” the USCIS has simply gone too far…The Neufeld memo on the EB-5 program, essentially makes that job creation program unworkable, and the Neufeld Memo on the H-1B program, literally changes decades of established policy on the most important visa allowing U.S. companies to hire foreign nationals.”

With regard to the employment visa issues noted above, the details of the memos in question have yet to be resolved. However, based upon anecdotal evidence from some practitioners, there does appear to be something of a rise in the number of Requests for Evidence (RFE) being promulgated by USCIS. This author can neither confirm nor deny that RFEs are on the rise, but it leads to the issue of RFE avoidance. Particularly in family visa cases, such as petitions for a K1 visa or a K3 Visa, a couple must be separated during the US visa process. Therefore, if an RFE is avoided it could mean that the couple will be reunited more quickly. As a result, proper petition preparation is necessary in order to have a better chance of forestalling an RFE.

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