Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas has announced several new USCIS policies meant to improve the legal immigration system, eliminate barriers, and reduce burdens on applicants.

He issued the following new policies:

  1. Expedite Criteria

USCIS generally does not consider expedite requests for petitions and applications where Premium Processing Service is available. However, a petitioner that is designated as a nonprofit organization by the IRS acting in furtherance of the cultural and social interests of the United States may now request that the benefit it seeks be expedited without a fee, even if premium processing is available for that benefit. Of course, USCIS retains discretion to deny that request.

  1. Requests for Evidence (RFEs) and Notices of Intent to Deny (NOIDs)

In 2018, during the Trump Administration, USCIS issued a policy that permitted agency officers to deny certain immigration benefit requests without first issuing an RFE or a NOID. This meant that some petitioners or beneficiaries would not have an opportunity to fix minor errors or provide more documentation. Instead, they would have to file motions to reopen, appeals, or simply reapply. The updated policy restores those opportunities by noting that RFEs or NOIDs should be issued (before a denial) if there is a possibility the petitioner or applicant can overcome ineligibility by submitting additional evidence. The policy also emphasizes that unnecessary RFEs or NOIDs should not be issued.

  1. Employment Authorization Documents

The new policy increases current one-year validity period to two years for certain adjustment of status applicants. This should reduce the number of EAD applications that must be filed – helping USCIS – and mean that applicants will less frequently become subject to gaps in employment authorization due to USCIS backlogs.

These three changes will help reduce backlogs at USCIS and give some petitioners and applicants ways to avoid those backlogs.

Jackson Lewis attorneys are available to assist you in understanding how these changes will affect your immigration matters.

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Photo of Forrest G. Read IV Forrest G. Read IV

Forrest Read is a Principal in the Raleigh, North Carolina, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He has extensive experience in both business immigration law and employment law and has particular focus in legal issues in graduate medical education (GME).

Mr. Read’s immigration practice…

Forrest Read is a Principal in the Raleigh, North Carolina, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He has extensive experience in both business immigration law and employment law and has particular focus in legal issues in graduate medical education (GME).

Mr. Read’s immigration practice focuses on assisting employers in obtaining employment-based nonimmigrant visas (e.g., H-1B, L, O, TN) for foreign national employees and work-related immigrant (green card) visas, including PERM Labor Certifications, and advising employers on compliance with U.S. immigration laws and regulations. He has broad experience in advising large, mid-size and small employers on their various immigration needs and developing strategies to help them navigate through complex immigration issues. He also has particular experience in counseling employers in the health care industry and addressing immigration-related issues that arise for their broad range of health care professional employees (including advising on and obtaining employment authorization for medical residents and fellows and obtaining J-1 visa waivers for foreign national physicians completing their medical training in the United States). His immigration practice also includes defending employers in connection with Department of Labor H-1B and H-2B investigations.

Mr. Read’s employment law experience includes representing management, particularly academic medical centers in the GME context, in a wide array of workplace disputes and litigation before federal and state courts and administrative agencies, including matters related to discrimination, retaliation, harassment, disability, family and medical leave, various wage and hour issues, contracts, and intentional torts. He advises academic medical centers on the interplay between applicable academic law and employment law and the ramifications of what are divergent legal requirements and standards. Mr. Read also provides counsel with respect to the legal impact of competency standards for residents and trainees in GME, including situations involving discipline, remediation, and dismissal. He provides advice and guidance in the peer review process, including provision of verification and assessment of training in response to third party inquiries.

As a member of the Firm’s Corporate Diversity Counseling group, Mr. Read also has experience in providing assessments and making recommendations to corporate and institutional clients with respect to diversity and inclusion policies and initiatives, conducting related internal investigations, and shaping, developing and enforcing effective policies and initiatives to ensure consistency with client values and in furtherance of business goals and objectives.