‘Innocent mistakes’ will no longer cost immigrants their green cards or visas

‘Innocent mistakes’ will no longer cost immigrants their green cards or visas

Immigration authorities in the United States have rescinded one of the policies implemented by the Trump administration that had one of the most profound negative impacts on legal immigrants with pending or upcoming applications.

The 2018 policy had granted U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) adjudicators broader authority to issue case denials over mistakes or missing documents without giving applicants the opportunity to fix them and provide additional documentation.

It “resulted in USCIS denying certain benefit requestors an immigration benefit even though they would have demonstrated their eligibility if given the chance to provide additional evidence,” the Department of Homeland Security agency said in a policy alert issued earlier this month.

The rescinded guidance affected almost all immigration applications, petitions and requests, including U.S. citizenship, permanent residence or green cards and visas.

Traditionally, when applicants don’t submit enough evidence to support their benefit petitions or make innocent mistakes, USCIS adjudicators have issued courtesy warnings known as Request for Evidence (RFE) or Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID).

These notices gave immigrants and their attorneys the opportunity to intervene before a decision was made — avoiding case denials. For some visa holders applying for renewal, a denial could mean being placed in deportation proceedings the moment their visas expired.

But during the Trump presidency, USCIS made a policy change that granted adjudicators full discretion to deny applications without first issuing an RFE or a NOID, when appropriate.

Now, USCIS is returning to the adjudicative principles of a 2013 memo that instructed agency officers to issue an RFE or NOID when additional evidence could help immigrants receive an immigration benefit.

This updated policy will ensure that benefit requestors are given an opportunity to correct innocent mistakes and unintentional omissions,” USCIS said in a news release.

USCIS said the policy update aims to improve immigration services.