USCIS reverts to pre-Trump guidance for visa extension applications

USCIS has issued revised guidance in its Policy Manual on US visa extension applications.

Under the changes, USCIS reviewing officers are instructed to “give deference to prior determinations”, ie to defer to prior approvals when adjudicating extension requests involving the same parties and facts as the initial petition or application, where there are no material errors, material changes, or new material facts.

The change is a reversion to guidance that had previously been issued in 2004, but which had been withdrawn in 2017.

The updated guidance rescinds a specific policy memo from 2017, in which the Trump Administration prohibited USCIS officers from deferring to prior petition approvals, even where there was no change in facts or indication of error.

The 2017 changes required adjudicators to review all extension applications, including those concerning the same applicants and parties and no material changes to the facts as previously submitted and approved in prior applications. This had resulted in substantial increases in RFE rates, as well as denials and petition processing times.

This is a welcome change for employers, as we should – depending on how USCIS officers implement the policy – expect to see reductions in processing delays with applications and RFEs.

US immigration advice

NNU Immigration is actively monitoring the impact of the changes in US immigration policy and application processing.

If you have any queries about new opportunities and how reforms can benefit your recruitment and global mobility activity, speak to our US immigration specialists.

This article does not constitute direct legal advice and is for informational purposes only.