USCIS released a New Policy yesterday, October 23, 2017 that rescinds prior USCIS policy of giving deference to an earlier examiner's findings in adjudications of Non-Immigrant Visa applications.
Per the new policy, USCIS officers are no longer required to give deference to earlier decisions made by their colleagues i.e. ANY and ALL applications for "simple" renewals of visa classes such as extension of H-1B, L-1A, L-1B or O-1 are now subject to the whims and fancy of the officer that happens to be adjudicating the present application for renewal.
Per this new policy, an Individual with an approved I-140 and seeking an 8th extension of an H-1B visa without change to job location or employer, which would otherwise constitute a "simple extension" is no longer guaranteed that extension. The adjudicating officer may, if she/he chooses, treat the extension request as a "new" request and issue onerous Request for Evidence, or even deny the extension.
This has far reaching consequences for those stuck in ever expanding I-140 lines, especially Citizens of India and China. The I-140 is of little use if the applicant is unable to renew the H-1B that would allow him/her to remain in the US and work whilst waiting for a "Green Card" to become available.
The new policy also affects employers. Immigration officers historically have given deference to the decisions made by other officers. They choose to rescind prior removals if there is a finding of fraud or material change int he application, but this new policy open the door for an officer to rescind a previously approved H if the officer, subjectively, believes that the applicant does not qualify for any number of reasons.
If you or your employees are in the process of needing to apply for extensions, please consult with and work closely with your Immigration Counsel. We strongly advice, under the present circumstances, that employers/applicants and their counsel, treat and prepare every application as a new application.
This is but one new policy in what seems like a never ending slew of bad policy decisions that, in the long run, will only serve to diminish US interests and lead to a brain drain away from the United States.
As always, please free to reach out to me should you have any questions or concerns.
Kripa Upadhyay is the Managing Partner at Orbit Law, PLLC, a Seattle based law firm that assists Individuals and Corporations in need of Immigration, Corporate or Employment based assistance.
Orbit Law, PLLC
509 Olive Way, Suite 611
Seattle, WA 98101
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