Innocent Mistakes No Longer Basis for Denying Immigration Benefits

Innocent Mistakes No Longer Basis for Denying Immigration BenefitsIn a win for immigrants and immigration advocates, the United States immigration authorities have now rescinded one of the most detrimental Trump-era policies. This policy allowed the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to use broad discretion in denying immigration benefits, including citizenship. Under this policy, officials could deny an application on the basis of an innocent error or missing documentation, without giving the applicant an opportunity to remedy it or provide the required information. This had a profoundly negative effect on immigrants, as the policy resulted in legitimate applicants being denied, even though they had demonstrated that they would have met the requirements for benefits had they been permitted to correct an error or provide the required documentation. As many immigrants do not speak English as their first language, and do not have the resources to provide professional legal help, errors and misunderstandings are common, and perfection is an unfair standard.

Who Was Impacted by This Policy?

This policy was far-reaching and affected nearly all immigration applications, as well as petitions and requests. Citizenship, visas, and green cards were also affected. This policy could be particularly detrimental to immigrants applying for a visa renewal because if their application was denied due to a simple error or missing documentation, they could be added to a deportation list and removed from the United States on the day that their original visa expired. This made applying for visas an incredibly high-stakes endeavor. Immigrants with green cards could be denied U.S. citizenship on the basis of an innocent error, even if they otherwise met all requirements.

If you need help with an immigration matter, it can be overwhelming, and be hard to even know where to start looking for help or what options are available. Our attorneys at HAWM Law are ready, experienced and committed to helping immigrants at any stage of the US immigration process. You do not have to struggle through this process alone.

What was the Original Policy?

The Trump-era policy was a shift from the previous operating procedures of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Previously, officials would issue a courtesy warning in the form of either a Request for Evidence (RFE) or a Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID). These warnings would give applicants and/or their attorneys an opportunity to intervene and prevent a denial by providing the required documentation or remedying the error that would otherwise result in a denial. This allowed many potential deportations and case denials to be avoided. The Trump-era policy reversed this guidance and allowed officials to deny applications without first issuing a courtesy warning, and RFEs and NOIDs were no longer used.

What is the New Policy?

The new policy returns to the original guidance, derived from a 2013 memo, which utilizes an RFE or NOID in cases where additional information could avoid an application denial or help applicants receive an immigration benefit. The guidance has been revised and now suggests that in cases where additional evidence or information could help overcome a denial, a courtesy warning should be issued so that the applicant has the opportunity to submit that evidence. The guidance also cautions against the issuance of unnecessary RFEs and NOIDs, such as where the evidence already submitted already establishes eligibility or ineligibility for a benefit.

Talk to a Florida Immigration Attorney

If you need assistance applying for citizenship or an immigration benefit, the experienced immigration attorneys at HAWM Law can help. Call today to schedule a consultation.

Translate »