Innocent Mistakes No Longer Basis for Denying Immigration Benefits
In a win for immigrants and immigration advocates, the United States immigration authorities have now rescinded one of the most detrimental Trump-era policies.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.