UNITED STATES: USCIS Tightens Policy on Adjudication of Non-immigrant Visa Applications

November 6, 2017

On 23rd October 2017, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) cancelled policy guidelines, in effect since April 2004, regarding requests for the extension of certain non-immigrant visas (i.e. visa petitions filed using Form I-129).

Previously, an adjudicator’s determination that a non-US citizen met the eligibility requirements for granting a non-immigrant visa was given deference in subsequent requests for a visa extension where the parties (petitioner and beneficiary) and the underlying facts and circumstances remained the same.

The new policy guidelines now eliminate this deferential policy, requiring an adjudicator to review any request for a non-immigrant visa extension the same as they would review an initial petition.  This means that an adjudicator may question another adjudicator’s prior approval of the non-immigrant petition, even if there is no material change in the underlying facts.

USCIS’s new guidelines apply to nearly all non-immigrant classifications filed using Form I-129, “Petition for a Non-immigrant Worker.”

Our Advice

Employers should work with their Newland Chase immigration specialist to review the visa expiration date for employees who hold non-immigrant visas filed using Form I-129, and should remind such employees that an extension request may take longer, or be denied altogether, under the new policy.

Note that, if an extension of a non-immigrant visa is denied, it is unlawful for the employer to continue employing the former visa-holder after the expiration of the current visa status, and the employment should therefore be terminated.

For advice and information on immigration to the US in general, please email us at [email protected].

This information was provided by our sister company, Peregrine Immigration Management.