In a new policy memorandum issued today, USCIS announced that effective September 11, 2018 it will give its adjudicating officers expanded authority to deny immigration applications without issuing a Request for Evidence (RFE). Previous USCIS policy encouraged the issuance of RFEs as a means to provide applicants with a fair opportunity to provide additional documentation to prove eligibility for an immigration benefit when eligibility was being questioned by the adjudicating officer. Under the previous policy, an adjudicator was permitted to deny a case without an RFE only if there was no possibility that additional evidence could cure a deficiency in the application filing.
Under the new policy, adjudicating officers will be be given much broader discretion to deny an application without issuing an RFE if the officer determines that the original submission lacks sufficient initial evidence to establish eligibility for the benefit. It is not yet clear how USCIS adjudicating officers will interpret this new policy. However, considering this administration's drastic shift towards much more restrictive immigration policy implementation on other issues, we expect officers will yield their new authority often, and in some cases potentially without legal justification.
In light of this new policy, it will become even more important for clients to work closely with your Ellis Porter legal team to assure that all required evidence to prove eligibility is included with initial application filings.
Ellis Porter will monitor this new policy development closely and report on any denial trends that emerge once the new policy becomes effective on September 11.