The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that it will repeal a Trump-era policy that permitted immigration officers to reject H-1B visa applications without first releasing a notice of intent to reject, a move that will lower barriers to "legal immigration" and benefit Indian professionals.
The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that permits US corporations to hire foreign employees for specialty jobs that need theoretical or technical skills. It is popular among Indian IT firms and experts. Technology firms rely on it to hire tens of thousands of workers from countries such as India and China each year.
The US immigration agency released a statement on Wednesday saying that it was revamping its policies on accelerated application processing, altering guidance on Requests for Evidence (RFEs) and Notices of Intent to Deny (NOIDs), and extending the maximum duration for certain Employment Authorization Documents (EADs).
“We are taking action to eliminate policies that fail to promote access to the legal immigration system and will continue to make improvements that help individuals navigate the path to citizenship, and that modernise our immigration system,” said Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas.
The USCIS also stated that it is reverting to the adjudicative principles of a June 2013 memo that commanded agency officers to release a request for evidence or a notice of intent to deny when credible evidence could feasibly illustrate eligibility for an immigration benefit.
“These policy measures are consistent with the Biden-Harris administration's priorities to eliminate unnecessary barriers to our nation’s legal immigration system and reduce burdens on non-citizens who may be eligible for immigration benefits,” said Acting USCIS Director Tracy Renaud.
The USCIS is revoking a July 2018 memo that allowed agency officials to refuse some immigration benefit petitions instead of issuing an RFE or NOID, according to the new RFE and NOID guidelines.
This revised policy ensures that benefit requestors are given the chance to address inadvertent errors and omissions.
“USCIS is committed to promoting policies and procedures that ensure we operate in a fair, efficient, and humane manner that reflects America’s heritage as a land of opportunity for those who seek it,” Renaud added.
When needed initial evidence is not presented or the evidence of record fails to prove eligibility, USCIS adjudicators have broad authority to refuse applications, petitions, and requests without first issuing an RFE or NOID, according to the 2018 regulation.
The USCIS also announced that for certain adjustment of status applicants, the existing one-year validity term for both initial and renewal EADs will be extended to two years.
The extension of the validity term on EADs for some adjustment applicants is projected to lower the amount of employment authorization petitions received by USCIS, allowing the agency to focus its limited resources on other priorities.