The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) can now reject visa and green card applications at its own discretion. In case of missing documents or errors, visas and permanent residence applications can be rejected without intimating the applicants if USCIS finds asking for missing information frivolous. The changes in visa policy have come into effect from September 11.
All immigration applications, petitions and requests, including the H-1B visa and Green Card applications will be brought under the ambit of the new policy. While there are no changes in appeal rights - applicants can raise an appeal against a rejected application like before - USCIS's discretionary application denial is likely to add to the cost and time of the already time-consuming and expensive process.
Under the Obama administration, the USCIS officials had to compulsorily issue a Request for Evidence (RFE) or Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID) if applicants made an error or failed to produce the necessary documents, to inform them of the same. Now these notices will be issued on the discretion of the USCIS officials.
"This policy is intended to discourage frivolous or substantially incomplete filings used as "placeholder" filings and encourage applicants, petitioners, and requestors to be diligent in collecting and submitting required evidence. It is not intended to penalize filers for innocent mistakes or misunderstandings of evidentiary requirements," USCIS said in a statement.
If the required information for visa and Green Card applications was found to be missing, USCIS adjudicators would determine whether it was due to mistake or misunderstanding. If the non-compliance or error was a mistake, an RFE would be sent to the applicant.
According to reports, 72 per cent of H-1B cases for Indians received a Request for Evidence, compared to 61 per cent for all other countries in the fourth quarter of FY 2017. A change in policy could mean that a substantial number of them could get rejected without any chance of timely intervention, resulting in going about the process all over again. The decision will also affect 632,219 Indian immigrants and their families who were reportedly waiting for their Green Card to be approved as in April. The visa policy, however, will have no effect on travel and business visas.
Edited by Vivek Punj