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USCIS Updates Policy Guidance for Family-Based Petitions

Posted by Hugo R. Valverde, Managing Attorney, and Anna D. Colby, Attorney Social Media Marketing Manager | Jun 20, 2024 | 0 Comments

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Did you know that an immigrant visa petition submitted to USCIS doesn't always stay with USCIS?

In a recently issued policy alert, USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) explained the changes petitioners may not be aware of for how immigrant visas are processed with the federal agency. The update gives readers an understanding of the importance of benefit requestors providing USCIS with accurate information about the beneficiary's intent, and “addresses various scenarios officers might encounter and clarifies procedures for family-based immigrant petition approvals where the beneficiary's intent to consular process or adjust status is unclear, has changed, or a correction is needed.” 

Depending on a beneficiary's intent, location, and eligibility for adjustment of status (permanent residence), a family-based immigrant visa petition either stays with USCIS for processing inside the U.S., or is transferred to the Department of State for overseas processing at a U.S. consulate or U.S. embassy with the National Visa Center (NVC). 

Sometimes though, it is unclear from a visa petition where the beneficiary should be processed, or their location changes after the petition is filed. 

In this alert, USCIS has provided the following directives for cases that appear unclear:

  • In cases where the petitioner does not clearly indicate the intent of the beneficiary to consular process or adjust status, USCIS uses discretion to decide whether to send the petition to the NVC or retain the petition for adjustment of status processing based on evidence of the beneficiary's most recent location, including the beneficiary's address on the petition. 

  • If a petitioner needs to correct an error or provide an update on a pending or approved Form I-130 petition, including an update related to the beneficiary's location and intent to adjust status or consular process, the petitioner may notify USCIS to explain that. The alert gives guidance on how to do that.

  • USCIS explains how it determines whether to approve or deny a family-based immigrant petition. 

This new guidance is effective immediately and applies to petitions pending or filed on or after May 22, 2024. It is helpful that the guidance has now been published, as we are hopeful that this will decrease the amount of family-based petitions that are denied. In the policy guidance USCIS confirms that it “generally approves a properly filed family-based immigrant visa petition if the petitioner demonstrates the requisite status to file a petition and establishes the existence of a qualifying relationship to the beneficiary.”

Family based immigrant visa petitions can be very confusing to file, and even a small error can result in the petition being rejected. We would love to help you on your immigration journey in applying for your family-based visa petition, and make the filing experience more understandable and more reliable. 

If you would like assistance with an immigration petition, you can reach us at (757) 422-8472, or send us a message on our website. You can also schedule an appointment with one of our attorneys by clicking on this link.

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