USCIS Reverses Trump Policy, Instructs Adjudicators to Resume Granting Deference to Prior Determinations in Petition Validity Extension Requests

May 13, 2021

By Immigration Group

This article was prepared with the assistance of ABIL, the Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers, of which Laura Danielson is an active member.

Effective immediately, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) updated its policy guidance on April 27, 2021, to generally restore its 2004 instructions directing officers to defer to prior determinations of eligibility when adjudicating petition extensions involving the same parties and facts as the initial petition. USCIS had rescinded the 2004 guidance in 2017.

The updated policy clarifies that USCIS will once again give deference unless there was a material error, material change in circumstances or eligibility, or new material information that adversely impacts the petitioner’s, applicant’s or beneficiary’s eligibility. The updated policy also affirms that USCIS “considers, but does not defer to, previous eligibility determinations on petitions or applications made by other U.S. government agencies,” and that “officers make determinations on the evidence of record in the petition or application under adjudication.”