\ afm \ Adjudicator's Field Manual - Redacted Public Version \ Chapter 10 An Overview of the Adjudication Process. \ 10.15 Exercise of Discretion; Uniformity of Decisions.
Previous Document Next Document
10.15 Exercise of Discretion; Uniformity of Decisions.
Although all types of adjudications involve proper application of laws and regulations, a few also involve an exercise of discretion: adjustment of status under
of the Act, change of status under
of the Act and various waivers of inadmissibility are all discretionary applications, requiring both an application of law and a consideration of the specific facts relevant to the case. An exercise of discretion does not mean the decision can be arbitrary, inconsistent or dependant upon intangible or imagined circumstances. Although regulations can provide guidelines for many of the types of factors which are appropriate for consideration, a regulation cannot dictate the outcome of a discretionary appli
cation. [See, for example, HHS Poverty Guidelines in
Appendix 10- 3
.] For each type of adjudication, there is also a body of precedent case law which is intended to provide guidance on how to consider evidence and weigh the favorable and adverse factors present in a case. The adjudicator must be familiar with the common factors and how much weight is given to each factor in the body of precedent case law. The case law and regulatory guidelines provide a framework to assist in arriving at decisions which are consistent and fair, regardless of where the case is adjudicated
or by whom.
It will be useful, particularly for inexperienced adjudicators, to discuss unusual fact patterns and novel cases requiring an exercise of discretion with peers and supervisors. In particularly difficult or unusual cases, the decision may be certified for review to the Administrative Appeals Office. Such certifications may ultimately result in expansion of the body of precedent case law. Discretionary decisions or those involving complex facts, whether the outcome is favorable or unfavorable to the petitio
ner or applicant, require supervisory review.
Even in non-discretionary cases, the consideration of evidence is somewhat subjective. For example, in considering an employment-based petition, the adjudicator must examine the beneficiary’s employment experience and determine if the experience meets or exceeds , in quality and quantity, the experience requirement stated on the labor certification by the employer. However, a subjective consideration of facts should not be confused with an exercise of discretion. Like an exercise of discretion, a subject
ive consideration of facts does not mean the decision can be arbitrary, inconsistent or dependant upon intangible or imagined circumstances.