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Policy Manual

The USCIS Policy Manual is the agency’s centralized online repository for USCIS’ immigration policies. The USCIS Policy Manual will ultimately replace the Adjudicator’s Field Manual (AFM), the USCIS Immigration Policy Memoranda site, and other policy repositories.

About the Policy Manual

The USCIS Policy Manual is the agency’s centralized online repository for USCIS’ immigration policies. The Policy Manual is replacing the Adjudicator’s Field Manual (AFM), the USCIS Immigration Policy Memoranda site, and other USCIS policy repositories. The Policy Manual contains separate volumes pertaining to different areas of immigration benefits administered by the agency, such as citizenship and naturalization, adjustment of status, and nonimmigrants. The content is organized into different volumes, parts, and chapters.

The Policy Manual provides transparency of immigration policies and furthers consistency, quality, and efficiency consistent with the USCIS mission. The Policy Manual provides all the latest policy updates; an expanded table of contents; keyword search function; and links to the Immigration and Nationality Act and Code of Federal Regulations, as well as public use forms. The Policy Manual contains tables and charts to facilitate understanding of complex topics. The Policy Manual also contains all historical policy updates.

The Policy Manual contains the official policies of USCIS and assists immigration officers in rendering decisions. The Policy Manual is to be followed by all USCIS officers in the performance of their duties but it does not remove their discretion in making adjudicatory decisions. The Policy Manual does not create any substantive or procedural right or benefit that is legally enforceable by any party against the United States or its agencies or officers or any other person.

How to use the USCIS Policy Manual website (PDF, 2.99 MB).

Adjudicator's Field Manual Transition

USCIS is retiring its Adjudicator's Field Manual (AFM), a collection of our immigration policies and procedures. We are working to update and incorporate all AFM content into the USCIS Policy Manual. Until then, we have moved any remaining AFM content in PDF format to its corresponding Policy Manual Part. To the extent that a provision in the Policy Manual conflicts with remaining AFM content or Policy Memoranda, the updated information in the Policy Manual prevails. If you have questions or concerns about any discrepancies among these resources, contact PolicyFeedback@uscis.dhs.gov.

To find remaining AFM content, see the crosswalk (PDF, 316.97 KB) between the AFM and the Policy Manual.

 

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Updates

 

Updates(266)
POLICY ALERT - Extension of the Temporary Need Exemption for Certain H-2B Workers on Guam and in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to reflect the extension of the current exemption from the temporary need requirement for petitions for temporary nonagricultural (H-2B) nonimmigrant workers on Guam and in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), as provided in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2024 (FY 2024 NDAA).

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POLICY ALERT - Clarifying the Term “Science or Art” for Schedule A, Group II Occupations

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to update the Schedule A, Group II definition of science or art to align with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) definition.

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POLICY ALERT - Validity of Report of Immigration Medical Examination and Vaccination Record (Form I-693)

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual regarding the evidentiary value of the Report of Immigration Medical Examination and Vaccination Record (Form I-693).

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POLICY ALERT - Availability of Additional Gender Options for Certain Benefit Requests

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is revising policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to clarify the availability of an “X” gender marker option on certain USCIS forms and secure documents.

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Technical Update - Safe Address and Special Procedures for Persons Protected by 8 U.S.C. 1367

This technical update incorporates the policy guidance that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced April 11, 2023, on mailing address and case handling procedures for persons protected under 8 U.S.C. 1367. This guidance became effective March 29, 2024.

POLICY ALERT - Customer Service Procedures for Persons Protected by 8 U.S.C. 1367

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is updating the USCIS Policy Manual to provide guidance on customer service procedures for persons protected by the confidentiality provisions found at 8 U.S.C. 1367(a)(2).

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POLICY ALERT - Clarifying Expedite Requests

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is updating policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to clarify how USCIS considers expedite requests related to government interests and requests related to emergencies and urgent humanitarian situations. This update also clarifies how to make an expedite request and explains how USCIS processes expedite requests.

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POLICY ALERT - Anti-Discrimination Policy

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to further clarify its anti-discrimination policy pertaining to USCIS employees and contractors interacting directly or indirectly with members of the public.

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POLICY ALERT - Mobile Biometrics Collection in Remote Locations

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is updating guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to further clarify existing policy on providing mobile biometrics collection services to benefit requestors residing in remote locations within the United States.

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Technical Update - Addition of Citation to 2021 BIA Decision on Materiality of Misrepresentations Concerning Identity

This technical update to Volume 8, Part J, Chapter 3 adds a citation to the 2021 Board of Immigration Appeal’s Decision, Matter of O-R-E-, which further explains when misrepresentations of identity are material, and makes conforming edits to the Policy Manual main text.

POLICY ALERT - Untimely Filed Extensions of Stay and Change of Status Requests

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to address when USCIS may, in its discretion, excuse untimely filed extensions of stay and change of status requests.

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POLICY ALERT - Establishing an Employer’s Ability to Pay the Proffered Wage for Certain Employment-Based Immigrant Visa Petitions

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to address the analysis of an employer’s ability to pay the proffered wage for certain employment-based immigrant visa petition adjudications.

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POLICY ALERT - Nonimmigrant Student Classifications

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to address the nonimmigrant student (F and M) classifications, including USCIS’ role in the adjudication of applications for employment authorization and change or reinstatement of status to F or M classifications.

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Technical Update - Country-Specific Adoption Processing

This technical update to Volume 5, Adoptions, incorporates information on USCIS country-specific adoption processing by adding a reference to the USCIS Country-Specific Processing webpage.

POLICY ALERT - Special Immigrant Juvenile Classification Litigation Update on Tolling Provision

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is updating policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to align with Casa Libre/Freedom House v. Mayorkas. The district court in Casa Libre issued a Declaratory Judgment stating that the tolling provisions outlined in DHS regulations are not in accordance with the 180-day timeframe for the adjudication of a special immigrant juvenile (SIJ) petition as required by statute, to the extent that the regulations allow adjudication beyond the 180-day timeframe.

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Technical Update - Statelessness

This technical update incorporates the policy guidance that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced August 1, 2023, to address stateless noncitizens present in the United States. This guidance became effective October 30, 2023.

POLICY ALERT - EB-5 Regional Center Program Reform

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is updating policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to continue to incorporate statutory reforms of the Regional Center Program as they relate to regional center designation and other requirements for immigrant investors.

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POLICY ALERT - Foreign Residence Requirement for Nonimmigrant Exchange Visitors

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual regarding the 2-year foreign residence requirement for the nonimmigrant exchange visitor (J) visa classification.

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POLICY ALERT - L-1 Petitions for Intracompany Transferees Filed by a Sole Proprietorship

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to clarify that a sole proprietorship may not file an L-1 petition on behalf of its owner because the sole proprietorship does not exist as a distinct legal entity separate and apart from the owner.

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POLICY ALERT - Extension of the Temporary Need Exemption for Certain H-2B Workers on Guam and in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to reflect the extension of the current exemption from the temporary need requirement for petitions for temporary nonagricultural H-2B nonimmigrant workers on Guam and in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), as provided in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year (FY) 2023.

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POLICY ALERT - Employment Authorization Document Validity Period for Certain Categories

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is updating policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual regarding maximum validity periods for Employment Authorization Documents (EADs, Form I-766) issued to refugees and asylees, noncitizens paroled as refugees, noncitizens granted withholding of removal, noncitizens with pending applications for asylum or withholding of removal, noncitizens with pending applications for adjustment of status under INA 245, and noncitizens seeking suspension of deportation or cancellation of removal. USCIS is also clarifying that the Arrival/Departure Record (Form I-94) may be used as evidence of both status and employment authorization for certain EAD categories that are employment authorized incident to status or parole.

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POLICY ALERT - Evaluating Eligibility for Extraordinary Ability and Outstanding Professor or Researcher Visa Classifications

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to clarify how USCIS evaluates evidence to determine eligibility for extraordinary ability and outstanding professor or researcher first preference employment-based immigrant visa classifications.

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POLICY ALERT - Access to Voter Registration Services during Naturalization Ceremonies

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing updated policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual regarding access to voter registration services during administrative naturalization ceremonies.

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POLICY ALERT - Sought to Acquire Requirement Under the Child Status Protection Act

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to clarify that USCIS considers the recent February 14, 2023, policy change to be an extraordinary circumstance that may excuse the “sought to acquire” requirement under the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA) in particular situations.

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POLICY ALERT - Physician National Interest Waivers

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to confirm the evidentiary requirements for physicians seeking a national interest waiver of the job offer requirement based on work in an underserved area or at a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs facility.

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POLICY ALERT - Bona Fide Determination Process for Qualifying Family Members of U Nonimmigrant Victims of Qualifying Crimes

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is updating the USCIS Policy Manual to provide that USCIS may review and determine if a qualifying family member’s petition for U nonimmigrant status is bona fide, and if already filed, adjudicate their Application for Employment Authorization (Form I-765), once the principal petitioner receives a Bona Fide Determination (BFD), even if the principal petitioner has not filed Form I-765.

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POLICY ALERT - Statelessness

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to address stateless noncitizens present in the United States. This guidance becomes effective October 30, 2023.

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POLICY ALERT - Incorporating Guidance on Applicability of the Public Charge Ground of Inadmissibility

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is updating the USCIS Policy Manual to help applicants for adjustment of status more easily identify whether they are subject to the public charge ground of inadmissibility under section 212(a)(4) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

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POLICY ALERT - Application Support Center Reschedule Requests and Missed Appointments

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to address procedures related to biometric services appointments at an Application Support Center (ASC).

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POLICY ALERT - Employment Authorization Documents Based on Compelling Circumstances

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to address eligibility criteria and standards for applications for employment authorization involving compelling circumstances.

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POLICY ALERT - Nonimmigrant Exchange Visitor (J) Visa Classification

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual regarding the nonimmigrant exchange visitor (J) visa classification, including USCIS’ role in the adjudication of waivers of the 2-year foreign residence requirement and change of status requests under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

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Technical Update - Removing Outdated Alert Box and Revising Part Title

This technical update to Volume 7 removes an alert box that was superseded by the Policy Manual update on October 6, 2022. This technical update also removes “EB-4" from the title of Volume 7, Part F and makes related conforming edits.

POLICY ALERT - Removing Guidance Related to the 2020 Civics Test

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is updating policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to remove references to the 2020 version of the civics test.

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POLICY ALERT - Safe Address and Special Procedures for Persons Protected by 8 U.S.C. 1367

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is updating policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to provide guidance on mailing address and case handling procedures for persons protected under 8 U.S.C. 1367. This guidance becomes effective July 11, 2023. Note: The effective date for this policy has changed to March 29, 2024.

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POLICY ALERT - Venues for Administrative Naturalization Ceremonies

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to clarify the types of venues USCIS may use for administrative naturalization ceremonies and the considerations for accepting offers to donate use of facilities.

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POLICY ALERT - Selecting Gender on USCIS Forms

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is revising policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to clarify that benefit requestors may select their gender on USCIS forms (or change a prior gender selection) without the need to provide supporting documentation. Documents issued by USCIS as a result of the benefit adjudication will reflect the gender selected by the benefit requestor.

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POLICY ALERT - Removal of “60-Day Rule” for Report of Immigration Medical Examination and Vaccination Record (Form I-693)

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to remove the requirement that the civil surgeon’s signature on the Report of Immigration Medical Examination and Vaccination Record (Form I-693) be dated no more than 60 days before an applicant files the application for the underlying immigration benefit.

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POLICY ALERT - Filing Periods and Response Timeframes Ending on Saturdays, Sundays, or Federal Holidays

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is updating guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to address instances where the last day of filing a benefit request or response to a Request for Evidence or a Notice of Intent to Deny, Revoke, Rescind, or Terminate, falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or federal holiday.

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POLICY ALERT - Revision of Request for Certification of Military or Naval Service (Form N-426)

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to provide that only applicants for naturalization under Section 328 or Section 329 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) who are currently serving in the U.S. armed forces are required to file a Request for Certification of Military or Naval Service (Form N-426) along with their Application for Naturalization (Form N-400).

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POLICY ALERT - Certain Petitioning Employers’ Ability to Pay the Proffered Wage to Prospective Employee Beneficiaries

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to address the analysis of an employer’s ability to pay the proffered wage for certain employment-based immigrant petition adjudications.

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POLICY ALERT - International Entrepreneur Parole

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to address international entrepreneur parole.

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POLICY ALERT - Domestic Mobile Biometrics Collection and Remote Domestic Applicant Biometrics Collection

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to address mobile biometrics collection and the biometrics collection of benefit requestors in remote locations.

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POLICY ALERT - Evaluating Eligibility for O-1B Visa Classification

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to clarify how USCIS evaluates evidence to determine eligibility for the O-1B visa classification for nonimmigrants of extraordinary ability in the arts and nonimmigrants of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television (MPTV) industry.

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POLICY ALERT - On-Site Inspections for Religious Worker Petitions

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is updating policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual regarding on-site inspections for special immigrant and nonimmigrant religious worker petitions.

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POLICY ALERT - Special Student Relief for F-1 Nonimmigrant Students

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to clarify the validity period of employment authorization for F-1 students experiencing severe economic hardship due to emergent circumstances (also known as special student relief (SSR)).

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POLICY ALERT - Age Calculation under Child Status Protection Act

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to update when an immigrant visa “becomes available” for the purpose of calculating Child Status Protection Act (CSPA) age in certain situations.

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Technical Update - Public Charge Ground of Inadmissibility Final Rule

This technical update incorporates into Volume 8 the policy guidance that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced December 19, 2022, addressing the public charge ground of inadmissibility under section 212(a)(4) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), as implemented by the Public Charge Ground of Inadmissibility Final Rule, 87 FR 55472 (PDF) (Sep. 9, 2022).

This guidance became effective December 23, 2022, and applies to adjustment of status applications postmarked (or filed electronically, if applicable) on or after that date. For applications postmarked (or submitted electronically, if applicable) before December 23, 2022, USCIS will continue to apply the public charge ground of inadmissibility consistent with the statute and the 1999 Interim Field Guidance.

Technical Update - Permanent Resident Card Replacement

This technical update to Volume 11 eliminates reference to the extension sticker for expired permanent resident cards (PRCs), which is no longer in use, and clarifies how lawful permanent residents (LPRs) can request documentation of their LPR status when their PRC is expired. This update also clarifies when a conditional permanent resident may file Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card (Form I-90).

POLICY ALERT - Public Charge Ground of Inadmissibility Final Rule

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to address the public charge ground of inadmissibility under section 212(a)(4) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), as implemented by the Public Charge Ground of Inadmissibility Final Rule, 87 FR 55472 (PDF) (Sep. 9, 2022).

The new final rule and policy guidance become effective December 23, 2022, and apply to adjustment of status applications postmarked (or filed electronically, if applicable) on or after that date. For applications postmarked (or submitted electronically, if applicable) before December 23, 2022, USCIS will continue to apply the public charge ground of inadmissibility consistent with the statute and the 1999 Interim Field Guidance.

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POLICY ALERT - Extension of Permanent Resident Card for Naturalization Applicants

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to provide that USCIS may automatically extend the validity of a Permanent Resident Card (PRC) (Form I-551) through an Application for Naturalization (Form N-400) receipt notice, without regard to whether the applicant has filed an Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card (Form I-90). This guidance becomes effective December 12, 2022.

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POLICY ALERT - Revision of Medical Certification for Disability Exceptions (Form N-648)

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to clarify how medical professionals can properly complete the new version of the Medical Certification for Disability Exceptions (Form N-648) and request oath waivers based on a physical or developmental disability or mental impairment.

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POLICY ALERT - Calixto Settlement Agreement and Military Accessions Vital to National Interest Naturalization Applicants

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to update guidance regarding certain Military Accessions Vital to National Interest (MAVNI) naturalization applicants based on a settlement agreement in Calixto, et al., v. U.S. Dep’t of the Army, et al. (Calixto Agreement).

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POLICY ALERT - EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act of 2022

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to incorporate changes resulting from the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act of 2022.

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POLICY ALERT - Extension of Temporary Waiver of “60-Day Rule” for Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record (Form I-693)

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is extending the temporary waiver of the requirement that the civil surgeon’s signature on the Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record (Form I-693) be dated no more than 60 days before an applicant files the application for the underlying immigration benefit.

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Technical Update - Public Charge Final Rule

This technical update to Volume 8 alerts readers to the September 9, 2022 publication of the Public Charge Ground of Inadmissibility Final Rule, 87 FR 55472 (PDF), and clarifies that USCIS will continue to apply the 1999 Interim Field Guidance until the final rule goes into effect on December 23, 2022. For more information about how USCIS is applying the public charge ground of inadmissibility, see the Public Charge Resources webpage.

Technical Update - Disability Accommodation Requests

This technical update to Volume 1, General Policies and Procedures provides that anyone, including asylum and NACARA 203 applicants, may submit a disability accommodation request online.

Technical Update - Refugee Adjudications: Policies and Procedures

In accordance with Section 4(m) of Executive Order 14013 of February 4, 2021, Rebuilding and Enhancing Programs to Resettle Refugees and Planning for the Impact of Climate Change on Migration, 86 FR 8839 (Feb. 9, 2021), and considering necessary safeguards for program integrity, USCIS published several current policies and procedures related to the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program on the Refugee Adjudications: Policy and Procedures webpage. This technical update adds an alert box with a link to this webpage in the Policy Manual.

POLICY ALERT - Guidance for Special Immigrant and Nonimmigrant Religious Workers

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to reorganize and expand on existing guidance related to special immigrant religious workers.

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POLICY ALERT - L-1 Intracompany Transferees

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to clarify how USCIS determines eligibility for L-1 nonimmigrants seeking classification as managers or executives or specialized knowledge workers. Note: This update consolidates and updates guidance that was previously contained in the Adjudicator’s Field Manual (AFM) Chapter 32, as well as related AFM appendices and policy memoranda. This update is not intended to change existing policy or create new policy.

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POLICY ALERT - Uncharacterized Military Discharges Eligible for Naturalization

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to address eligibility of military service members with uncharacterized military discharges for purposes of naturalization under section 328 or section 329 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

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POLICY ALERT - O-1 Nonimmigrant Status for Persons of Extraordinary Ability

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is updating policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to further clarify how USCIS evaluates evidence to determine eligibility for O-1A nonimmigrants of extraordinary ability, with a focus on persons in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) fields.

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POLICY ALERT - Legislative Changes and Transition Affecting Afghan and Iraqi Special Immigrant Visas

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual on the transition of the responsibility to adjudicate certain Afghan special immigrant visa (SIV) petitions to the U.S. Department of State (DOS) and to incorporate other changes to the Afghan and Iraqi SIV classifications resulting from the Emergency Security Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021.

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Technical Update - Clarifications Addressing Passage of EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act of 2022

This technical update to Volume 6 clarifies the Policy Manual alert boxes published on April 27, 2022 relating to the recent EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act of 2022, which authorizes an EB-5 Immigrant Investor Regional Center Program and includes various implementation effective dates for the program. On June 24, 2022, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in Behring Regional Center LLC v. Mayorkas, et al, 3:22-cv-02487, issued a preliminary injunction enjoining USCIS “from treating as deauthorized the previously designated regional centers.” The April 27, 2022 alert remains posted for historical purposes.

POLICY ALERT - Temporary Protected Status and Eligibility for Adjustment of Status under Section 245(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is updating the USCIS Policy Manual to address the proper mechanism for authorizing travel by temporary protected status (TPS) beneficiaries, and how such travel may affect their eligibility for adjustment of status under section 245(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). USCIS is also updating the USCIS Policy Manual to reflect the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in Sanchez v. Mayorkas, 141 S.Ct. 1809 (2021).

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POLICY ALERT - INA 212(a)(9)(B) Policy Manual Guidance

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual on inadmissibility under section 212(a)(9)(B) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), specifically, the effect of returning to the United States during the statutory 3-year or 10-year period after departure or removal (if applicable). Under this policy guidance, a noncitizen who again seeks admission more than 3 or 10 years after the relevant departure or removal, is not inadmissible under INA 212(a)(9)(B) even if the noncitizen returned to the United States, with or without authorization, during the statutory 3-year or 10-year period.

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POLICY ALERT - Special Immigrant Juvenile Classification and Adjustment of Status

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is updating policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to incorporate changes from the Special Immigrant Juvenile Petitions Final Rule (SIJ Final Rule), including updated citations, new definitions, and clarifications.

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Technical Update - Health-Related Grounds of Inadmissibility

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is updating existing guidance based on revised Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Technical Instructions regarding gonorrhea and syphilis.

Technical Update - Documentary Requirements for National Interest Waiver Petition

This technical update to Volume 6, Part F aligns language related to documentation required for submission with a national interest waiver petition with the Form I-140 instructions. Specifically, consistent with those instructions, this update removes reference in the Policy Manual to the requirement that a petitioner submit two copies of the employee-specific portions of a permanent labor certification (without DOL approval).

Technical Update - Implementation of Special Immigrant Juvenile Classification and Deferred Action

This technical update incorporates the policy guidance that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced March 7, 2022, to consider deferred action (and related employment authorization) for noncitizens classified as Special Immigrant Juveniles (SIJs) who are ineligible to apply for adjustment of status to lawful permanent resident (LPR) status solely due to visa unavailability. This guidance became effective May 6, 2022.

Technical Update - Passage of EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act of 2022

This technical update to Volume 6 alerts readers to the passage of the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act of 2022, which authorizes an EB-5 Immigrant Investor Regional Center Program and includes various implementation effective dates for the program. The alert boxes refer readers to uscis.gov for the latest information on the implementation of that law. In addition, this update reserves and moves all of the content in Chapter 3 (Regional Center Designation, Reporting, Amendments, and Termination) to an appendix (Regional Center Program Prior to March 15, 2022) as Congress repealed that program.

POLICY ALERT - Interview Waiver Criteria for Family-Based Conditional Permanent Residents

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual on interview waiver criteria for family-based conditional permanent residents (CPRs) filing petitions to remove the conditions on permanent residence.

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POLICY ALERT - Qualifying Published Material and Scope of Leading or Critical Role in Extraordinary Ability and Outstanding Professor or Researcher Visa Classifications

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is updating the USCIS Policy Manual to align existing guidance on certain first preference immigrants with a recent Policy Manual update relating to nonimmigrants of extraordinary ability.

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POLICY ALERT - Documentation of Employment Authorization for Certain E and L Nonimmigrant Dependent Spouses

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is updating policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to address the documentation that certain E and L spouses may use as evidence of employment authorization incident to their status.

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POLICY ALERT - Special Immigrant Juvenile Classification and Deferred Action

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is updating the USCIS Policy Manual to consider deferred action (and related employment authorization) for noncitizens classified as Special Immigrant Juveniles (SIJs) who are ineligible to apply for adjustment of status to lawful permanent resident (LPR) status solely due to visa unavailability. This guidance becomes effective May 6, 2022.

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Technical Update - Request to Transfer Underlying Basis

This technical update to Volume 7 removes specific information about where to submit requests to transfer the underlying basis of a pending adjustment application and instead points readers to the instructions for requesting a transfer of basis on the USCIS website.

Technical Update - Updating USCIS Mission Statement

This technical update to Volume 1, Part A, incorporates the new USCIS mission statement: USCIS upholds America’s promise as a nation of welcome and possibility with fairness, integrity, and respect for all we serve.

Technical Update - Critical and Emerging Technologies in National Interest Waiver Context

This technical update to Volume 6 provides information in a footnote on the latest resources available to determine critical and emerging technologies.

Technical Update - Providing Link to Public Charge Resources Webpage

USCIS is administering the public charge inadmissibility statute (section 212(a)(4) of the Immigration and Nationality Act) consistent with the 1999 Interim Field Guidance to determine whether a noncitizen is inadmissible as likely at any time to become a public charge. The 1999 Interim Field Guidance is the policy that was in place before the 2019 Public Charge Final Rule was implemented. The 2019 Public Charge Final Rule is no longer in effect. For more information about how USCIS is applying the public charge ground of inadmissibility, see the Public Charge Resources webpage.

POLICY ALERT - Violence Against Women Act Self-Petitions

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is publishing policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual addressing Violence Against Women Act Self-Petitions.

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POLICY ALERT - Clarifying the Temporary Need Exemption for Certain H-2B Workers on Guam and in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to clarify how a petitioner may demonstrate that it qualifies for an exemption from the temporary need requirement for a nonimmigrant visa petition for a temporary nonagricultural H-2B worker on Guam and in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) that falls under the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 (FY 2021 NDAA).

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POLICY ALERT - Updating General Guidelines on Maximum Validity Periods for Employment Authorization Documents based on Certain Filing Categories

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is updating guidelines in the USCIS Policy Manual regarding validity periods for Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) for asylees and refugees, noncitizens with withholding of deportation or removal, noncitizens with deferred action, parolees, and Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) self-petitioners.

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POLICY ALERT - Use of Medical Examination Completed Abroad for Afghan Nationals Applying for Adjustment of Status After Evacuation Under Operation Allies Welcome

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to allow certain Afghan nationals applying for adjustment of status after evacuation under Operation Allies Welcome (OAW) to use the report of an immigration medical examination completed abroad by a panel physician to satisfy the requirement normally demonstrated on a Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record (Form I-693) completed by a USCIS-designated civil surgeon, as long as certain conditions are met.

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POLICY ALERT - Photographs and Signatures for Applications for Certificates of Citizenship

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is updating policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to specify that persons submitting an Application for Certificate of Citizenship (Form N-600) will generally now have their photographs taken at a biometrics appointment instead of submitting paper photographs and handwritten signatures, as applicable.

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Technical Update - Extension of Conditional Permanent Residence While Form I-829 is Pending

This technical update to Volume 6 removes references to the period of time for which the Petition by Investor to Remove Conditions on Permanent Resident Status (Form I-829) receipt notice shows proof of conditional permanent resident status.

POLICY ALERT - USCIS Expedite Criteria and Circumstances

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is updating policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual regarding criteria used to determine whether a case warrants expedited treatment.

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POLICY ALERT - National Interest Waivers for Advanced Degree Professionals or Persons of Exceptional Ability

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is updating policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to address requests for national interest waivers for advanced degree professionals or persons of exceptional ability.

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POLICY ALERT - O-1 Nonimmigrant Status for Persons of Extraordinary Ability or Achievement

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to clarify how USCIS evaluates evidence to determine eligibility for O-1A nonimmigrants of extraordinary ability, with a focus on persons in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) fields, as well as how USCIS determines whether an O-1 beneficiary’s prospective work is within the beneficiary’s area of extraordinary ability or achievement.

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POLICY ALERT - Determining the Appropriate O-1B Classification for Persons of Extraordinary Ability in the Arts or Extraordinary Achievement in the Motion Picture or Television Industry

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to clarify how USCIS determines whether an O-1B beneficiary is evaluated as a person of extraordinary ability in the arts (O-1B Arts) or as a person of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry (O-1B MPTV).

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POLICY ALERT - Temporary Waiver of “60-Day Rule” for Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record (Form I-693)

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is temporarily waiving the requirement that the civil surgeon’s signature on the Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record (Form I-693) be dated no more than 60 days before an applicant files the application for the underlying immigration benefit.

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POLICY ALERT - General Adjudications

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is incorporating and superseding existing guidance into the USCIS Policy Manual addressing topics in the context of general adjudications, including evidence, sworn statements, and adjudicative decisions.

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POLICY ALERT - Adoptions

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is publishing a volume in the USCIS Policy Manual regarding adoptions. This guidance incorporates basic requirements for the submission of adoption-based applications and petitions to USCIS.

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POLICY ALERT - Demonstrating Eligibility for Modification under Section 337 of the Immigration and Nationality Act

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is updating policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to clarify guidance related to requests for modifications to the Oath of Allegiance.

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POLICY ALERT - Employment Authorization for Certain H-4, E, and L Nonimmigrant Dependent Spouses

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to address automatic extension of employment authorization for certain H-4, E, and L nonimmigrant dependent spouses. USCIS is also rescinding the 2002 Legacy Immigration and Naturalization Service memorandum entitled, “Guidance on Employment Authorization for E and L Nonimmigrant Spouses, and for Determinations on the Requisite Employment Abroad for L Blanket Petition” (2002 INS memorandum).

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POLICY ALERT - Clarifying Guidance on Military Service Members and Naturalization

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to provide clarifications regarding certain naturalization applications filed by current or former members of the U.S. armed forces under sections 328 and 329 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

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POLICY ALERT - Evidence Supporting Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness-Based Adjustment of Status Applications

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is updating policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to clarify what steps applicants must take if they are not able to submit primary evidence of Liberian nationality to support an application for adjustment of status under the Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness (LRIF) law.

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POLICY ALERT - T Nonimmigrant Status for Victims of Severe Forms of Trafficking in Persons

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual regarding the adjudication of applications for T nonimmigrant status for victims of severe forms of trafficking in persons.

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Technical Update - Implementation of COVID-19 Vaccination Requirement for Immigration Medical Examination

This technical update incorporates the policy guidance that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced September 14, 2021, regarding health-related grounds of inadmissibility in accordance with recently updated requirements issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The updated guidance requires applicants subject to the immigration medical examination to submit COVID-19 vaccination records before completion of immigration medical examinations conducted in the United States and overseas. This guidance became effective October 1, 2021.

Technical Update - Incorporating Eleventh Circuit Case Law

This technical update to Volume 8 modifies several footnotes to note the divergence from the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA)’s decision in Matter of Richmond, 26 I&N Dec. 779, 787 (BIA 2016) in the Eleventh Circuit. In Patel v. U.S. Att'y Gen., 971 F.3d 1258, 1272 (11th Cir. 2020) (en banc), the Eleventh Circuit held that a false claim to U.S. citizenship does not have to be material in order to result in inadmissibility. This decision only applies to cases within the jurisdiction of the Eleventh Circuit, which covers Georgia, Alabama, and Florida. This update also removes redundant footnotes.

Technical Update - End of Temporary Extension of Validity Period of Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record (Form I-693)

This technical update to Volume 8 removes the temporary extension of the validity period of the Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record (Form I-693) announced August 12, 2021. This temporary extension expires October 1, 2021.

POLICY ALERT - Refugee and Asylee Adjustment of Status Interview Criteria and Guidelines

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is updating guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual regarding interview criteria for asylee and refugee adjustment of status applicants.

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POLICY ALERT - COVID-19 Vaccination Requirement for Immigration Medical Examination

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is updating guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual regarding health-related grounds of inadmissibility in accordance with recently updated requirements issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The updated guidance requires applicants subject to the immigration medical examination to submit COVID-19 vaccination records before completion of immigration medical examinations conducted in the United States and overseas. This guidance becomes effective October 1, 2021.

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POLICY ALERT - Temporary Extension of Validity Period of Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record (Form I-693)

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is temporarily extending the validity period of the Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record (Form I-693). This temporary extension is effective through September 30, 2021.

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POLICY ALERT - Rescinding Guidance on Discretionary Employment Authorization for Parolees

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is rescinding policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual on discretionary employment authorization for parolees.

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POLICY ALERT - Assisted Reproductive Technology and In-Wedlock Determinations for Immigration and Citizenship Purposes

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is updating guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual regarding the determination of whether a child born outside the United States, including a child born through Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART), is considered born “in wedlock.”

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POLICY ALERT - Extension of Blanket Civil Surgeon Designation for Certain Afghan Special Immigrant Visa Applicants

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to address the urgent need for additional civil surgeons to conduct immigration medical examinations in support of Operation Allies Refuge. This guidance became effective July 26, 2021.

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Technical Update - Adding References to the EB-5 Visa Program in Child Status Protection Act Guidance

This technical update to Volume 7 includes references to the EB-5 visa program and Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Investor, and clarifications regarding the Child Status Protection Act eligibility of derivative applicants of the VAWA-based Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant.

POLICY ALERT - Immigrant Investors and Investment of Loan Proceeds

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is revising policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to comply with a recent court order.

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POLICY ALERT - Change of Status to Nonimmigrant Student (F-1) Visa Classification

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual regarding applications for change of status (COS) to F-1 classification.

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Technical Update - Removing References to the U.S. Department of State’s 90-Day Rule

This technical update to Volume 8 removes all references to the U.S. Department of State’s 90-day rule.

Technical Update - EB-5 Modernization Rule Vacatur

This technical update explains that on June 22, 2021, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, in Behring Regional Center LLC v. Wolf, 20-cv-09263-JSC, vacated the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program Modernization Final Rule (PDF). While USCIS considers this decision, USCIS will apply the EB-5 regulations and policies that were in effect before the rule was finalized on November 21, 2019.

Technical Update - Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness

This technical update to Volume 7 clarifies what evidence an applicant may submit to establish Liberian nationality when applying for adjustment of status under the Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness (LRIF) law. It includes examples of secondary evidence that could support an applicant’s claim of Liberian nationality, as part of the totality of the evidence.

POLICY ALERT - Bona Fide Determination Process for Victims of Qualifying Crimes, and Employment Authorization and Deferred Action for Certain Petitioners

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is publishing guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual on employment authorization and deferred action for principal petitioners for U nonimmigrant status and qualifying family members with pending, bona fide petitions.

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POLICY ALERT - Requests for Evidence and Notices of Intent to Deny

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to address the circumstances in which officers should issue Requests for Evidence (RFEs) and Notices of Intent to Deny (NOIDs).

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POLICY ALERT - USCIS Expedite Criteria and Circumstances

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is updating policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual regarding criteria used to determine whether a case warrants expedited treatment.

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POLICY ALERT - Employment Authorization for Certain Adjustment Applicants

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is updating policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to increase the amount of time a grant of employment authorization is valid for applicants seeking adjustment of status under Section 245 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

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POLICY ALERT - Veterans Residing Outside the United States and Naturalization

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to provide clarifications regarding certain naturalization applications filed by veterans of the U.S. armed forces under section 329 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). These clarifications ensure eligible military veterans who served honorably during specifically designated periods of hostility and meet all other statutory requirements for naturalization are able to naturalize and become U.S. citizens in accordance with U.S. immigration laws.

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POLICY ALERT - Naturalization Eligibility and Voter Registration Through a State’s Benefit Application Process

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is updating policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual regarding applicants’ registration to vote through a state’s department of motor vehicles or other state benefit application process and the effects on an applicant’s good moral character (GMC).

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POLICY ALERT - Preserving Continuous Residence and Physical Presence for Purposes of Naturalization while Engaged in Religious Duties Outside the United States

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is updating policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual regarding preservation of continuous residence and physical presence for naturalization purposes for applicants engaged outside the United States in a qualifying religious vocation under section 317 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

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Technical Update - Incorporating New INA 320(c) Provision into Nationality Chart 3 - Derivative Citizenship of Children

This technical update to Volume 12 incorporates into Nationality Chart 3 the new INA 320(c) provision, as amended by Section 2 of the Citizenship for Children of Military Members and Civil Servants Act, regarding the automatic citizenship of a foreign-born child of a U.S. citizen employee of the U.S. government  or member of the U.S. armed forces.

Technical Update - Incorporating Existing Guidance into the Policy Manual

This technical update is part of an initiative to move existing policy guidance from the Adjudicator’s Field Manual (AFM) into the Policy Manual. This update does not make major substantive changes but consolidates and incorporates existing AFM guidance into the Policy Manual, streamlining USCIS’ immigration policy while removing obsolete information. This guidance replaces Chapter 30.4 of the AFM, related appendices, and policy memoranda.

Technical Update - Incorporating Existing Guidance into the Policy Manual

This technical update is part of an initiative to move existing policy guidance from the Adjudicator’s Field Manual (AFM) into the Policy Manual. This update does not make major substantive changes but consolidates and incorporates existing AFM guidance into the Policy Manual, streamlining USCIS’ immigration policy while removing obsolete information. This guidance replaces Chapter 21.7 of the AFM, related appendices, and policy memoranda.

Technical Update - Incorporating Existing Guidance into the Policy Manual

This technical update is part of an initiative to move existing policy guidance from the Adjudicator’s Field Manual (AFM) into the Policy Manual. This update does not make major substantive changes but consolidates and incorporates existing AFM guidance into the Policy Manual, streamlining USCIS’ immigration policy while removing obsolete information. This guidance replaces Chapters 22.1 and 22.2 of the AFM, related appendices, and policy memoranda.

Technical Update - Program Extension and Visa Numbers for Special Immigrant Visas for Afghans Who Were Employed by or on Behalf of the U.S. Government

This technical update directs readers to visit the USCIS webpage for the latest information on Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program extensions and visa numbers for Afghans who were employed by or on behalf of the U.S. Government.

POLICY ALERT - Exemption to the Temporary Need Requirement for Certain H-2B Workers on Guam and in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands under the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is providing guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual regarding the filing and adjudication of temporary nonagricultural worker (H-2B) nonimmigrant visa petitions that fall under Section 9502 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 (FY 2021 NDAA).

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Technical Update - Replacing the Term “Alien”

This technical update replaces all instances of the term “alien” with “noncitizen” or other appropriate terms throughout the Policy Manual where possible, as used to refer to a person who meets the definition provided in INA 101(a)(3) [“any person not a citizen or national of the United States”].

POLICY ALERT - Deference to Prior Determinations of Eligibility in Requests for Extensions of Petition Validity

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to address the issue of deference to prior determinations of eligibility by an officer when adjudicating a request for an extension of petition validity.

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Technical Update - Temporary Proof of Lawful Permanent Resident Status

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is updating guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual regarding the temporary proof of status USCIS provides to lawful permanent residents (LPRs) applying to replace an expiring Permanent Resident Card (PRC).

POLICY ALERT - Additional Guidance Relating to P-1A Internationally Recognized Athletes

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to update and clarify guidance for internationally recognized athletes (P-1A nonimmigrants).

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POLICY ALERT - Special Immigrant Juvenile Classification and Saravia v. Barr Settlement

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is updating the USCIS Policy Manual regarding the special immigrant juvenile (SIJ) classification to incorporate changes agreed to in the settlement agreement resulting from the Saravia v. Barr class action lawsuit.

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Technical Update - Removing Guidance on Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds

This technical update removes the guidance in Volume 2, Part A, Chapter 4, Volume 8, Part G, and Volume 12, Part D, Chapter 2 relating to the administration of the public charge ground of inadmissibility under the Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds final rule, 84 FR 41292 (Aug. 14, 2019); as amended by Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds; Correction, 84 FR 52357 (Oct. 2, 2019) ( “Public Charge Final Rule”), which was implemented on Feb. 24, 2020. On Nov. 2, 2020, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois vacated the Public Charge Final Rule nationwide. On Nov. 3, 2020, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit issued an administrative stay and, on Nov. 19, 2020, a stay pending appeal of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois’ Nov. 2, 2020 decision. On Mar. 9, 2021, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit lifted its stay and the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois’ order vacating the Public Charge Final Rule went into effect. USCIS immediately stopped applying the Public Charge Final Rule to all pending applications and petitions that would have been subject to the rule. For information on related litigation affecting implementation, see the Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds Final Rule: Litigation webpage.

Technical Update - Implementation of Revised Guidance on Naturalization Civics Educational Requirement

This technical update incorporates into Volume 12 the policy guidance that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced February 22, 2021, addressing educational requirements for naturalization to demonstrate a knowledge and understanding of the fundamentals of the history, and of the principles and form of government, of the United States (civics) under section 312 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Specifically, USCIS is reverting back to the 2008 version of the civics test, allowing a brief period during which USCIS may also offer the 2020 version of the test to applicants affected by the timing of this update. This guidance became effective March 1, 2021.

POLICY ALERT - Revising Guidance on Naturalization Civics Educational Requirement

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is updating policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual regarding the educational requirements for naturalization to demonstrate a knowledge and understanding of the fundamentals of the history, and of the principles and form of government, of the United States (civics) under section 312 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Specifically, USCIS is reverting back to the 2008 version of the civics test, allowing a brief period during which USCIS may also offer the 2020 version of the test to applicants affected by the timing of this update. This guidance becomes effective March 1, 2021.

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Technical Update - Updating Filing Deadline for Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness Adjustment of Status Applications

This technical update to Volume 7 adjusts the filing deadline for Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness (LRIF) adjustment of status applications to December 20, 2021, to reflect an extension by Congress.

POLICY ALERT - Applications for Discretionary Employment Authorization Involving Certain Adjustment Applications or Deferred Action

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is providing policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual regarding applications for discretionary employment authorization based on 8 CFR 274a.12(c)(9) (pending application for adjustment of status under INA 245) or 8 CFR 274a.12(c)(14) (grant of deferred action). USCIS is also providing guidance outlining the categories of aliens eligible for discretionary employment authorization.

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POLICY ALERT - Refugee and Asylee Adjustment of Status Interview Criteria and Guidelines

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is updating guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual regarding adjustment of status interview waiver categories and expanding the interview criteria for asylee and refugee adjustment of status applicants.

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Technical Update - Incorporating Existing Guidance into the Policy Manual

This technical update is part of an initiative to move existing policy guidance from the Adjudicator’s Field Manual (AFM) into the Policy Manual. This update does not make major substantive changes but consolidates and incorporates existing AFM guidance into the Policy Manual, streamlining USCIS’ immigration policy while removing obsolete information. This guidance replaces Chapter 23.5(c) of the AFM, related appendices, and policy memoranda.

Technical Update - Clarifying Acquisition of Citizenship Requirement in Nationality Chart 2 for Children Born Out of Wedlock Before May 24, 1934

This technical update to Volume 12 incorporates a clarification to Nationality Chart 2 to align with the provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Technical Corrections Act of 1994 (INTCA), which affected acquisition of citizenship for children born before May 24, 1934. Specifically, this technical update clarifies that an alien child born out of wedlock before May 24, 1934 acquires citizenship retroactively to the time of birth in cases where the child’s mother resided in the United States at any time before the child’s birth, regardless of whether the child was legitimated by the alien father.

POLICY ALERT - Properly Completed Medical Certification For Disability Exception (N-648)

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to reflect changes made in the new version of the Medical Certification for Disability Exception (Form N-648).

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POLICY ALERT - Schedule A Designation

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to address Schedule A designations.

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Technical Update - Implementation of Redesigned Civics Test for Educational Requirement for Naturalization

This technical update incorporates into Volume 12 the policy guidance that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced November 13, 2020, addressing the educational requirements for naturalization on the knowledge and understanding of the fundamentals of the history, and of the principles and form of government, of the United States (civics) under section 312 of the Immigration and Nationality Act. This guidance became effective December 1, 2020.

POLICY ALERT - Prerequisite of Lawful Admission for Permanent Residence under All Applicable Provisions for Purposes of Naturalization

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is updating policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to ensure consistency in the naturalization decision-making process and to clarify circumstances under which an applicant may be found ineligible for naturalization if the applicant was not lawfully admitted to the United States for permanent residence in accordance with all applicable provisions under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

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POLICY ALERT - Job Portability after Filing Application to Adjust Status

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to consolidate and update guidance on the ability to change to a same or similar job, also known as portability, for certain beneficiaries of employment-based immigrant petitions after they have applied to adjust status.

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POLICY ALERT - Use of Discretion for Adjustment of Status

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is updating existing policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual regarding the discretionary factors to consider in adjudications of adjustment of status applications.

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POLICY ALERT - Civics Educational Requirement for Purposes of Naturalization

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is updating policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual regarding the educational requirements for naturalization on the knowledge and understanding of the fundamentals of the history, and of the principles and form of government, of the United States (civics) under section 312 of the Immigration and Nationality Act. This guidance becomes effective December 1, 2020.

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POLICY ALERT - Age and “Sought to Acquire” Requirement under Child Status Protection Act

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is updating policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual regarding the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA), to include how USCIS calculates age under certain contexts and what actions satisfy the “sought to acquire” requirement.

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POLICY ALERT - Nonimmigrant Cultural Visitor (Q) Visa Classification

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual regarding the nonimmigrant cultural visitor visa classification, commonly known as the “Q” visa category.

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POLICY ALERT - Temporary Protected Status and Eligibility for Adjustment of Status under Section 245(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is updating policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual regarding whether temporary protected status (TPS) beneficiaries are eligible for adjustment of status under section 245(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

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POLICY ALERT - Inadmissibility Based on Membership in a Totalitarian Party

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to address inadmissibility based on membership in or affiliation with the Communist or any other totalitarian party.

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Technical Update - Clarifying Requests for Relief Under INA 204(l)

This technical update clarifies how applicants and petitioners may request relief under INA 204(l).

POLICY ALERT - Residency Requirements for Children of Service Members and Government Employees Residing Outside of the United States for Purposes of Acquisition of Citizenship

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is updating policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual regarding residency requirements under Section 320 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), as amended by the Citizenship for Children of Military Members and Civil Servants Act.

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POLICY ALERT - O Nonimmigrant Visa Classification

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to update and consolidate guidance related to O nonimmigrant classifications.

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Technical Update - Incorporating Existing Guidance into the Policy Manual

This technical update is part of an initiative to move existing policy guidance from the Adjudicator’s Field Manual (AFM) into the Policy Manual. This update does not make major substantive changes but consolidates and incorporates existing AFM guidance into the Policy Manual, streamlining USCIS’ immigration policy while removing obsolete information. This guidance replaces Chapter 33 of the AFM, related appendices, and policy memoranda.

Technical Update - Clarifying Dates of Absence for Continuous Residence

This technical update clarifies the examples provided to illustrate the impact of absences from the United States for purposes of the continuous residence requirement for naturalization, including the hypothetical dates used in the examples.

POLICY ALERT - Fee Schedule and Changes to Certain Other Immigration Benefit Request Requirements Final Rule

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is revising its policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to align with the Fee Schedule and Changes to Certain Other Immigration Benefit Request Requirements Final Rule, published in the Federal Register on August 3, 2020. This guidance becomes effective October 2, 2020. For information regarding implementation, see Appendix: 2020 Fee Rule Litigation Summary.

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Technical Update - Braille-Related Accommodations for the Naturalization Test

This technical update incorporates references to Braille-related accommodations for the naturalization test.

Technical Update - Removing Exemption from Discretion for Asylum Applicants Seeking Employment Authorization under 8 CFR 274a.12(c)(8)

This technical update removes the exemption from discretion for asylum applicants seeking employment authorization under 8 CFR 274a.12(c)(8). The Asylum Application, Interview, and Employment Authorization for Applicants Final Rule (Final Rule) (effective August 25, 2020) amended 8 CFR 274a.13(a)(1) to eliminate the exemption. Accordingly, asylum applicants who file applications for employment authorization on or after August 25, 2020 are subject to discretion like other applicants seeking employment authorization under 8 CFR 274a.12(c). Note: On September 11, 2020, the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland in Casa de Maryland et al v. Chad Wolf provided limited injunctive relief to members of two organizations, CASA de Maryland (CASA) and the Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project (ASAP), in the application of the Final Rule to Form I-589s and Form I-765s filed by asylum applicants who are also members of CASA or ASAP. Therefore, while the rule is preliminarily enjoined, we will continue to apply the prior regulatory language and exempt from discretion CASA and ASAP members who file a Form I-765 based on an asylum application.

POLICY ALERT - Clarifying Procedures for Terminating Asylum Status in Relation to Consideration of an Application for Adjustment of Status

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to update and clarify the procedures USCIS officers follow when termination of asylum status is considered in relation to adjudicating an asylum-based adjustment of status application.

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Technical Update - Foreign Residency Requirement

This technical update provides clarification on the 2-year foreign residence requirement for certain exchange visitors subject to INA 212(e).

Technical Update - Incorporating Existing Guidance into the Policy Manual

This technical update is part of an initiative to move existing policy guidance from the Adjudicator’s Field Manual (AFM) into the Policy Manual. This update does not make major substantive changes but consolidates and incorporates existing AFM guidance into the Policy Manual, streamlining USCIS’ immigration policy while removing obsolete information. This guidance replaces Chapters 22.3 and 26 of the AFM, related appendices, and policy memoranda.

POLICY ALERT - Clarifying Guidance for Deployment of Capital in Employment-Based Fifth Preference (EB-5) Category

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing clarifying policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual regarding deployment of investment capital, including further deployment after the job creation requirement is satisfied.

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POLICY ALERT - Applying Discretion in USCIS Adjudications

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is consolidating existing policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual regarding the discretionary analysis required in the adjudication of certain benefit requests, including certain applications for employment authorization.

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Technical Update - Removing Obsolete Form I-508F

This technical update removes references to Form I-508F, Request for Waiver of Certain Rights, Privileges, Exemptions and Immunities. French nationals are covered by a special convention between France and the United States. Previously, French nationals were required to submit both Form I-508 and Form I-508F to USCIS. The 11/08/19 form edition combines information from both forms. Therefore, French nationals are now only required to submit Form I-508.

Technical Update - Removing WA Food Assistance Program from the List of Public Benefits Considered

This technical update removes the WA Food Assistance Program for Legal Immigrants from the list of examples of state, local, and tribal cash assistance programs that are considered income maintenance for purposes of the public charge inadmissibility determination.

Technical Update - Moving the Adjudicator’s Field Manual Content into the USCIS Policy Manual

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is updating and incorporating relevant Adjudicator’s Field Manual (AFM) content into the USCIS Policy Manual. As that process is ongoing, USCIS has moved any remaining AFM content to its corresponding USCIS Policy Manual Part, in PDF format, until relevant AFM content has been properly incorporated into the USCIS Policy Manual. To the extent that a provision in the USCIS Policy Manual conflicts with remaining AFM content or Policy Memoranda, the updated information in the USCIS Policy Manual prevails. To find remaining AFM content, see the crosswalk (PDF, 316.97 KB) between the AFM and the Policy Manual.

Technical Update - National Interest Waiver Portability Provisions

This technical update clarifies guidance within the USCIS Policy Manual on portability for physicians with an approved immigrant petition based on a national interest waiver (NIW) applying for adjustment of status, and the applicability of the 2-year foreign residence requirement of INA 212(e) to certain NIW physicians.

Technical Update - Incorporating Existing Guidance into the Policy Manual

This technical update is part of an initiative to move existing policy guidance from the Adjudicator’s Field Manual (AFM) into the Policy Manual. This update does not make major substantive changes but consolidates and incorporates existing AFM guidance into the Policy Manual, streamlining USCIS’ immigration policy while removing obsolete information. This guidance replaces Chapters 1, 3.4, 10.2, 10.3(a), 10.3(c), 10.3(e), 10.3(i), 10.4, 10.22, 11.1(c), 13, 14, 17, 23.8, 31.7, 33.10, 34.5, 35, 41.6, 42, 44, 56.1, 56.3, 56.4, 62, 81, 82, 83.1, 83.2, and 83.3 of the AFM, related appendices, and policy memoranda.

POLICY ALERT - False Claim to U.S. Citizenship Ground of Inadmissibility and Matter of Zhang

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is updating policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual regarding the false claim to U.S. citizenship ground of inadmissibility.

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Technical Update - Removing Obsolete Form I-864W

This technical update removes references to Form I-864W, Request for Exemption for Intending Immigrant’s Affidavit of Support, which was discontinued by the Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds Rule and is no longer used by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

POLICY ALERT - Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual regarding eligibility requirements, filing, and adjudication of adjustment of status applications based on the Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness law.

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Technical Update - Replacing the Term “Entrepreneur”

This technical update replaces instances of the term “entrepreneur” with “investor” throughout the Policy Manual in accordance with the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program Final Rule.

Technical Update - Use of Photographs as Biometrics

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is incorporating general information on USCIS’ use of photographs as biometrics.

POLICY ALERT - Submission of Benefit Requests

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual regarding submission of benefit requests to USCIS.

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POLICY ALERT - Effect of Breaks in Continuity of Residence on Eligibility for Naturalization

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to address naturalization applicants’ absences from the United States of more than 6 months but less than 1 year during the statutorily required continuous residence period.

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POLICY ALERT - Implementation of Guidance on Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds

Note: On Nov. 2, 2020, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois vacated the Public Charge Final Rule nationwide. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit later issued a stay of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois’ Nov. 2, 2020 decision. On Mar. 9, 2021, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit lifted the stay and the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois’ order vacating the Public Charge Final Rule went into effect. USCIS immediately stopped applying the Public Charge Final Rule to all pending applications and petitions that would have been subject to the rule. For information on related litigation affecting implementation, see the Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds Final Rule: Litigation webpage. The alert text below and related guidance are no longer in effect.

This update incorporates into Volumes 2, 8, and 12 policy guidance that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced February 5, 2020, implementing the Inadmissibility of Public Charge Grounds Final Rule. This guidance is in effect as of February 24, 2020 and applies nationwide to all applications and petitions postmarked on or after that date. Certain classes of aliens are exempt from the public charge ground of inadmissibility (such as refugees, asylees, certain VAWA self-petitioners, U petitioners, and T applicants) and therefore, are not subject to the Final Rule. For more information about the classes of [noncitizens] who are exempt from the Final Rule, see the appendices related to applicability. For information on related litigation affecting implementation, see the USCIS webpage on the injunction.

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POLICY ALERT - Public Charge Ground of Inadmissibility

Note: On Nov. 2, 2020, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois vacated the Public Charge Final Rule nationwide. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit later issued a stay of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois’ Nov. 2, 2020 decision. On Mar. 9, 2021, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit lifted the stay and the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois’ order vacating the Public Charge Final Rule went into effect. USCIS immediately stopped applying the Public Charge Final Rule to all pending applications and petitions that would have been subject to the rule. For information on related litigation affecting implementation, see the Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds Final Rule: Litigation webpage. The alert text below and related guidance are no longer in effect.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to address the final rule on the public charge ground of inadmissibility. This policy guidance is effective on February 24, 2020, and will apply to all applicants and petitioners filing applications and petitions for adjustment of status, extension of stay, and change of status, except for applicants and petitioners in the State of Illinois, whose cases will be adjudicated under prior policy, including the 1999 Interim Field Guidance (PDF) and AFM Ch. 61.1 (PDF). For additional information, see Public Charge Inadmissibility Determinations in Illinois. Certain classes of aliens are exempt from the public charge ground of inadmissibility (such as refugees, asylees, certain VAWA self-petitioners, U petitioners, and T applicants) and therefore, are not subject to the Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds final rule. For more information about the classes of [noncitizens] who are exempt from the final rule, see the appendices related to applicability.

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POLICY ALERT - Accepting Petition for Alien Relative (Form I-130) Abroad

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to address the limited circumstances in which USCIS has delegated authority to the U.S. Department of State to accept and adjudicate the Form I-130 filed abroad at U.S. embassies and consulates. This guidance becomes effective February 1, 2020.

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POLICY ALERT - Biometrics Services Updates

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to address the availability of mobile biometrics services and clarify guidance on the validity period for fingerprint waivers.

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POLICY ALERT - Replacing Permanent Resident Card

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual regarding eligibility requirements, filing, and adjudication of requests to replace Permanent Resident Cards using the Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card (Form I-90).

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Technical Update - Naturalization of Spouses Subjected to Battery or Extreme Cruelty by U.S. Citizen Spouse

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is updating policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to clarify that the spouse of a U.S. citizen who was subjected to battery or extreme cruelty by his or her U.S. citizen spouse does not need to establish that he or she is still married to the abusive spouse at the time he or she files the application for naturalization.

POLICY ALERT - Effect of Travel Abroad by Temporary Protected Status Beneficiaries with Final Orders of Removal

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is updating the USCIS Policy Manual to clarify the effect of travel outside the United States by temporary protected status beneficiaries who have final removal orders.

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Technical Update - Naturalization for Surviving Spouse, Child, or Parent of Service Member

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is clarifying guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to indicate that the spouse, child, or parent of a deceased U.S. citizen member of the U.S. armed forces who died “during a period of honorable service” (instead of as the result of honorable service) may be eligible for naturalization as the surviving relative of the service member, consistent with the statutory language in INA 319(d).

POLICY ALERT - Conditional Bar to Good Moral Character for Unlawful Acts

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is updating policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual on unlawful acts during the applicable statutory period that reflect adversely on moral character and may prevent an applicant from meeting the good moral character requirement for naturalization.

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POLICY ALERT - Implementing the Decisions on Driving Under the Influence Convictions on Good Moral Character Determinations and Post-Sentencing Changes

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual regarding how post-sentencing changes to criminal sentences impact convictions for immigration purposes and how two or more driving under the influence convictions affects good moral character determinations. These updates incorporate two recent decisions issued by the Attorney General.

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Technical Update - Health-Related Grounds of Inadmissibility

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is updating existing guidance based on revised Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Technical Instructions regarding tuberculosis, gonorrhea, and syphilis and the change in nomenclature from leprosy to Hansen’s Disease. USCIS is also updating how USCIS submits a request to CDC for advisory opinion and removing the outdated vaccination chart.

Technical Update - Implementation of Fees for Submission of Benefit Requests

This technical update incorporates into Volume 1 the policy guidance that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced October 25, 2019, regarding submission and acceptance of fees for immigration benefit requests. USCIS published this guidance with an effective date of December 2, 2019. Note: On December 11, 2019, the Federal District Court for the Northern District of California in Seattle v. DHS enjoined the Department of Homeland Security from requiring use of the new version of Form I-912, Request for Fee Waiver. USCIS has noted this in the corresponding Policy Manual guidance and reinstated the prior fee waiver policy guidance at AFM 10.9 (PDF, 2.43 MB) and 10.10 (PDF, 2.43 MB).

POLICY ALERT - Adjustment on New Basis After Termination of Conditional Permanent Residence

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to update and clarify when USCIS may adjust the status of an applicant whose conditional permanent resident (CPR) status was terminated.

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POLICY ALERT - USCIS Special Immigrant Juvenile Classification

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is updating the USCIS Policy Manual regarding the special immigrant juvenile (SIJ) classification.

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POLICY ALERT - EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program Modernization Final Rule

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is revising its policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to align with the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program Modernization Final Rule, published on July 24, 2019, and effective November 21, 2019. Note: On June 22, 2021, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, in Behring Regional Center LLC v. Wolf, 20-cv-09263-JSC, vacated the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program Modernization Final Rule (PDF). While USCIS considers this decision, USCIS will apply the EB-5 regulations and policies that were in effect before the rule was finalized on November 21, 2019.

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Technical Update - Implementation of Policy Guidance on Defining “Residence” in Statutory Provisions Related to Citizenship

This technical update incorporates into Volume 12 the policy guidance that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced August 28, 2019 addressing requirements for “residence” in statutory provisions related to citizenship. This guidance became effective October 29, 2019. 

POLICY ALERT - Fees for Submission of Benefit Requests

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual regarding submission and acceptance of fees for immigration benefit requests, with an effective date of December 2, 2019. Note: On December 11, 2019, the Federal District Court for the Northern District of California in Seattle v. DHS enjoined the Department of Homeland Security from requiring use of the new version of Form I-912, Request for Fee Waiver. USCIS has noted this in the corresponding Policy Manual guidance and reinstated the prior fee waiver policy guidance at AFM 10.9 (PDF, 2.87 MB) (PDF, 2.43 MB) and 10.10 (PDF, 2.87 MB) (PDF, 2.43 MB).

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Technical Update - Replacing the Term “Foreign National”

This technical update replaces all instances of the term “foreign national” with “alien” throughout the Policy Manual as used to refer to a person who meets the definition provided in INA 101(a)(3) [“any person not a citizen or national of the United States”].

Technical Update - Clarifying Policies and Procedures for Replacing Permanent Resident Cards

This technical update clarifies that, in circumstances involving the replacement or reissuance of a Permanent Resident Card, an Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card (Form I-90) is always required as outlined in form instructions and regulations. This may differ from the general reissuance policy.

POLICY ALERT - Defining “Residence” in Statutory Provisions Related to Citizenship

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to address requirements for “residence” in statutory provisions related to citizenship, and to rescind previous guidance regarding children of U.S. government employees and members of the U.S. armed forces employed or stationed outside the United States. This guidance becomes effective October 29, 2019.

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POLICY ALERT - Employment Authorization for Parolees

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is updating its existing policies on the exercise of discretion to address the use of discretion when assessing if certain foreign nationals who are paroled into the United States should be employment authorized.

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Technical Update - Civil Surgeon Designation and Revocation

This technical update changes language to state that USCIS officers “may” refer proposed civil surgeon designation revocations to the USCIS Office of the Chief Counsel for review. Previously, the language specified that USCIS counsel “must” review any proposed civil surgeon designation revocation.

Technical Update - Fraud and Willful Misrepresentation and Department of State’s 90-Day Rule

This technical update incorporates clarifications regarding the Department of State (DOS)'s "90-day rule." While this "rule" does not apply to USCIS because it is DOS policy, USCIS is clarifying that it may also find that an applicant made a willful misrepresentation due to a status violation or conduct in the United States that is inconsistent with the applicant's prior representations, especially where the violation or conduct occurred shortly after the consular interview or admission to the United States.

POLICY ALERT - USCIS Public Services

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is updating policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual regarding services USCIS provides to the public, including general administration of certain immigration benefits, online tools, and up-to-date information.

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Technical Update - Medical Certification for Disability Exceptions

This technical update incorporates minor clarifying editorial changes to the policy guidance regarding the Medical Certification for Disability Exceptions (Form N-648).

Technical Update - Communicating with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

This technical update removes references to sending documents to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) by mail or fax. CDC now prefers all requests for waiver consultations and any subsequent notifications from USCIS to be communicated by email.

POLICY ALERT - Controlled Substance-Related Activity and Good Moral Character Determinations

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to clarify that violation of federal controlled substance law, including for marijuana, remains a conditional bar to establishing good moral character (GMC) for naturalization even where that conduct would not be an offense under state law.

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Technical Update - Implementation of Policy Guidance on Medical Certification for Disability Exceptions (Form N-648)

​This technical update incorporates into Volume 12 the policy guidance that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced December 12, 2018 regarding the Medical Certification for Disability Exceptions (Form N-648). This guidance became effective February 12, 2019.

Technical Update - Visa Retrogression

​This technical update removes language that restricted USCIS officers’ ability to request a visa number from the Department of State in cases involving visa retrogression. As with all INA 245(a) adjustment cases, a visa must be available at the time of final adjudication.

Technical Update - Child Status Protection Act

This technical update clarifies that certain child beneficiaries of family-sponsored immigrant visa petitions who are ineligible for the Child Status Protection Act may continue their adjustment of status application if the petition is automatically converted to an eligible category.

POLICY ALERT - Policies and Procedures for Secure Identity Documents

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to address the general policies and procedures related to secure documents.

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POLICY ALERT - Sufficiency of Medical Certification for Disability Exceptions (Form N-648)

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to update and clarify filing procedures and adjudications on the Medical Certification for Disability Exceptions (Form N-648). This guidance becomes effective February 12, 2019.

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POLICY ALERT - Immigrant Investors and Debt Arrangements

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is revising policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to clarify its policy on debt arrangements.

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POLICY ALERT - Use of Form G-325A

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is updating policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to remove references to Biographic Information (Form G-325A).

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POLICY ALERT - Validity of Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record (Form I-693)

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is updating policy guidance in Volume 8, Part B of the USCIS Policy Manual regarding the period of time during which a Form I-693 submitted in support of a related immigration benefits application is considered valid.

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POLICY ALERT - Marriage and Living in Marital Union Requirements for Naturalization

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is updating policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to clarify the marriage and living in marital union requirements under section 319(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

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POLICY ALERT - Special Naturalization Provisions for Children

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance to amend the USCIS Policy Manual to clarify certain special naturalization provisions for children.

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Technical Update - Authorized Medical Professionals

This technical update provides clarification on the medical professionals (medical doctors, doctors of osteopathy, and clinical psychologists) authorized to complete a written evaluation of medical condition in connection with an oath waiver request.

POLICY ALERT - Geographic Area of a Regional Center

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is updating guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual regarding a regional center’s geographic area, requests to expand the geographic area, and how such requests impact the filing of Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur.

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Technical Update - Certificates of Citizenship for U.S. National Children

This technical update clarifies that a person who is born a U.S. national and is the child of a U.S. citizen may acquire citizenship and may obtain a Certificate of Citizenship without having to establish lawful permanent resident status.

Technical Update - Rescinding Tenant-Occupancy Methodology

This technical update clarifies that the rescission of the policy regarding the tenant-occupancy methodology does not affect petitions pending on May 15, 2018 (the date USCIS announced the rescission).

POLICY ALERT - Child Status Protection Act

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual regarding the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA).

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POLICY ALERT - Adjustment of Status Interview Guidelines and Waiver Criteria

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is updating guidance regarding adjustment of status interview guidelines and interview waivers.

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POLICY ALERT - Rescinding Tenant-Occupancy Methodology

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is revising policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to reflect that, as of May 15, 2018, USCIS no longer considers tenant occupancy to be a reasonable methodology to support economically or statistically valid forecasting tools.

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POLICY ALERT - Documentation of Conditional Resident Status for Investors with a Pending Form I-829

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is updating policy guidance regarding the documentation of conditional permanent resident (CPR) status for employment-based fifth preference (EB-5) immigrants.

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POLICY ALERT - Acquisition of U.S. Citizenship for Children Born Out of Wedlock

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is updating policy guidance to clarify certain requirements for U.S. citizenship for children born outside the United States and out of wedlock under INA 301 and 309. USCIS is making conforming edits to the USCIS nationality charts.

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Technical Update - Fraud and Willful Misrepresentation and Department of State’s 90-Day Rule

This technical update incorporates changes that the Department of State (DOS) made to its Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM) regarding its interpretation of the term “misrepresentation.”

Technical Update - Military Accessions Vital to National Interest

This technical update clarifies that foreign nationals may apply for military naturalization after the certification of honorable service has been properly processed by the U.S. armed forces.

Technical Update - Authority to Administer the Oath of Allegiance

This technical update clarifies that the Secretary of Homeland Security has, through the Director of USCIS, delegated the authority to administer the Oath during an administrative naturalization ceremony to certain USCIS officials who can successively re-delegate the authority within their chains of command.

POLICY ALERT - Waiver Policies and Procedures

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance to address the general policies and procedures applicable to the adjudication of waivers of inadmissibility.

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POLICY ALERT - Biometrics Requirements for Naturalization

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is updating policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to specify that every naturalization applicant must provide biometrics regardless of age, unless the applicant qualifies for a fingerprint waiver due to certain medical conditions.

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POLICY ALERT - Administrative Naturalization Ceremonies

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is updating policy guidance on USCIS administrative naturalization ceremonies, to include guidance regarding participation from other U.S. government and non-governmental entities.

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POLICY ALERT - Job Creation and Capital At Risk Requirements for Investors

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is updating the USCIS Policy Manual to provide further guidance regarding the job creation and capital at risk requirements for Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur, and Form I-829, Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions on Permanent Resident Status.

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Technical Update - Clarifying Intent to Reside in United States for Naturalization Purposes

This technical update clarifies that naturalization applicants are not required to intend to reside permanently in the United States after becoming U.S. citizens. This update is in accordance with current statutes; prior to 1994, a person who became a naturalized U.S. citizen was expected to hold the intention of residing permanently in the United States. See Section 104 of the Immigration and Nationality Technical Corrections Act of 1994, Pub. L. 103-416 (October 25, 1994).

Technical Update - Medical Codes for Purposes of Medical Certification for Disability Exceptions

This technical update clarifies that, for purposes of Form N-648, Medical Certification for Disability Exceptions, USCIS accepts the relevant medical codes recognized by the Department of Health and Human Services. This includes codes found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders and the International Classification of Diseases.

POLICY ALERT - Registration of Lawful Permanent Resident Status

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance addressing registration of lawful permanent resident (LPR) status.

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POLICY ALERT - False Claim to U.S. Citizenship Ground of Inadmissibility

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing guidance to address the false claim to U.S. citizenship ground of inadmissibility under section 212(a)(6)(C)(ii) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). 

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Technical Update - Clarifying Designated Periods of Hostilities for Naturalization under INA 329

This technical update clarifies that, for purposes of naturalization under INA 329, the current period designated by Presidential Executive Order 13269 (July 3, 2002), as a period in which the U.S. armed forces are considered to be engaged in armed conflict with a hostile foreign force, is still in effect. In addition, this update adds information about the USCIS Military Help Line in this part.

POLICY ALERT - Employment-Based Fifth Preference Immigrants: Investors

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance regarding the eligibility requirements for regional centers and immigrant investors.

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POLICY ALERT - Definition of Certain Classes of Medical Conditions and Other Updates Relating to Health-Related Grounds of Inadmissibility

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is updating guidance regarding health-related grounds of inadmissibility in accordance with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) rulemaking updating Title 42 of the Code of Federal Regulations, part 34 (42 CFR 34).

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POLICY ALERT - Special Immigrant Juvenile Classification and Special Immigrant-Based Adjustment of Status

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance regarding the special immigrant juvenile (SIJ) classification and special immigrant-based (EB-4) adjustment of status, including adjustment based on classification as a special immigrant religious worker, SIJ, and G-4 international organization or NATO-6 employee or family member, among others.

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POLICY ALERT - Determining Extreme Hardship

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance on determinations of extreme hardship to qualifying relatives as required by certain statutory waiver provisions. This guidance becomes effective December 5, 2016.

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Technical Update - Military Accessions Vital to National Interest Program and Time of Filing for Naturalization

This technical update clarifies that, in general, Department of Defense (DOD) Military Accessions Vital to National Interest (MAVNI) enlistees may file an application for naturalization during basic training in the U.S. armed forces.

POLICY ALERT - Department of Defense Military Accessions Vital to National Interest Program

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance to provide information about the existing Department of Defense (DOD) Military Accessions Vital to National Interest (MAVNI) Program.

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POLICY ALERT - Effective Date of Lawful Permanent Residence for Purposes of Citizenship and Naturalization

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance regarding the date of legal permanent residence (LPR) for naturalization and citizenship purposes. 

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POLICY ALERT - Removing Obsolete Form I-643 from Filing Requirements for Certain Adjustment Applications

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is updating policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to remove obsolete Form I-643, Health and Human Services Statistical Data for Refugee/Asylee Adjusting Status, from the filing requirements for applications for adjustment of status under section 209 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

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POLICY ALERT - Adjustment of Status Policies and Procedures and 245(a) Adjustment

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance addressing the general policies and procedures of adjustment of status as well as adjustment under section 245(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

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POLICY ALERT - Media Representatives (I) Nonimmigrant Visa Classification

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance regarding the foreign information media representative nonimmigrant visa classification, commonly known as the “I” visa category.

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POLICY ALERT - Modifications to Oath of Allegiance for Naturalization

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance to clarify the eligibility requirements for modifications to the Oath of Renunciation and Allegiance for naturalization.

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Technical Update - Child Citizenship Act and Children of U.S. Government Employees Residing Abroad

This technical update clarifies that the child of a U.S. government employee temporarily stationed abroad is considered to be residing in the United States for purposes of acquisition of citizenship under INA 320.

Technical Update - Multiple Absences and Residence and Physical Presence

This technical update clarifies that along with reviewing for absences of more than 6 months, officers review whether an applicant for naturalization with multiple absences of less than 6 months is able establish the required residence and physical presence for naturalization.

POLICY ALERT - Effect of Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) on Immigration and Acquisition of Citizenship Under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA)

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance relating to the use of Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART).

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Technical Update - Religious Missionaries Abroad and Residence and Physical Presence

This technical update clarifies who may be considered to be a missionary of a religious group for purposes of preserving residence and physical presence for naturalization while working abroad.

Technical Update - Treating Certain Peace Corps Contractors as U.S. Government Employees

This technical update clarifies that Peace Corps personal service contractors are considered U.S. Government employees under certain circumstances for purposes of preserving their residence for naturalization while working abroad.

POLICY ALERT - Nonimmigrant Trainees (H-3)

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance on the trainees (H-3) nonimmigrant visa category.  

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POLICY ALERT - Customer Service

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance on its standards in customer service.

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Technical Update - Validity of Same-Sex Marriages

This technical update addresses the Supreme Court ruling holding that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional.

POLICY ALERT - Changes to Dates of Birth and Names on Certificates of Citizenship

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance relating to changes of dates of birth and names per court orders.

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POLICY ALERT - Validity Period of the Medical Certification on the Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record (Form I-693)

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing an update to policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual addressing the validity period of civil surgeon endorsements on the Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record, Form I-693.

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Technical Update - Civil Surgeon Applications and Evidentiary Requirements

This technical update clarifies that an applicant for civil surgeon designation must, at a minimum, submit a copy of the medical degree to show he or she is a Medical Doctor or Doctor of Osteopathy.

POLICY ALERT - Fraud and Willful Misrepresentation Grounds of Inadmissibility

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing guidance on the fraud and willful misrepresentation grounds of inadmissibility under INA 212(a)(6)(C)(i) and the corresponding waiver under INA 212(i).

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Technical Update - Vaccination Requirements for Pregnant or Immuno-Compromised Applicants

This technical update replaces the list of vaccines contraindicated for pregnant or immuno-compromised applicants with a reference to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)'s Vaccination Technical Instructions. This ensures the Policy Manual guidance includes the most up-to-date information.

POLICY ALERT - Refugee and Asylee-Based Adjustment of Status under Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) Section 209

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to address adjustment of status applications filed by refugees and asylees under INA sections 209(a) and 209(b).

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POLICY ALERT - Health-Related Grounds of Inadmissibility and Waivers

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual on the health-related grounds of inadmissibility under INA 212(a)(1) and corresponding waivers under INA 212(g).

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POLICY ALERT - Civil Surgeon Designation and Centralization of the Designation Process at the National Benefits Center

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to centralize the civil surgeon designation process at the National Benefits Center, effective March 11, 2014.

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Technical Update - Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands

This technical update adds the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands to list of certain territories of the United States where, subject to certain requirements, persons may be U.S. citizens at birth.

Technical Update - Certified Court Dispositions

This technical update adds language addressing existing policy on circumstances where an applicant is required to provide a certified court disposition.

POLICY ALERT - Security-Related Positions Abroad

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to address amendments to section 1059(e) of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2006 by Public Law 112-227.

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POLICY ALERT - Comprehensive Citizenship and Naturalization Policy Guidance

USCIS is issuing updated and comprehensive citizenship and naturalization policy guidance in the new USCIS Policy Manual.

Read More

Table of Contents

  • Part G - Notice to Appear
  • Part C - Visitors for Business or Tourism (B)
  • Part I - Temporary Agricultural and Nonagricultural Workers (H-2)
    • Chapter 1 - Purpose and Background
    • Chapter 2 - Eligibility for Temporary Agricultural Worker (H-2A) Classification [Reserved]
    • Chapter 3 - Documentation and Evidence for Temporary Agricultural Worker (H-2A) Classification [Reserved]
    • Chapter 4 - Adjudication of Temporary Agricultural Worker (H-2A) Petitions [Reserved]
    • Chapter 5 - Post-Adjudication Issues related to Temporary Agricultural Worker (H-2A) Petitions [Reserved]
    • Chapter 6 - Temporary Agricultural Worker (H-2A) Petitions Requiring Special Handling [Reserved]
    • Chapter 7 - Eligibility for Temporary Nonagricultural Worker (H-2B) Classification [Reserved]
    • Chapter 8 - Documentation and Evidence for Temporary Nonagricultural Worker (H-2B) Classification [Reserved]
    • Chapter 9 - Adjudication of Temporary Nonagricultural Worker (H-2B) Petitions [Reserved]
    • Chapter 10 - Post-Adjudication Issues related to Temporary Nonagricultural Worker (H-2B) Petitions [Reserved]
    • Chapter 11 - Temporary Nonagricultural Worker (H-2B) Petitions Requiring Special Handling
  • Part A - Protection and Parole Policies and Procedures
  • Part H - Reserved
  • Part R - Abandonment of Lawful Permanent Residence
  • Part A - Admissibility Policies and Procedures
  • Part D - Criminal and Related Grounds of Inadmissibility
  • Part E - Terrorism
  • Part H - Labor Certification and Select Immigrant Qualifications
  • Part L - Documentation Requirements
  • Part M - Citizenship Ineligibility
  • Part N - Noncitizens Previously Removed
  • Part Q - Practicing Polygamists, International Child Abductors, Unlawful Voters, and Tax Evaders
  • Part C - Family Unity, Humanitarian Purposes, or Public or National Interest
  • Part E - Criminal and Related Grounds of Inadmissibility
  • Part G - Unlawful Presence
  • Part H - Provisional Unlawful Presence
  • Part I - Immigrant Membership in Totalitarian Party
  • Part J - Alien Smuggling
  • Part K - Noncitizens Subject to Civil Penalty
  • Part L - Refugees and Asylees
  • Part M - Temporary Protected Status Applicants
  • Part N - Special Immigrant Juvenile Adjustment Applicants
  • Part P - Crime Victims
  • Part Q - Violence Against Women Act Applicants
  • Part R - Other Waivers and Provisions Overcoming Inadmissibility

Volume 1 - General Policies and Procedures

Part A - Public Services

In May 2020, USCIS retired its Adjudicator’s Field Manual (AFM), a collection of our immigration policies and procedures.

In May 2020, USCIS retired its Adjudicator’s Field Manual (AFM), a collection of our immigration policies and procedures. We are working quickly to update and incorporate all of the AFM content into the USCIS Policy Manual, the agency’s centralized online repository for immigration policies. Until then, we have moved any remaining AFM content to its corresponding Policy Manual Part. To the extent that a provision in the Policy Manual conflicts with remaining AFM content or Policy Memoranda, the updated information in the Policy Manual prevails. If you have questions or concerns about any discrepancies among these resources, contact PolicyFeedback@uscis.dhs.gov.

AFM Chapter 10 - An Overview of the Adjudication Process (External) (PDF, 2.43 MB)

Chapter 1 - Purpose and Background

A. Purpose

USCIS is the government agency that administers lawful immigration to the United States. USCIS has nearly 20,000 government employees and contractors working at more than 200 offices around the world. USCIS ensures its employees have the knowledge and tools needed to administer the lawful immigration system with professionalism. USCIS provides accessible, reliable, and accurate guidance and information about its public services.

This part provides guidance on USCIS public services, privacy, online tools, and other general administration topics.

B. Background

On March 1, 2003, USCIS assumed responsibility for the immigration service functions of the federal government. The Homeland Security Act of 2002 dismantled the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) and separated the agency into three components within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).[1]

The Homeland Security Act created USCIS to enhance the security and efficiency of national immigration services by focusing exclusively on the administration of benefit applications. The law also formed Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to oversee immigration enforcement and border security.

USCIS benefits from a legacy of more than 100 years of federal immigration and naturalization administration.[2] The Agency History page on USCIS’ website provides information about the agency’s history, presents research from the History Office’s historians, and makes selected historical documents available electronically.

C. Mission Statement

USCIS upholds America’s promise as a nation of welcome and possibility with fairness, integrity, and respect for all we serve.[3]

D. Legal Authorities

  • Homeland Security Act of 2002, Pub. L. 107–296 (PDF)[4] – Dismantled the INS and created USCIS to enhance the security and efficiency of national immigration services by focusing exclusively on the administration of benefit applications

  • Privacy Act of 1974, 5 U.S.C. 552a (PDF), as amended[5] – Establishes a code of fair information practices that governs the collection, maintenance, use, and dissemination of information about persons that is maintained in systems of records by federal agencies

  • Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Pub. L. 93-112 (PDF)[6] – Ensuring persons with a disability are not excluded from participation in or subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance or under any program or activity conducted by any federal agency

Footnotes


[^ 1] See Homeland Security Act of 2002, Pub. L. 107–296 (PDF), 116 Stat. 2135 (November 25, 2002).

[^ 2] See the Organizational Timeline page on USCIS’ website.

[^ 3] See the About Us page on USCIS’ website.

[^ 4] See Pub. L. 107–296 (PDF), 116 Stat. 2135 (November 25, 2002).

[^ 5] See Pub. L. 93-579 (PDF), 88 Stat. 1896 (December 31, 1974).

[^ 6] See Section 504 of Pub. L. 93-112 (PDF), 87 Stat. 355, 394 (September 26, 1973).

Chapter 2 - Web-Based Information

A. Website

The USCIS website (uscis.gov) provides the public with access to current information about USCIS’ work, as well as current news releases, alerts, and other updates.

The USCIS website provides the following:

  • Timely and accurate information on immigration and citizenship services and benefits offered by USCIS;

  • Easy access to forms, form instructions, agency guidance, and other information required to successfully submit applications and petitions;

  • The latest news and policy updates, including progress in support of Executive Orders;

  • Information on outreach events and efforts; and

  • Information on ways to contact USCIS.[1]

USCIS designed the website to accommodate easy navigation to highly trafficked pages directly from the home page, as well as a logical structure and search capability for easy access to all other pages.

In addition to uscis.gov, USCIS also hosts the following sub-sites:

  • myUSCIS – Allows stakeholders to explore immigration options, create an online USCIS account, locate a physician to complete medical exams, practice the civics test, and complete other tasks online

  • Citizenship Resource Center – Hosts information and resources designed to assist prospective citizens

  • USCIS Policy Manual – The agency’s centralized online repository for USCIS’ immigration policies[2]

  • InfoPass – System used by USCIS Contact Center for scheduling in-person services at domestic field offices on behalf of benefit requestors and other interested parties.

USCIS makes every effort to provide complete and accurate information on its website. USCIS does its best to update information and correct errors brought to its attention as soon as possible. Both the English language and Spanish language pages are updated at the same time, as appropriate.

B. Social Media

Social media is an informal means of communication that also connects benefit requestors and other interested parties with core information and services on the USCIS website. In this way, social media complements the USCIS website and increases USCIS’ ability to communicate with the public.

USCIS’ social media presence includes:

  • Twitter (Main and for E-Verify) – for concise information and news, usually accompanied by links back to uscis.gov

  • Facebook – for information and news, usually accompanied by links back to uscis.gov

  • YouTube – for videos

  • Instagram – for photos and informational graphics

The USCIS Office of Public Affairs (OPA) manages all USCIS social media accounts, working with various USCIS leadership and other offices to develop content. USCIS’ posts are visible to anyone with internet access.

USCIS generally uses social media to make information and services widely available to the general public, to promote transparency and accountability, and to help those seeking information or services from USCIS. USCIS posts information only after it has been appropriately approved and vetted by OPA. Only USCIS employees acting in their official capacity are authorized to post to USCIS social media sites.

Comments on USCIS’ social media channels are visible to the public. To protect their privacy, commenters should not include full names, phone numbers, email addresses, Social Security numbers, case numbers, or any other private information in comments.

USCIS does not moderate user comments on its channels before posting, but reserves the right to remove any materials that pose a security risk or otherwise violate the USCIS social media policy. Any opinions expressed in comments, except as specifically noted, are those of the individual commenters and do not reflect any agency policy, endorsement, or action. USCIS does not collect or retain comments in its records.

Use of each social media site is governed by that site’s privacy policy.[3]

Footnotes


[^ 1] See the Contact Us page on USCIS’ website.

[^ 2] The USCIS Policy Manual will ultimately replace the Adjudicator’s Field Manual (AFM), the USCIS Immigration Policy Memoranda site, and other policy repositories.

[^ 3] See the USCIS website for information on Social Media Policy.

Chapter 3 - Forms of Assistance

A. In-Person

1. Local Field Office

Persons with case-specific inquiries who have tried using the online tools and have not been able to attain the information they are looking for may call the USCIS Contact Center at 1-800-375-5283 (TTY: 1-800-767-1833). In-person appointments at Field Offices are reserved for critical services that require a person’s physical presence in the office to resolve the issue.

2. Community Outreach

USCIS engages in community outreach programs to educate and increase public awareness, increase dialogue and visibility, and solicit feedback on USCIS operations. During outreach events in local communities, USCIS employees do not respond to case-specific inquiries. Anyone asking case-specific questions at outreach events should be directed to submit their inquiry through appropriate channels.

The topics of community outreach programs are varied. Information on past and future outreach events can be found on the USCIS website. The website provides a list of future engagements and instructions on how to register to attend. Many events also have call-in numbers for those unable to attend in person. The website also contains notes and supporting documents from previous engagements.

B. Online

1. USCIS Online Account

USCIS online accounts allow applicants, petitioners, and representatives to access personalized, real-time information related to their individual case 24 hours a day through any internet-connected device. Persons can also communicate directly with the USCIS Contact Center through the secure messaging function to receive email responses to their case-specific inquiries. This is the easiest and most comprehensive way to communicate with USCIS regarding case-specific issues.

2. Online Messages

Benefit requestors can send messages and inquiries directly to the USCIS Contact Center, without an online account, and receive an email or phone response within 24 to 48 hours. Since these messages are outside of USCIS’ secure online account experience, Contact Center staff are limited from sharing case-specific information to ensure the privacy of benefit requestors. The USCIS online account is the preferred method of contacting the agency for easy, timely, and effective responses to case-specific inquiries.

3. Emma and Live Web Chat

Emma is the USCIS Virtual Assistant. Emma can provide immediate responses to non-case-specific questions about immigration services and benefits, guide users through our comprehensive website, and connect benefit requestors and other interested parties to a live agent through web chat for more in-depth topics and questions.

4. Email

USCIS offices may provide designated email boxes for case-specific inquiries about a pending or adjudicated petition or application. Before submitting an inquiry, the person inquiring should review all available information listed on the USCIS Contact US web page to ensure that the inquiry is properly routed. 

USCIS officers should use caution when responding to email inquiries requesting case-specific information, as issues of privacy and identity may arise.[1]

C. Telephone

1. USCIS Contact Center

For the convenience of benefit requestors and other interested parties located within the United States, USCIS provides a toll-free phone number answered by the USCIS Contact Center available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Automated information accessed through a menu of interactive options is always available. For information on when live help through a USCIS representative is available, see the USCIS Contact Center web page.

The toll-free phone number for the USCIS Contact Center is 1-800-375-5283 (TTY for the deaf, hard of hearing, or person with a speech disability: 1-800-767-1833).

Multi-Tiered Structure

The USCIS Contact Center provides escalating levels of service to handle inquiries of increasing complexity, primarily through an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system and a multi-tiered level of live assistance.

IVR – Callers initially have the opportunity to have their questions answered directly by the IVR system. If additional assistance is needed, callers may request live assistance by selecting that option from within the IVR.

Tier 1 – Tier 1 is the first level of live assistance. Tier 1 staff members, who are contract employees, provide basic case-specific and general non-case-specific information. These responses follow a formatted script.

Tier 2 – If Tier 1 is unable to completely resolve an inquiry, the call may be transferred to the Tier 2 level of live assistance to be answered by a USCIS officer.

Callers may, at any time, request to have a call directed to a supervisor.

If an inquiry involves a case physically located at a domestic USCIS field office or service center, the USCIS Contact Center may create a service request. The service request is automatically routed to the USCIS office that can best resolve the inquiry. If an inquiry involves a case physically located at an international USCIS field office, the USCIS Contact Center may provide the caller with that office’s contact information and refer the inquiry, as appropriate.

2. International Service

Persons located outside of the United States should contact the international office with jurisdiction over their place of residence. USCIS provides a complete listing of international jurisdictions and field offices and their phone numbers on the International Immigration Offices page of the USCIS website.

3. Military Help Line

USCIS provides a toll-free military help line exclusively for members of the military and their families. For information on when USCIS military help line staff are available to answer calls, see the Military Help Line web page. After-hours callers will receive an email address they can use to contact USCIS for assistance.

The toll-free phone number for the military help line is 1-877-CIS-4MIL (1-877-247-4645) (TTY: for the deaf, hard of hearing, or person with a speech disability: 1-800-767-1833).

4. Premium Processing Line

USCIS provides a toll-free phone number exclusively for inquiries about petitions filed under the Premium Processing program.[2] The toll-free phone number for the Premium Processing Line is 1-866-315-5718.

5. Intercountry Adoptions Line

USCIS provides a toll-free phone number exclusively for inquiries about domestically filed applications and petitions under the Orphan and Hague intercountry adoption programs.[3] The toll-free phone number for the Intercountry Adoptions Line is 1-877-424-8374.

D. Traditional Mail or Facsimile

1. Traditional Mail

General mailing addresses are publicly available to allow the submission of applications and petitions, responses to requests for evidence, or service requests in a hard copy format.[4] Dedicated mailing addresses are available, as appropriate, to aid specific USCIS processes.

Mailing addresses are available at the Find a USCIS Office page on the USCIS website.

2. Facsimile (Fax)

USCIS does not provide general delivery facsimile (fax) numbers. While USCIS does not publish dedicated fax numbers, USCIS offices have the discretion to provide a fax number when appropriate. For example, an officer may provide a fax number for the purpose of submitting documentation electronically to aid in the efficient resolution of a case or as a method to expedite delivery of requested documents or information. Documents should not be submitted by fax unless specifically requested by a USCIS employee.

Footnotes


[^ 1] See Chapter 7, Privacy and Confidentiality [1 USCIS-PM A.7].

[^ 2] See the USCIS website for more information on Premium Processing Service. See Request for Premium Processing Service (Form I-907).

[^ 3] See the USCIS website for additional adoption-related contact information and more details about Orphan or Hague Process.

[^ 4] A service request is a tool that allows stakeholders to place an inquiry with USCIS for certain applications, petitions, and services. Service requests may also be submitted through the USCIS Contact Center or online. See Chapter 4, Service Request Management Tool [1 USCIS-PM A.4].

Chapter 4 - Service Request Management Tool

A. Generating Service Requests

1. USCIS-Generated

The Service Request Management Tool (SRMT) provides USCIS staff the ability to record and transfer unresolved service requests by benefit requestors and other interested parties to the appropriate USCIS service center, domestic USCIS field office, or USCIS asylum office where the application or petition is pending a decision or was adjudicated.

If an inquiry received through a call to the USCIS Contact Center cannot be resolved during the call, and the inquiry warrants creation of a service request, USCIS Contact Center staff will create a service request. Although the majority of service requests are created by staff at the USCIS Contact Center, officers in other locations may also create service requests. Using the SRMT to create a service request allows the person inquiring to receive a response without having to call the USCIS Contact Center again or return to a USCIS office in most instances.

2. Self-Generated

By using an online portal, a person may create a service request in the following categories:

  • Change of address (COA) request (unless filing as a Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), T nonimmigrant, or U nonimmigrant applicant or petitioner);[1]
  • Request regarding a notice, card, or other document that was not received;
  • Request regarding a case outside normal processing time;
  • Request for accommodations;[2] or
  • Request for correction of a typographic error.

Benefit requestors may also submit a service request by mailing in a hard copy to a domestic USCIS field office.[3]

B. Responding to Service Requests

1. Timely Response

The USCIS office receiving a service request should take the necessary steps to communicate directly with the benefit requestor about the inquiry or timely relocate the inquiry to another office or organization when appropriate.

USCIS categorizes a service request based upon the urgency and request type, and assigns a target completion date based on the category. USCIS completes requests within each category on a first-in, first-out basis. In general, the goal for resolution of service requests is 15 calendar days from the date of creation.

2. Prioritized Requests

The following requests receive processing priority and should be responded to within 7 calendar days from the date of creation:

Change of Address

USCIS must process change of address (COA) requests at the earliest opportunity to reduce the potential for undeliverable mail and associated concerns. The address recorded on all open associated application or petition receipts must be updated unless instructed otherwise by the person. Address changes are only limited to select identified receipts when the person explicitly requests the COA request be restricted.

When the address listed for the applicant in any request is different from the address listed in USCIS information systems, it is considered to be an address change request, regardless of whether the request was specifically for a COA or for another reason. The address in the request is then used to change address records on all directly related receipts.

However, no COA request is inferred if the service request was initiated by a representative and the address listed in the request is the representative’s address. Also, in these situations, a copy of the response should be mailed to the petitioner or applicant at his or her address of record.

USCIS does not accept COA requests on a VAWA, T nonimmigrant, or U nonimmigrant-related application or petition that are received through an SRMT. A hard-copy, signed COA request submitted through traditional mail is required. Offices should respond to VAWA, T nonimmigrant, and U nonimmigrant COA requests using the standard language.[4]

Expedite Requests[5]

Expedite service requests are self-identified as urgent. The person requesting expedited service may be required to submit evidence to the office processing their case to support the expedite request.

Reasonable Accommodation[6]

Reasonable accommodation service requests must be responded to in accordance with the disability accommodations policy.

Military Referral

Military referrals have implied urgency based upon the uncertainty of reassignments and deployments.

Footnotes


[^ 1] For information on COA in VAWA, T, U, see Chapter 7, Privacy and Confidentiality, Section E, VAWA, T, and U Cases [1 USCIS-PM A.7(E)].

[^ 2] See Chapter 6, Disability Accommodation Requests [1 USCIS-PM A.6].

[^ 3] See Chapter 3, Forms of Assistance, Section D, Traditional Mail or Facsimile [1 USCIS-PM A.3(D)].

[^ 4] See Section E, VAWA, T, and U Cases, Subsection 3, USCIS Assistance [1 USCIS-PM A.7(E)(3)].

[^ 5] Expedite requests are distinct from premium processing. For information on expedite requests and premium processing, see Chapter 5, Expedite Requests [1 USCIS-PM A.5].

[^ 6] See Chapter 6, Disability Accommodation Requests [1 USCIS-PM A.6].

Chapter 5 - Expedite Requests

Immigration benefit requestors or their authorized representative may request that USCIS expedite the adjudication of their application, petition, request, appeal, or motion that is under USCIS jurisdiction.[1] USCIS considers all expedite requests on a case-by-case basis in the exercise of discretion and generally requires documentation to support such requests. The decision to expedite is within the sole discretion of USCIS.

As expediting an application, petition, request, appeal, or motion generally means that USCIS would adjudicate the requestor's benefit ahead of others who filed earlier, USCIS carefully weighs the urgency and merit of each expedite request.

A. Expedite Criteria or Circumstances

USCIS may expedite adjudication of an application, petition, request, appeal, or motion at its discretion. USCIS considers the totality of the circumstances and evidence submitted in support of an expedite request.

Relevant criteria or circumstances that may be considered in determining whether to grant an expedite request include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Severe financial loss to a company or person, provided that the need for urgent action is not the result of the petitioner’s or applicant’s failure to timely file the benefit request or to timely respond to any requests for evidence.[2]
  • Emergencies or urgent humanitarian situations.
  • Nonprofit organization (as designated by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)) whose request is in furtherance of the cultural or social interests of the United States.
  • Government interests, including cases identified by the government as urgent because they involve the public interest, public safety, national interest, or national security interests.
  • Clear USCIS error.

1. Severe Financial Loss as a Basis for Expedited Treatment

A company can demonstrate that it would suffer a severe financial loss if it is at risk of failing, losing a critical contract, or required to lay off other employees. For example, a medical office may suffer severe financial loss if a gap in a doctor’s employment authorization would require the medical practice to lay off its medical assistants.

Job loss may be sufficient to establish severe financial loss for a person, depending on the individual circumstances. For example, the inability to travel for work that would result in job loss might warrant expedited treatment. The need to obtain employment authorization, standing alone, without evidence of other compelling factors, does not warrant expedited treatment.

In addition, severe financial loss may also be established where failure to expedite would result in a loss of critical public benefits or services.

2. Expedited Treatment Based on Emergency or Urgent Humanitarian Situations

In the context of an expedite request, an emergency or urgent humanitarian situation is a pressing or critical circumstance related to human welfare. Human welfare means issues related to the well-being of a person or group. Examples include, but are not limited to, illness, disability, death of a family member or close friend, or extreme living conditions, such as those caused by natural catastrophes or armed conflict.

USCIS considers requests related to a requestor’s individual welfare and requests that are related to the welfare of others. For example, to facilitate the well-being of an individual, USCIS may expedite a benefit request where a vulnerable person’s safety may be otherwise compromised. To facilitate the well-being of others, for example, USCIS may expedite employment authorization for healthcare workers during a pandemic.

Certain benefit requests, such as asylum applications, refugee applications, and requests for humanitarian parole, by their nature involve urgent humanitarian situations. Therefore, filing a humanitarian-based benefit, standing alone, without evidence of other time-sensitive or compelling factors, generally may not warrant expedited treatment under this criterion.[3]

Travel-Related Requests

USCIS considers expedited processing of an Application for Travel Document (Form I-131) when there is a pressing or critical need for an applicant to travel outside the United States.

Expedited processing of a travel document may be warranted when there is an unexpected event, such as the pressing or critical need to travel outside the United States to obtain medical treatment in a limited amount of time, or due to the death or grave illness of a family member or close friend.

Expedited processing of a travel document may also be warranted when there is a pressing or critical need to travel outside the United States for a planned event, but processing times prevent USCIS from issuing the travel document by the planned date of departure. When the need to expedite issuance of a travel document is related to a planned event, USCIS considers whether the applicant timely filed the Form I-131 or timely responded to a request for evidence.[4]

For example, a requestor may have applied for a travel document 5 months ago when they learned of the event, but their case remains pending, and they must travel for an event which is now in 45 days, such as for a:

  • Work or professional commitment (such as a meeting, conference, forum, seminar, or training);
  • Academic commitment (such as a study abroad program, research trip, forum, seminar, conference, or practicum); or
  • Personal commitment (such as a wedding or graduation).

The examples of travel-related emergencies provided above are not exhaustive. Officers should review travel-related expedite requests on a case-by-case basis to determine if the need to travel is pressing or critical.

A benefit requestor’s desire to travel solely for vacation generally does not meet the definition of a pressing or critical need to travel.

3. Nonprofit Organization Seeking Expedited Treatment

A nonprofit organization seeking to expedite a beneficiary’s benefit request must demonstrate an urgent need to expedite the case based on the beneficiary’s specific role within the nonprofit in furthering cultural or social interests (as opposed to the organization’s role in furthering social or cultural interests). Examples may include a medical professional urgently needed for medical research related to a specific “social” U.S. interest (such as the COVID-19 pandemic or other socially impactful research or project) or a university professor urgently needed to participate in a specific and imminent cultural program. Another example is a religious organization that urgently needs a beneficiary’s specific services and skill set to continue a vital social outreach program. In such instances, the religious organization must articulate why the respective beneficiary is specifically needed, as opposed to pointing to a general shortage alone.

4. Expedited Treatment Based on Government Interests

Government interests refer to interests of any federal, state, tribal, territorial, or local government of the United States.[5] This includes cases identified as urgent by the government because they involve public interest, public safety, national interest, or national security interests. The request must be made by a person who has authority to represent the agency or department, such as an official, manager, supervisor, or tribal leader, on the matter for which expedited treatment is being requested. The request must demonstrate that the interests are pressing and substantive.

Where a federal agency or department identifies an articulable federal government interest in accordance with these criteria, USCIS generally defers to that federal agency or department’s assessment.

If the request relates to employment authorization, the request must demonstrate that the need for the applicant to be authorized to work is critical to the mission of the requesting agency or department, and goes beyond a general need to retain a particular worker or person. For example, an applicant for employment authorization may warrant expedited processing based on government interests when the applicant is a victim or witness who is cooperating with the government and needs employment authorization because the respective agency is seeking back pay or reinstatement in court proceedings.

5. Clear USCIS Error

USCIS may consider an expedite request based on clear USCIS error when a requestor establishes an urgent need to correct the error. For example, an applicant who receives an Employment Authorization Document with incorrect information that prevents them from being able to work may request a replacement document on an expedited basis if USCIS caused the error.[6]

B. How to Request Expedited Processing

The process to request expedited processing may vary by form type and the office that has jurisdiction over the benefit request. USCIS provides specific information on submitting expedite requests on the Expedite Requests webpage.

Benefit requestors must demonstrate their need for expedited processing. Generally, USCIS requires documentation to support expedite requests. When additional documentation is needed, USCIS asks the requestor to submit supporting evidence.

1. Premium Processing

A benefit requestor cannot request expedited processing for petitions and applications where premium processing service is available for their filing category unless they meet the exception for certain nonprofit organizations.

A benefit requestor that is designated as a nonprofit organization by the IRS seeking a beneficiary whose services are needed in furtherance of the cultural or social interests of the United States may request that the benefit it seeks be expedited without a fee, even if premium processing is available for that benefit.[7] USCIS retains discretion not to expedite the benefit request. The benefit requestor may also request premium processing for the benefit.

C. How USCIS Processes Requests for Expedited Treatment

Using its discretion, USCIS considers expedite requests according to the criteria and circumstances described above. Not every circumstance that fits under the criteria or examples above necessarily results in expedited processing.[8]

Circumstances that Impact USCIS' Ability to Expedite

Some circumstances may prolong or inhibit USCIS’ ability to expedite certain benefit requests. Examples include, but are not limited to, when:

  • The benefit requestor must perform a certain action or submit additional documentation or evidence, such as attend a biometric services appointment, be interviewed, or complete any required immigration medical examination;[9]
  • There is a required background check that remains pending with a third-party agency;
  • An application or petition requires an on-site inspection;[10] or
  • An application or petition is dependent on the adjudication of a principal’s application or petition.

Responding to Expedite Requests

USCIS generally sends a response to expedite requests that are submitted through the Contact Center. However, to increase efficiency in processing expedite requests, USCIS generally does not provide justifications regarding expedite decisions.

Requestors in Removal Proceedings

Expedited processing of benefit requests for noncitizens with final orders of removal or noncitizens in removal proceedings is coordinated between USCIS and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).[11]

Footnotes


[^ 1] Expedite procedures may vary by form type and the office that has the benefit request. For example, there are specific processes and requirements for requests to expedite certain benefits, such as asylum applications, refugee applications, and requests for humanitarian parole, among others. For more information, see specific procedures information on the Expedite Requests webpage.

[^ 2] For more information on timely filed requests, see Part B, Submission of Benefit Requests, Chapter 6, Submitting Requests [1 USCIS-PM B.6]. For more information about failure to timely respond to Requests for Evidence and Notices of Intent to Deny, see Part E, Adjudications, Chapter 6, Evidence, Section F, Requests for Evidence and Notices of Intent to Deny [1 USCIS-PM E.6(F)].

[^ 3] Expedite procedures may vary by form type and the office that has the benefit request. For example, there are specific processes and requirements for requests to expedite certain benefits, such as asylum applications, refugee applications, and requests for humanitarian parole, among others. For more information, see specific procedures information on the Expedite Requests webpage.

[^ 4] USCIS considers a Form I-131 timely filed when the applicant files as soon as practicable after learning of the planned event. However, USCIS provides certain flexibilities if the applicant’s failure to timely file or respond to a request for evidence is because of a situation outside of the applicant’s control, such as an emergency or unforeseen circumstance. See the Immigration Relief in Emergencies or Unforeseen Circumstances webpage.

[^ 5] Examples include, but are not limited to, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, National Labor Relations Board, National Transportation Safety Board, U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Department of Labor, U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Department of State, and other DHS agencies.

[^ 6] For more information about correcting documents based on USCIS error, see the Updating or Correcting Your Documents webpage.

[^ 7] See Section A, Expedite Criteria or Circumstances, Subsection 3, Nonprofit Organization Seeking Expedited Treatment [1 USCIS-PM A.5(A)(3)].

[^ 8] See Section A, Expedite Criteria or Circumstances [1 USCIS-PM A.5(A)].

[^ 9] For more information, see Part C, Biometrics Collection and Security Checks [1 USCIS-PM C]; Part E, Adjudications [1 USCIS-PM E]; and Volume 8, Admissibility, Part B, Health-Related Grounds of Inadmissibility [8 USCIS-PM B].

[^ 10] USCIS cannot expedite certain aspects of its processing, including on-site inspections.

[^ 11] See Part E, Adjudications, Chapter 3, Jurisdiction, Section A, Coordination in Cases Involving Removal Proceedings [1 USCIS-PM E.3(A)].

Chapter 6 - Disability Accommodation Requests

A. Background

USCIS accepts requests for accommodations from benefit requestors, other interested parties, and other persons with disabilities who use USCIS services and access USCIS facilities. Accommodation requests may be made in advance for instances that include, but are not limited to:

  • An interview with an officer;
  • An oath ceremony; or
  • A USCIS-sponsored public event.

Accommodations ensure compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973,[1] which states that “[n]o otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States . . . shall, solely by reason of her or his disability, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance or under any program or activity conducted by any Executive agency.”[2] It is USCIS policy to provide equal access to its benefits, services, and activities for persons with disabilities, and to provide religious accommodations in accordance with applicable requirements.

B. Reasonable Accommodation

The essential feature of an accommodation is that it allows the person with a disability to participate in the process or activity. While USCIS is not required to make major modifications that would result in a fundamental change to the processes or cause an undue burden for the agency, USCIS makes every effort to provide accommodations to persons with disabilities. Reasonable accommodations vary, depending on the situation and the person’s disability.

Benefit requestors must satisfy all of the legal requirements to receive an immigration benefit; however, USCIS must provide reasonable accommodations to persons with disabilities to afford them the opportunity to meet those requirements.

Examples of accommodations include, but are not limited to:

  • Those unable to use their hands may be permitted to take a test orally rather than in writing;
  • Those who are deaf or hard of hearing may be provided with a sign language interpreter for a USCIS-sponsored event;[3]
  • Those unable to speak may be allowed to respond to questions in an agreed-upon nonverbal manner;[4]
  • Those unable to travel to a designated USCIS location for an interview due to a disabling condition may be interviewed at their home or a medical facility.

C. Requesting Accommodation

1. How to Make a Disability Accommodation Request

To request disability accommodation for any phase of the application process, benefit requestors, other interested parties, and other persons with disabilities who use USCIS services and access USCIS facilities, should generally submit the request online using the Disability Accommodations for Appointments tool.[5] Requestors should submit accommodation requests to USCIS as soon as they are aware of the need for an accommodation for a particular event. The more advance notice USCIS has, the more likely it will be able to make appropriate arrangements for the accommodation request.[6]

2. USCIS Points-of-Contact

To ensure accountability, each field office, application support center (ASC), or asylum office must designate at least one employee to be responsible for handling accommodation requests. All employees should be aware of the procedures for handling such requests.

If a requestor contacts the field office, ASC, or asylum office directly to request a disability accommodation for an interview, the office may enter a service request into the Service Request Management Tool (SRMT) to work with the requestor to respond to the request, and mark the request as fulfilled when it is complete so that the request and the response are recorded.

Offices are encouraged to provide reasonable accommodation requests made by walk-ins whenever practical. If the accommodation is not available, the office should inform the requestor that the office is not able to provide the accommodation at that time, but that arrangements can be made to provide the accommodation for a future appointment or event.

3. USCIS Review

USCIS evaluates each request for a reasonable accommodation on a case-by-case basis.  The Public Disability Access Coordinator must generally concur on any alternative accommodation offered or any accommodation denial before the office communicates either action to the requestor.

While a requestor is not required to include documentation of a medical condition in support of a reasonable accommodation request, an office may need documentation to evaluate the request in rare cases. In these situations, the office must consult the Public Disability Access Coordinator for guidance before the USCIS office requests medical documentation to support an accommodation request.

4. Review Timeframe

In general, the affected USCIS office determines whether it may reasonably comply with the accommodation request within 7 calendar days of receiving the request, unless unusual circumstances exist.

If an accommodation is warranted, it should be provided on the date and time of the scheduled event; rescheduling should be avoided, if possible. If an accommodation cannot be provided for the originally scheduled event, the requestor should be notified as soon as possible. Any rescheduling should occur within a reasonable period of time.

5. Reconsideration of Denied Request

To request a reconsideration of a denial of a disability accommodation request, the requestor should call the USCIS Contact Center and provide any new information they have in support of their request. Upon receiving the request, the relevant office must review the prior request and any additional information provided. The office should contact the requestor if additional information is needed.

Generally, all affirmed denials must be approved by the Public Disability Access Coordinator, the field office director, ASC manager, or asylum office director, whichever applies.

Footnotes


[^ 1] See Pub. L. 93-112 (PDF) (September 26, 1973).

[^ 2] See Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Pub. L. 93-112 (PDF), 87 Stat. 355, 394 (September 26, 1973), codified at 29 U.S.C. 794(a). See 6 CFR 15.3 for applicable definitions relating to enforcement of nondiscrimination on the basis of disability in Department of Homeland Security (DHS) federal programs or activities, which includes those conducted by USCIS. See Volume 1, General Policies and Procedures, Part A, Public Service, Chapter 9, Feedback, Complaints, Misconduct, and Discrimination, Section D, Allegations of Discrimination, Subsection 1, Anti-Discrimination Policy [1 USCIS-PM A.9(D)(1)].

[^ 3] This applies to any member of the public who wants to attend the event, such as a naturalization ceremony or an outreach engagement.

[^ 4] Offices should understand that, while the inability to speak is considered a disability under the Rehabilitation Act, the inability to speak the English language (while being able to speak a foreign language) is not considered a disability under the Act. Therefore, no accommodation is required and one should not be provided if a requestor is unable to speak English. No request for an interpreter should be approved unless the requestor is otherwise eligible. See, for example, 8 CFR 312.4.

[^ 5] For additional instructions on how to submit a disability accommodation request, see the Disability Accommodations for the Public webpage. Applicants who cannot submit their request online should call the USCIS Contact Center at 1-800-375-5283 (TTY: 1-800-767-1833).

[^ 6] For more information on service requests, see Chapter 4, Service Request Management Tool [1 USCIS-PM A.4]. For information on handling disability accommodations related to asylum cases, see Chapter 7, Privacy and Confidentiality, Section F, Asylees and Refugees, Subsection 3, USCIS Assistance [1 USCIS-PM A.7(F)(3)].

Chapter 7 - Privacy and Confidentiality

A. Privacy Act of 1974

The Privacy Act provides that federal agencies must protect against the unauthorized disclosure of personally identifiable information (PII) that it collects, disseminates, uses, or maintains.[1] The Privacy Act requires that personal information belonging to U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (LPRs) be protected from unauthorized disclosure. Violations of these requirements may result in civil and criminal penalties.

B. Fair Information Practice Principles

DHS treats all persons, regardless of immigration status, consistent with the Fair Information Practice Principles (FIPPs).[2] The FIPPs are a set of eight principles that are rooted in the tenets of the Privacy Act of 1974. The principles are:

  • Transparency;
  • Individual participation;
  • Purpose specification;
  • Data minimization;
  • Use limitation;
  • Data quality and integrity;
  • Security; and
  • Accountability and auditing.

The table below provides a description of each principle.

Fair Information Practice Principles DHS Framework for Privacy Policy
PrincipleDescription
TransparencyDHS provides transparency for how it handles sensitive information through various mechanisms, including Privacy Impact Assessments, System of Records Notices, Privacy Act Statements, and the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
Individual ParticipationTo the extent practicable, DHS should involve persons in the process of using their personal information, and they may always request information about themselves through a FOIA request.
Purpose SpecificationDHS’ default action should be to not collect information, and if it is otherwise necessary, DHS should articulate the authorities that permit collection and must clearly state the purposes of the information collection.
Data MinimizationDHS collects only information relevant and necessary to accomplish the purposes specified and special emphasis is placed on reducing the use of sensitive personal information, where practical.
Use LimitationAny sharing of information outside of the agency must be consistent with the use or purpose originally specified.
Data Quality and IntegrityDHS should, to the extent practical, ensure that PII is accurate, relevant, timely, and complete.
SecurityDHS uses appropriate security safeguards against risks such as loss, unauthorized access or use, destruction, modification or unintended or inappropriate disclosure.
Accountability and AuditingDHS has a number of accountability mechanisms, including reviews of its operations, training for employees, and investigations when appropriate.

C. Personally Identifiable Information

DHS defines PII as any information that permits the identity of a person to be directly or indirectly inferred, including any information which is linked or linkable to that person regardless of whether the person is a U.S. citizen, lawful permanent resident (LPR), visitor to the United States, or a DHS employee or contractor.[3]

Sensitive PII is defined as information which, if lost, compromised, or disclosed without authorization, could result in substantial harm, embarrassment, inconvenience, or unfairness to a person.[4] Some examples of PII that USCIS personnel may encounter include:

  • Name;
  • Address;
  • Date of birth; and
  • Certificate of Naturalization or Citizenship number.
  • Alien number (A-number);
  • Social Security number;
  • Driver’s license or state ID number;
  • Passport number; and
  • Biometric identifiers.

USCIS employees have a professional and legal responsibility to protect the PII the agency collects, disseminates, uses, or maintains. All USCIS employees must follow proper procedures when handling all PII and all information encountered in the course of their work. All USCIS employees processing PII must know and follow the policies and procedures for collecting, storing, handling, and sharing PII. Specifically, USCIS employees must:

  • Collect PII only when authorized;
  • Limit the access and use of PII;
  • Secure PII when not in use;
  • Share PII, only as authorized, with persons who have a need to know; and
  • Complete and remain current with all privacy, computer security, and special protected class training mandates.

D. Case-Specific Inquiries

USCIS receives a variety of case-specific inquiries, including requests for case status updates, accommodations at interviews, appointment rescheduling, and the resolution of other administrative issues. USCIS personnel are permitted to respond to these inquiries if:

  • The requestor is entitled to receive the requested case-specific information; and
  • Disclosure of the requested case-specific information would not violate Privacy Act requirements or other special protected class confidentiality protections.

1. Verifying Identity of Requestor

USCIS employees must verify the identity of a person inquiring about a specific application or petition. For in-person inquiries, those present must provide a government-issued identity document so that USCIS can verify their identity.

For inquiries not received in person (for example, those received through telephone call or email), it may be difficult to verify the identity of the person making the request through a government-issued document. In these cases, USCIS employees should ask for specific identifying information about the case to ensure that it is appropriate to communicate case-specific information. Examples of identifying information include, but are not limited to: receipt numbers, A-numbers, full names, dates of birth, email addresses, and physical addresses.

If a person is unable to provide identifying information that an applicant, petitioner, or representative should reasonably know, USCIS employees may refuse to respond to the request, or direct the requestor to make an appointment at a local field office or create a myUSCIS account.

2. Disclosure of Information

Except for case types with heightened privacy concerns,[5] USCIS employees may communicate about administrative case matters if the requestor is able to demonstrate his or her identity (for example, by showing government-issued identification during an in-person encounter), or provide verifying information sufficient to demonstrate that communication would be proper. Administrative case matters are generally any issues that do not involve the legal substance or merit of an application or petition.

USCIS employees should not disclose PII when responding to case-specific requests; inquiries can generally be resolved without any discussion of PII.[6] To ensure that a USCIS employee is not disclosing PII, the USCIS employee can always require that the requestor first provide and confirm any PII at issue. In addition, a USCIS employee may take action that results in the resending of cards, notices, or documents containing PII to addresses on file instead of directly disclosing PII to a requestor.

Interested parties may be present at in-person appointments or during telephone calls, with the consent of the applicant or petitioner. Consent is usually implied if both the applicant or petitioner and the third party are present together. However, a USCIS employee may always ask the applicant or petitioner if he or she consents to the third-party’s presence if there is any doubt.

3. Communication with Address on File

USCIS sends written responses and duplicate notices to the addresses on file. Before USCIS is able to send any correspondence to a different address, the person must initiate a service request to update his or her address in USCIS systems.[7] Change of address requests associated with cases subject to confidentiality provisions must follow separate procedures.[8]

4. Third-Party Information

Information from other agencies, such as Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), or the U.S. Department of State (DOS) may be located in USCIS files and systems. This information must not be released in response to an inquiry, although it may be appropriate to refer the inquiry to another agency.

5. Third-Party Government Inquiries

USCIS may share records covered under the Privacy Act with written consent from the person or pursuant to a routine use listed in the applicable System of Records Notices. Before sharing information with a government entity, USCIS must determine if the disclosure and use of information is compatible with an existing routine use. Planned uses must also be compatible with the purpose for which DHS originally collected the information. There are, however, enumerated exceptions of the Act that may apply.

Congress

One exception is for disclosures to either house of Congress, or any Congressional committee, subcommittee, joint committee, or subcommittee of a joint committee, if the matter is within its jurisdiction. For all other requests from members of Congress, such as constituent requests, the person whose information is to be released must have provided the member of Congress with a privacy release for USCIS to disclose any information related to that person.

The USCIS Office of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs (OLIA)) and designated liaisons handle all inquiries and certain correspondence from Congress to USCIS. Members of Congress, congressional offices, and congressional committees should always go through OLIA when initiating an inquiry. The USCIS and Congress webpage on USCIS’ website provides instructions on how members of Congress should interact with and contact USCIS. Non-liaison USCIS employees who are contacted directly with a congressional inquiry should refer it to OLIA so that it may proceed through the proper channels.

Law Enforcement Agencies

Information may be shared with other DHS components under the existing DHS information sharing policy,[9] which considers all DHS components one agency, as long as there is a mission need in line with the requestor’s official duties.

Requests from law enforcement agencies outside of DHS must go through DHS Single Point of Service (SPS) Request for Information (RFI) Management Tool, which requires an account. Account requests can be submitted to DHS-SPS-RFI@hq.dhs.gov.

Before referring any relevant RFI to USCIS, SPS ensures any RFI is consistent with the USCIS mission, has been reviewed and cleared by DHS Counsel and Privacy (as required), and is provided a tracking number. SPS then submits the RFI to Fraud Detection and National Security (FDNS) Intelligence Division (ID). FDNS ID logs official RFIs and takes the necessary steps to process and answer them, including review by USCIS Office of the Chief Counsel and Office of Privacy.

Federal Investigators

If an Office of Personnel Management or DHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) investigator requests information, the USCIS employee should provide the information upon verifying the requestor’s identity. Disclosure of any information needs to meet a routine use or be covered by a data share agreement. USCIS employees and contractors must provide prompt access for auditors, inspectors, investigators, and other personnel authorized by the OIG to any files, records, reports, or other information that may be requested either orally or in writing, and supervisors may not impede this cooperation.

Other Third-Party Inquiries

Prior to responding to a non-congressional third-party case inquiry, a written, signed, and notarized privacy release must be obtained from the applicant or petitioner. Third parties should submit a written authorization and identify the information the person desires to be disclosed. USCIS staff can accept the authorization via facsimile or email as long as the signature on the original is handwritten, and not typed or stamped.[10] The USCIS Office of Privacy will conduct an analysis for disclosure requests for PII on persons not covered by the Privacy Act or the Judicial Redress Act, absent another mechanism that confers a right or process by which a member of the public may access agency records.

E. VAWA, T, and U Cases

1. Confidentiality Provisions

Persons eligible for and recipients of victim-based immigration relief (specifically, Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) self-petitioners[11] as well as applicants and petitioners for, and recipients of, T and U nonimmigrant status (protected person[12])) are entitled to protections under 8 U.S.C. 1367. USCIS also extends the provisions of 8 U.S.C. 1367 to abused spouses of certain persons applying for employment authorization under INA 106.[13] The governing statute generally prohibits the unauthorized disclosure of information about petitioners and applicants for, and beneficiaries of VAWA, T, and U-related benefit requests to anyone other than an officer or employee of DHS, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), or DOS for a legitimate agency purpose.[14]

This confidentiality provision is commonly referred to as “Section 384” because it originally became law under Section 384 of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA) of 1996,[15] which protects the confidentiality of victims of domestic violence, trafficking, and other crimes who have filed for or have been granted immigration relief.

An unauthorized disclosure of information which relates to a protected person can have significant consequences. USCIS employees must maintain confidentiality in these cases. Victims of domestic violence, victims of trafficking, and victims of crimes can be put at risk, as can their family members, if information is provided to a person who is not authorized.

Anyone who willfully uses, publishes, or permits any information pertaining to such victims to be disclosed in violation of the above-referenced confidentiality provisions may face disciplinary action and be subject to a civil penalty of up to $5,000 for each violation.

2. Scope of Confidentiality

Duration of Confidentiality Requirement

By law, the confidentiality provisions apply while a VAWA, T, or U case is pending and after it is approved, and ends when the application or petition for immigration relief is denied and all opportunities for appeal of the denial have been exhausted.[16]

Disclosure of Information 

The statute prevents DHS from disclosing any information which relates to a person protected under 8 U.S.C. 1367 (protected person), subject to certain limited exceptions.[17] This includes information USCIS has in its records or other information about the protected person, even if those records do not specifically identify the person as one who has sought VAWA, T, or U benefits. Consequently, USCIS cannot disclose information about a protected person even if that information is not contained in a VAWA, T, or U filing.[18]

USCIS cannot release any information relating to a protected person until USCIS verifies both the identity of the requestor of information and the requestor’s authorization to receive the protected information. USCIS must verify the identity and authorization before responding to any inquiry, expedite request, referral, or other communication. After identity and authorization verification, USCIS can provide protected information directly to the protected person or the protected person’s representative authorized to receive 1367-protected information.

Representative refers to an attorney or accredited representative who has properly filed a Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Accredited Representative (Form G-28) on behalf of a protected person and who remains in good standing or is not otherwise ineligible to represent persons with matters before USCIS. 

Exceptions for Disclosure of Information 

USCIS is permitted to disclose information relating to a protected person in certain, limited circumstances. These circumstances include:

  • Statistical Information – Disclosure of data and statistical information may be made in the manner and circumstances permitted by law.[19] 
  • Legitimate Law Enforcement Purposes – Disclosure of information may be made to law enforcement officials to be used solely for a legitimate law enforcement purpose. 
  • Judicial Review – Information can be disclosed in connection with judicial review of a determination provided it is in a manner that protects the confidentiality of the information. 
  • Applicant Waives Confidentiality – Adults can voluntarily waive the confidentiality provision; if there are multiple victims in one case, they must all waive the restrictions. 
  • Public Benefits – Information may be disclosed to federal, state, and local public and private agencies providing benefits, to be used solely in making determinations of eligibility for benefits.[20]
  • Congressional Oversight Authority (for example, Government Accountability Office audits) – The Attorney General and the Secretary of Homeland Security can disclose information on closed cases to the chairmen and ranking members of Congressional Committees on the Judiciary, for the exercise of Congressional oversight authority. The disclosure must be in a manner that protects the confidentiality of the information and omits PII (including location-related information about a specific person). 
  • Communication with Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) – Government entities adjudicating applications for relief[21] and government personnel carrying out mandated duties under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA)[22] may, with the prior written consent of the person involved, communicate with nonprofit NGO victims’ service providers for the sole purpose of assisting victims in obtaining victim services. Agencies receiving referrals are bound by the confidentiality provisions. 
  • National Security Purposes – The Secretary of Homeland Security, the Secretary of State, or the Attorney General may provide in their discretion the disclosure of information to national security officials to be used solely for a national security purpose in a manner that protects the confidentiality of such information.
  • To sworn officers or employees of DOS or DOJ, for legitimate Department, bureau, or agency purposes.

Prohibited Source

USCIS employees are prohibited from making an adverse determination of admissibility, deportability, or removability on a protected person using information furnished solely by a prohibited source. The officer must not use information provided by the following prohibited sources to make an adverse determination:

  • The abuser or perpetrator of the offense;
  • Family member of the abuser; or
  • Someone acting at the request of the abuser.

If the officer can independently corroborate the information from a non-prohibited source, the officer may use the information from the non-prohibited source in the adjudication process.

USCIS employees may receive information about a protected person through an anonymous personal letter, phone call, statement, tip form submission, or other method that raises questions regarding their eligibility for immigration benefits. USCIS employees should treat the information as inherently suspect and presume that derogatory information received from an unknown source came from a prohibited source.[23]

3. USCIS Assistance

USCIS employees must ensure confidentiality is maintained when a benefit requestor protected under 8 U.S.C. 1367 requests assistance.

Change of Address

Benefit requestors with a pending or approved VAWA, T, or U-related case can request a change of address by following the instructions on the How to Change Your Address webpage.

A benefit requestor with a pending or approved VAWA, T, or U-related case may also call the USCIS Contact Center at 1-800-375-5283 (TTY: 1-800-767-1833) to request an address change. The benefit requestor’s identity must be verified before making the requested change. If the Contact Center is unable to make the change requested, they schedule an in-person appointment at a USCIS field office. If the change is made during an in-person appointment, the field office must make the change in electronic systems and notify the office with jurisdiction over the pending case of the change.

Customer Service Inquiries

Due to 8 U.S.C. 1367 protections, protected persons have specialized customer service options for their case inquiries to USCIS. As noted above, benefit requestors with pending or approved VAWA, T, or U-related cases may request customer service via the USCIS Contact Center at 1-800-375-5283 (TTY: 1-800-767-1833). USCIS must verify the identity of the person inquiring about a confidential case and verify that person’s eligibility to receive information before providing any information or other requested service. To access Contact Center services, protected persons calling about a particular form (or forms) should have their receipt notice(s) on hand for reference during the call. They should also have a copy of the pending or approved application or petition that they are calling about readily available, if possible.

For more information related to how to make customer service inquiries for protected persons who have VAWA, T, and-U related filings, see the USCIS Contact Us webpage.

4. Mailing Address Procedures for Persons Protected Under 8 U.S.C. 1367

Defining “Safe Mailing Address” and “Preferred Mailing Address” 

USCIS is committed to incorporating victim-centered approaches into agency policies, programs, and procedures related to interactions with protected persons.

A critical component of this approach is the prioritization of victim safety and autonomy. Under this framework, USCIS acknowledges that protected persons are best positioned to make decisions about where correspondence should be directed.

USCIS has policies and procedures in place so that information related to protected persons is disclosed only to authorized parties.[24] In the context of mailed correspondence, USCIS has implemented procedures to minimize the risk of unauthorized parties viewing the protected information. Many of the forms that initiate the 8 U.S.C. 1367 protections (victim-based forms) include a specific address field for a designated “safe mailing address.”[25]

Other forms may not have a designated safe mailing address field, but instead may include space to provide a mailing address that may be different from the person’s home or physical address (referred to in this guidance as the “preferred mailing address”). When a form does not have a safe mailing address field, but the protected person has listed a preferred mailing address, USCIS considers the preferred mailing address to be a safe and secure address to use for notices, correspondence, and secure identity documents for the protected person. The safe mailing address or preferred mailing address may change over time as the protected person files new benefit requests or submits a request to change their address.[26]

Adjudication of Non-Victim-Based Benefit Requests

The protections provided by 8 U.S.C. 1367 do not change which USCIS office has jurisdiction to adjudicate a benefit request that a protected person has filed.

In instances where a protected person files a non-victim-based benefit request, the USCIS office that has jurisdiction over that matter may still adjudicate the benefit request even though it contains information about a protected person. Officers are not required to involve the USCIS offices assigned to adjudicate victim-based benefit requests in the adjudication of the non-victim-based benefit request.[27]

The prohibition on adverse determinations described in 8 U.S.C. 1367(a)(1) applies to all cases where a protected person is an applicant, beneficiary, or petitioner. Therefore, even if an officer is adjudicating a non-victim-based application or petition (such as a Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker (Form I-129), Petition for Alien Relative (Form I-130), Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker (Form I-140), or Application for Naturalization (Form N-400)), officers cannot make adverse determinations of admissibility, deportability, or removability based solely on information provided by a prohibited source. Officers can use information if that information can be located in, and sourced to, an independent, non-prohibited source.[28]

Sending Notices to the Designated Safe Mailing Address or Preferred Mailing Address 

The designated safe mailing address or preferred mailing address may be the protected person’s home address, their attorney or accredited representative’s address, their preparer’s address, or any other address listed on a form under the safe mailing address field or mailing address field.[29] If a protected person designates a safe mailing address or provides a preferred mailing address in an applicable field, USCIS sends original notices (including the notice containing the Arrival/Departure Record (Form I-94)), correspondence, and secure identity documents to that address, unless the person is represented and has a properly filed Form G-28 on record that requests USCIS send original notices, the Form I-94, and secure identity documents to the attorney or accredited representative.[30] In such a case, USCIS only sends courtesy copies of notices to the protected person at their designated safe or preferred mailing address.

Sending Notices to Protected Persons on Subsequent, Concurrent, or Previous Filings 

Officers must review each form individually to determine where to send notices or secure identity documents issued from an adjudication of that form. Officers should not rely on addresses contained in prior filings, including any prior Form G‑28 where representation does not extend to other forms, when sending notices related to forms filed with, or after, the 8 U.S.C. 1367 filing. This guidance applies to both the primary forms that are protected by 8 U.S.C. 1367, as well as any related or subsequent forms or requests submitted by a protected person, such as an Application for Employment Authorization (Form I-765), Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card (Form I-90), or Application for Naturalization (Form N-400).

When adjudicating benefit requests filed by or for the protected person before the 8 U.S.C. 1367 protections applied, officers should review the immigration records to determine if the person filed a request for an address change.[31] In general, officers should use the preferred mailing address listed on the individual’s benefit form under adjudication for notices, correspondence, or secure identity documents related to that form unless the person has changed their address for that specific form with USCIS or an exception to the policy applies.

There are certain exceptions to this policy, such as when the underlying basis for an Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status (Form I-485), is changed from a Form I-130 to a Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant (Form I-360), filed as a VAWA self-petition. USCIS changes the mailing address of the pending ancillary forms, such as the Form I-765 and Application for Travel Document (Form I-131) to the safe mailing address on the VAWA self-petition. USCIS changes the mailing address on the Form I-485 to the safe mailing address on the VAWA self-petition after approval of the petition.

Guide to Mailing Address Procedures for Protected Persons

The table below outlines common scenarios relevant to safe address procedures. Officers should follow the instructions below to ensure all notices and secure identity documents are sent to the correct location.

Protected Persons With a Representative
If the protected person…Then
Provided their representative’s address as the safe or preferred mailing address.USCIS sends original and courtesy copies of notices and secure identity documents to the address of the protected person’s representative.
Provided a safe or preferred mailing address, which is not their representative’s address, and selected the options on the Form G-28 for all original notices and secure identity documents to be sent to their representative.According to the preferences indicated by the protected person on the Form G-28, USCIS sends all original notices and secure identity documents to the representative listed on the Form G-28. USCIS only sends a courtesy copy of a notice to the protected person at their safe or preferred mailing address.
Provided only a physical address.

For victim-based forms, USCIS always sends all notices or secure identity documents to the address of the protected person’s representative, regardless of their selections on the Form G-28.[32]

For non-victim-based forms,[33] USCIS sends original notices or secure identity documents to the physical address listed on the Form G-28. The representative only receives a courtesy copy of any notices sent to the protected person.

Provided only a physical address and selected the option on the Form G-28 that the Form I-94 be sent to the protected person’s mailing address.

For victim-based forms, USCIS sends the Form I-94 to the address of the protected person’s representative, regardless of their selections on the Form G-28.[34]

For non-victim-based forms,[35] USCIS sends the Form I-94 to the physical address listed on the Form G-28. The representative only receives a courtesy copy of any notices sent to the protected person.

Protected Persons Without a Representative

If the protected person…

Then

Provided a safe mailing address or preferred mailing address.USCIS sends all original notices and secure identity documents to the protected person’s safe mailing address or preferred mailing address.
Provided only a physical address.USCIS sends all original notices and secure identity documents to the protected person’s physical address listed on the form.[36]

Instructions for Mailing Address Procedures for Protected Persons with Multiple Pending Forms 

If the protected person has more than one pending benefit request, in general, USCIS uses the safe mailing address or preferred mailing address that the person listed on the relevant form. USCIS may send correspondence to multiple addresses depending on the protected person’s preferences listed on the relevant form or Form G-28.

Example

A protected person lists a friend’s address as a safe mailing address on a Petition for U Nonimmigrant Status (Form I-918), but uses their physical address as a mailing address on their pending Application for Temporary Protected Status (Form I-821). In this case, USCIS considers the friend’s address as the safe or preferred mailing address for the Form I-918. However, USCIS considers the physical address as the safe or preferred mailing address for the Form I-821. If the protected person has a Form G-28 on file, USCIS sends all original notices or secure documents according to their preferences listed on Form G-28.

The protected person must change their address for each individual form they have filed with USCIS. The filing of a subsequent benefit request with a new address does not automatically update the address for the prior filing.

F. Asylees and Refugees

1. Confidentiality Provisions

Federal regulations generally prohibit the disclosure to third parties of information contained in or pertaining to asylum applications, credible fear determinations, and reasonable fear determinations.[37] This includes information contained in the legacy Refugee Asylum and Parole System (RAPS) or the legacy Asylum Pre-Screening System (APSS), and Global System (the 2018 replacement for RAPS/APSS) or related information as displayed in CIS2 and PCQS, except under certain limited circumstances. As a matter of policy, the confidentiality protections in these regulations are extended to Registration for Classification as Refugee (Form I-590), Refugee/Asylee Relative Petitions (Form I-730), and Applications for Suspension of Deportation or Special Rule Cancellation pursuant to NACARA (Form I-881).

These regulations safeguard information that, if disclosed publicly, could subject the claimant to retaliatory measures by government authorities or non-state actors in the event the claimant is repatriated. Such disclosure could also endanger the security of the claimant’s family members who may still be residing in the country of origin.

Moreover, public disclosure might give rise to a plausible protection claim by the claimant where one would not otherwise exist. This is because such disclosure may bring an otherwise ineligible claimant to the attention of the government authority or non-state actor against which the claimant has made allegations of mistreatment.

2. Breach of Confidentiality

Confidentiality is breached when the unauthorized disclosure of information contained in or pertaining to, these protected classes allows the third party to link the identity of the applicant to:

  • The fact that the applicant or petitioner has applied for asylum or refugee status;
  • Specific facts or allegations pertaining to the individual asylum or refugee claim contained in an asylum or refugee application; or
  • Facts or allegations that are sufficient to give rise to a reasonable inference that the applicant has applied for asylum or refugee status.

The same principles generally govern the disclosure of information related to credible fear and reasonable fear determinations, and applications for withholding or deferral of removal under Article 3 of the Convention Against Torture, which are encompassed within the Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal (Form I-589). As a matter of policy, USCIS extends the regulatory safeguards to include claims under the Safe Third Country Agreement, applications for suspension of deportation, special rule cancellation of removal under NACARA 203, refugee case information, as well as refugee and asylee relative information.

Disclosures may only be made to U.S. government officials or employees and U.S. federal or state courts where there is a demonstrated need-to-know related to certain administrative, law enforcement, and civil actions. Any other disclosure requires the written consent of the claimant or the express permission of the Secretary of DHS.

3. USCIS Assistance

USCIS employees must not disclose information contained in, or pertaining to, any asylum or refugee application or claim to any third party without the written consent of the applicant, except as permitted by regulation or at the discretion of the Secretary of DHS.[38] 

This includes neither confirming nor denying that a particular person filed a protection claim by submitting any of the following:

  • An Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal (Form I-589);
  • A Registration for Classification as Refugee (Form I-590);
  • A Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition (Form I-730);
  • A Request for a Safe Third Country Agreement Determination;
  • A Request for a Credible Fear Determination;
  • A Request for a Reasonable Fear Determination; and
  • An Application for Suspension of Deportation or Special Rule Cancellation of Removal (Pursuant to Section 203 of Public Law 105-100 (NACARA) (Form I-881)).

USCIS employees should respond to inquiries related to Form I-589, Form I-881, requests for information pertaining to the Safe Third Country Agreement, credible fear and reasonable fear processes, Form I-590, and Form I-730 in different ways, depending on the inquiry:

Request for Disability Accommodation at an Upcoming Form I-589 Interview

Tier 2 staff members may use the Service Request Management Tool (SRMT) to record and transfer requests to the asylum office with jurisdiction over the pending application. The asylum office then contacts the applicant to arrange for disability accommodation at the interview. While officers must not confirm or deny the existence of a pending protection claim or NACARA 203 application, those making disability accommodation requests for upcoming asylum interviews should be told that the request is being recorded and will be forwarded to the appropriate office for follow-up.

Change of Address Request

Tier 2 staff members may create a service request and submit it to the asylum office or service center with jurisdiction over the pending Form I-589, Form I-881, or Form I-730 petition. The office then fulfills the service request. While staff members must not confirm or deny the existence of a pending protection claim, those making address change requests should be told that the request is being recorded and will be forwarded to the appropriate office.

USCIS Contact Center Status Inquiries for Form I-589, Form I-881, and Form I-730

USCIS Contact Center personnel may not respond to any status inquiries, and may not confirm or deny the existence of an application or petition. Instead, USCIS Contact Center personnel should direct the caller to the Case Status Online tool. If the caller needs further assistance than the Case Status Online tool can provide, USCIS Contact Center personnel should direct the caller to the local office with jurisdiction over the application. For information on office-specific in-person appointment requirement, see the Asylum Office Locator tool. The office with jurisdiction over the application must respond to the inquiry.

USCIS Contact Center Status Inquiries for Form I-590 Applications

USCIS Contact Center personnel may not respond to any status inquiries and may not confirm or deny the existence of an application or petition. Instead, USCIS Contact Center personnel should obtain all relevant information from the inquirer and refer the inquiry to the USCIS Headquarters International and Refugee Affairs Division (IRAD) for response.

Inquiries Regarding Subsequent Applications or Petitions Based on Underlying Form I-589, Form I-590, or Form I-730

Staff members may respond to inquiries regarding subsequent applications or petitions that are based on an underlying Form I-589, Form I-590, or Form I-730 (including Application for Travel Document (Form I-131), Application for Employment Authorization (Form I-765), or Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status (Form I-485)). Staff members may not confirm or deny the existence of the underlying application.

General Inquiries

USCIS employees may respond to general questions about the asylum program, the U.S. Refugee Admission Program (USRAP), and credible and reasonable fear screenings.[39] However, for all specific case status questions relating to I-589 applications or I-730 petitions, the inquirers must be directed to contact the local asylum office or service center with jurisdiction over the application. For specific case status questions relating to I-590 refugee applications, the inquiry must be referred to RAD for response.

Asylum offices may accept case inquiries from the applicant or the applicant’s attorney or representative with a properly completed Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Accredited Representative (Form G-28) on file.

Asylum offices may receive case inquiries in a variety of ways, such as by mail, email, phone, fax, or in person. When it is possible to verify the identity of the applicant or attorney or representative inquiring, offices may respond using any of those communication channels. If it is not possible to verify the identity of the inquirer, asylum offices should respond to inquiries by providing a written response to the last address the applicant provided.

RAD does not respond to inquiries over the phone, but instead asks the inquirer to put his or her request in writing so that the signature and return address can be compared to information on file. RAD responds to an inquiry received by email only if the email address matches the information the applicant submitted to the Resettlement Support Center or if the principal applicant provides written consent that includes the principal applicant’s signature.

G. Temporary Protected Status

1. Confidentiality Provisions

Like refugee and asylum cases, information pertaining to Temporary Protected Status (TPS) cases may not be disclosed to certain third parties because unauthorized disclosure of information may place the applicant or the applicant’s family at risk.[40]

The law prohibits the release of information contained in the TPS application or in supporting documentation to third parties without the written consent of the applicant. A third party is defined as anyone other than:

  • The TPS applicant;
  • The TPS applicant’s attorney or authorized representative (with a properly completed Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Accredited Representative (Form G-28) on file);
  • A DOJ officer, which has also been extended to include a DHS officer following the transfer of certain immigration functions from DOJ to DHS; or
  • Any federal or state law enforcement agency.

2. USCIS Assistance

USCIS may not release any information contained in any TPS application and supporting documents in any form to any third party, without a court order or the written consent of the applicant.[41] Status inquiries may not confirm or deny the existence of a TPS application, or whether a person has TPS, until the identity of the inquirer has been confirmed and it has been determined the inquirer is not a third party to whom information may not be released.

USCIS employees must adhere to these same TPS confidentiality provisions regarding the disclosure of information to third parties, even if the information is contained in a TPS-related form such as:

  • The Application for Employment Authorization (Form I-765), which every TPS applicant must file;
  • A TPS-related waiver requested on Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility (Form I-601); or
  • A TPS-related Application for Travel Document (Form I-131).

With respect to confidentiality, USCIS employees must treat these records as they do other TPS supporting documentation in the TPS application package.

USCIS employees may respond to general questions about the TPS program.[42] However, for all case-specific questions relating to Form I-821 applications, USCIS employees must first confirm the identity of the person and his or her eligibility to receive such information.

Offices must not take or respond to inquiries about the status of a TPS application made by telephone, fax, or email because it is not possible to sufficiently verify the identity of the inquirer. Offices may accept written status requests signed by the applicant (or the applicant’s attorney or representative with a properly completed Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Accredited Representative (Form G-28) on file).

3. Exceptions for Disclosure

Information about TPS applications and information contained in supporting documentation can be disclosed to third parties in two instances:

  • When it is mandated by a court order; or
  • With the written consent of the applicant.

Information about TPS cases can be disclosed to officers of DOJ, DHS, or any federal or state law enforcement agency since they are not considered third parties.[43] Information disclosed under the requirements of the TPS confidentiality regulation may be used for immigration enforcement or in any criminal proceeding.

H. Legalization

1. Confidentiality Provisions

Statutory and regulatory provisions require confidentiality in legalization cases and Legal Immigration Family Equity (LIFE) Act legalization cases, prohibiting the publishing of any information that may be identified with a legalization applicant.[44] The laws also do not permit anyone other than sworn officers and employees of DHS and DOJ to examine individual applications.

Information contained in the legalization application can only be used in the following circumstances:

  • To make a determination on the legalization application;
  • For criminal prosecution of false statements violations;[45] or
  • In preparation of certain reports to Congress.

A breach in confidentiality of legalization cases can result in a $10,000 fine.[46]

2. USCIS Assistance

Case-specific information may be provided to the applicant and the applicant’s attorney or authorized representative (with a properly completed Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Accredited Representative (Form G-28) on file) after the inquirer’s identity has been verified. No others are authorized to receive legalization information unless one of the enumerated exceptions to disclosure noted below applies.

3. Exceptions for Disclosure

USCIS is permitted to disclose information pertaining to legalization cases in certain, limited circumstances. These circumstances include:

Law Enforcement Purposes

USCIS is required to disclose information to a law enforcement entity in connection with a criminal investigation or prosecution, when that information is requested in writing.

Requested by an Official Coroner

USCIS is also required to disclose information to an official coroner for purposes of affirmatively identifying a deceased person (whether or not the person died as a result of a crime).

Statistical Information

Disclosure of data and statistical information may be made in the manner and circumstances permitted by law.[47]

Available from Another Source

USCIS may disclose information furnished by an applicant in the legalization application, or any other information derived from the application, provided that it is available from another source (for example, another application or if the information is publicly available).

I. Special Agricultural Workers

1. Confidentiality Provisions

Material in A-files filed pursuant to the Special Agricultural Workers (SAW) program is protected by strict confidentiality provisions.[48] The statute provides that the employee who knowingly uses, publishes, or permits information to be examined in violation of the confidentiality provisions may be fined not more than $10,000.[49]

In general, USCIS may not use information furnished by the SAW applicant for any purpose other than to make a determination on the application, for termination of temporary residence, or for enforcement actions relating to false statements in applications.[50] The applicant may not waive the confidentiality provisions, which even survive the death of the applicant.

2. USCIS Assistance

In general, it is permissible for USCIS employees to disclose only that an applicant has applied for SAW and the outcome of the adjudication. Case information may be provided to the applicant and the applicant’s attorney or authorized representative (with a properly completed Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Accredited Representative (Form G-28) on file) after the inquirer’s identity has been verified. No other parties are authorized to receive SAW information, unless one of the enumerated exceptions to disclosure noted below applies.

3. Exceptions for Disclosure

It is appropriate for DHS and DOJ employees to have access to SAW material. The materials are subject to the above-mentioned penalties for unlawful use, publication, or release. USCIS is permitted to disclose information pertaining to SAW cases in certain, limited circumstances. These circumstances include:

Law Enforcement Purposes

USCIS is required to disclose information to a law enforcement entity in connection with a criminal investigation or prosecution, when that information is requested in writing.

Requested by an Official Coroner

USCIS is also required to disclose information to an official coroner for purposes of affirmatively identifying a deceased person (whether or not the person died as a result of a crime).

Criminal Convictions

Information concerning whether the SAW applicant has at any time been convicted of a crime may be used or released for immigration enforcement or law enforcement purposes.

J. S Nonimmigrant Visa Category

Nonimmigrants under the S visa category are noncitizen[51] witnesses or informants. An S nonimmigrant is not readily identified in USCIS systems. However, if a USCIS employee discovers that an inquiry is from an S nonimmigrant or from someone who has applied for such status, the case must be handled carefully.

Inquiries regarding the following should come from a law enforcement entity:[52]

  • An Interagency Alien Witness and Informant Record (Form I-854A);
  • An Interagency Alien Witness and Informant Adjustment of Status (Form I-854B); and
  • An Application for Employment Authorization (Form I-765) filed on the basis of being a principal nonimmigrant witness or informant in S classification.

If USCIS receives an inquiry regarding the status of a Form I-854 or a Form I-765 filed as an S nonimmigrant, the USCIS employee must neither confirm nor deny the existence of such applications and should inform the person that inquiries on these applications must be submitted through appropriate law enforcement channels. 

Under no circumstances may USCIS employees ask questions about the S nonimmigrant’s role in cooperating with law enforcement, the type of criminal activity for which the nonimmigrant is an informant or witness, or any specific information about the case in which the S nonimmigrant may be involved.

K. Witness Security Program

1. Program Participants

Participation in the Witness Security Program (commonly known as the Witness Protection Program) is not reflected in USCIS systems. Applicants in the Witness Security Program should not tell anyone, including USCIS employees, that they are participants in the program. A separate immigration file is created for a new identity of a participant in the program, and information from before and after the change in identity must be in separate files. However, one file will have documentation of a legal name change.

2. USCIS Assistance

If an applicant indicates that he or she is in the Witness Security Program, the applicant should be referred to the U.S. Marshals Service.[53] Also, under no circumstances should USCIS employees ask questions about why or how the applicant was placed in the Witness Security Program or any specific information about the case which resulted in the applicant being placed in the Witness Security Program.

Footnotes


[^ 1] See Privacy Act of 1974, Pub. L. 93-579 (PDF), 88 Stat. 1896 (December 31, 1974) (codified at 5 U.S.C. 552a).

[^ 2] See DHS Privacy Policy Guidance Memorandum (PDF), issued April 25, 2017.

[^ 3] See Privacy Incident Handling Guidance (PDF), DHS Instruction Guide 047-01-008, issued December 4, 2017.

[^ 4] See Privacy Incident Handling Guidance (PDF), DHS Instruction Guide 047-01-008, issued December 4, 2017.

[^ 5]The enhanced privacy protections and other confidentiality protections associated with certain applications and petitions mean that merely acknowledging the existence of a pending petition or application could violate statutory and regulatory requirements. As a result, when responding to inquiries about these types of cases, including Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), T, U, and asylum cases, USCIS employees should follow the policies in place for those specific benefits. For more information, see Section E, VAWA, T, and U Cases [1 USCIS-PM A.7(E)] through Section K, Witness Security Program [1 USCIS-PM A.7(K)].

[^ 6] A case’s status generally refers to its current posture in the adjudication process, which is dictated by the last action taken. For example, a case could be pending background checks, with an officer, awaiting response to a Request for Evidence, or with a decision issued on a given date.

[^ 7] See USCIS Change of Address web portal. See Chapter 4, Service Request Management Tool, Section B, Responding to Service Requests [1 USCIS-PM A.4(B)].

[^ 8] See Section E, VAWA, T, and U Cases, Subsection 3, USCIS Assistance [1 USCIS-PM A.7(E)(3)].

[^ 9] See The DHS Policy for Internal Information Exchange and Sharing.

[^ 10] For requests from federal, state, or local government agency representatives who want to review or want copies of documents from an A-file, USCIS employees should refer to USCIS records procedures regarding outside agency requests for USCIS files.

[^ 11] See Violence Against Women and Department of Justice Reauthorization Act of 2005, Pub. L. 109-162 (PDF) (January 5, 2006). When VAWA was reauthorized in 2005, Congress added the definition “VAWA self-petitioner” at INA 101(a)(51), which includes persons requesting relief as: a VAWA self-petitioner under INA 204(a); an abused conditional permanent resident spouse or child filing a waiver based on battery or extreme cruelty under INA 216(c)(4)(C) or INA 216(c)(4)(D); an abused spouse or child under the Cuban Adjustment Act, Pub. L. 89-732 (PDF) (November 2, 1966); an abused spouse or child under the Haitian Refugee Immigrant Fairness Act, Division A, Section 902 of Pub. L. 105-277 (PDF), 112 Stat. 2681, 2681-538 (October 21, 1998); and an abused spouse or child under the Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act, Title II of Pub. L. 105-100 (PDF), 111 Stat. 2160, 2193 (November 19, 1997). Applicants for special rule cancellation of removal under INA 240A(b)(2) are also protected under 8 U.S.C. 1367.

[^ 12] See Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000, Pub. L. 106-386 (PDF) (October 28, 2000). T nonimmigrant status is available for victims of a severe form of human trafficking and U nonimmigrant status is designated for victims of qualifying criminal activities.

[^ 13] See Eligibility for Employment Authorization for Battered Spouses of Certain Nonimmigrants (PDF, 98.03 KB), PM-602-0130, issued March 8, 2016. Abused spouses of certain nonimmigrants may apply for employment authorization by filing an Application for Employment Authorization for Abused Nonimmigrant Spouse (Form I-765V).

[^ 14] See 8 U.S.C. 1367(a)(2).

[^ 15] See Pub. L. 104-208 (PDF), 110 Stat. 3009-546, 3009-652 (September 30, 1996).

[^ 16] See 8 U.S.C. 1367(a)(2) and 8 U.S.C. 1367(b).

[^ 17] See 8 U.S.C. 1367(a)(2) and 8 U.S.C. 1367(b).

[^ 18] See Implementation of Section 1367 Information Provisions (PDF), DHS Instruction 002-02-001, Revision 00.1, issued November 7, 2013.

[^ 19] See 13 U.S.C. 8.

[^ 20] See 8 U.S.C. 1641(c).

[^ 21] This applies to application for relief under 8 U.S.C. 1367(a)(2).

[^ 22] See INA 101(i)(1).

[^ 23] See Implementation of Section 1367 Information Provisions (PDF), DHS Instruction 002-02-001, Revision 00.1, issued November 7, 2013 for more information.

[^ 24] The term “authorized parties” includes employees of DHS, DOS, and DOJ for legitimate agency purposes. It also includes an attorney or accredited representative who has properly filed a Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Accredited Representative (Form G-28) on behalf of a protected person and who remains in good standing or is not otherwise ineligible to represent persons with matters before USCIS, as well as the protected person themselves.

[^ 25] See Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant (Form I-360). See Petition for U Nonimmigrant Status (Form I-918). See Application for T Nonimmigrant Status (Form I-914). See Application for Employment Authorization for Abused Nonimmigrant Spouse (Form I-765V).

[^ 26] For information on how to register an address change with USCIS, see the How to Change Your Address webpage.

[^ 27] However, officers may only disclose information from the previously-filed victim-based form in compliance with the confidentiality provisions of 8 U.S.C. 1367(a)(2).

[^ 28] See Implementation of Section 1367 Information Provisions (PDF), DHS Instruction 002-02-001, Revision 00.1, issued November 7, 2013 for more information.

[^ 29] Attorneys or accredited representatives can change their mailing address with USCIS by either submitting a new Form G-28 for every pending case (with the receipt number) or submitting a letter on office stationery that clearly states: “ATTORNEY CHANGE OF ADDRESS.” The letter must include a list of pending cases with the form type, receipt number, A-number, and the benefit requestor’s name listed for each case. A change of address for the attorney or accredited representative also changes the benefit requestor’s safe address if the attorney or accredited representative’s address is listed as the safe mailing address or preferred mailing address on the form. See the Filing Your Form G-28 webpage for additional information.

[^ 30] Prior editions of the Form G-28 may not include an option for sending certain notices or secure identity documents to an attorney or accredited representative. Officers should review the Form G-28 associated with the underlying form to determine which options were checked, if any.

[^ 31] As described above, 8 U.S.C. 1367(a)(2) protections apply when a person files a VAWA, T, or U benefit request.

[^ 32] This exception is in recognition of long-standing safe address procedures in place at the service centers with jurisdiction over adjudication of victim-based-forms. As described above, victim-based-forms are the forms that initiate 1367-protections, including the Form I-360, Form I-918, Petition for Qualifying Family Member of a U-1 Nonimmigrant (Form I-929), Form I-914, Form I-765V, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence (Form I-751), and Form I-485.

[^ 33] This includes forms that may be commonly used by a person filing a VAWA, T, or U benefit requests, including but not limited to Notice of Appeal or Motion (Form I-290B), Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status (Form I-539), Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility (Form I-601), or Form I-765.

[^ 34] This exception is in recognition of long-standing safe address procedures in place at the service centers with jurisdiction over adjudication of victim-based-forms. As described above, victim-based-forms are the forms that initiate 1367-protections, including the Form I-360, Form I-918, Form I-929, Form I-914, Form I-765VForm I-751, and Form I-485.

[^ 35] This includes forms that may be commonly used by a person filing a VAWA, T, or U benefit requests, including but not limited to Form I-290B, Form I-539, Form I-601, or Form I-765.

[^ 36] Certain form instructions state that if a petitioner or applicant does not provide a safe mailing address, then USCIS may use the address of the preparer of the form. USCIS recognizes that preparers who are not the attorney or accredited representative listed on a Form G-28 may be only engaged in the case for a temporary period of time. In consideration of this factor, and USCIS’ acknowledgment that protected persons are best positioned to make decisions about where their correspondence should be directed, USCIS sends notices and secure identity documents to the physical address listed on a form, should an unrepresented petitioner or applicant decide not to complete the safe mailing address or mailing address field on a form. Certain forms may require the completion of the mailing address field. Applicants and petitioners should review form instructions to determine when this field may be required.

[^ 37] See 8 CFR 208.6.

[^ 38] See 8 CFR 208.6.

[^ 39] Examples of general inquiries include: who can apply for asylum or refugee status, how to apply for asylum or access the USRAP, bars to protection, whether applicants are eligible for work authorization, and number of days it normally takes before an interview is scheduled. 

[^ 40] See INA 244(c)(6). See 8 CFR 244.16

[^ 41] See 8 CFR 244.16 for exceptions.

[^ 42] Examples of general inquiries include: Who can apply for TPS, how to apply for TPS, bars to TPS, whether applicants are eligible for work authorization, and the number of days it normally takes to adjudicate an application for TPS. 

[^ 43] See 8 CFR 244.16.

[^ 44] See INA 245A(c)(4)-(5). See 8 CFR 245a.2(t), 8 CFR 245a.3(n), and 8 CFR 245a.21.

[^ 45] See INA 245A(c)(6).

[^ 46] See INA 245A(c)(5)(E).

[^ 47] See 13 U.S.C. 8.

[^ 48] See INA 210. This pertains to the 1987-1988 SAW program.

[^ 49] See INA 210(b)(6)(D).

[^ 50] See INA 210(b)(7).

[^ 51] In this Policy Manual, the term noncitizen, unless otherwise specified, means a person who is not a citizen or national of the United States. This term is synonymous with “alien” as defined in INA 101(a)(3).

[^ 52] See 8 CFR 274a.12(c)(21).

[^ 53] Officers can find information on how to contact their local U.S. Marshals Service office (if they are in the United States) on the U.S. Marshals Service website. Officers should advise applicants to consult with the U.S. Marshals Service on how to handle the disclosure of their participation in the Witness Protection Program.

Chapter 8 - Conduct in USCIS Facilities

USCIS provides services to a diverse set of benefit requestors. In all interactions, USCIS is committed to providing consistent public service in accordance with its mission statement and core values.[1] USCIS always strives for the highest level of integrity and respect in all interactions with the public to ensure all parties are treated with dignity and courtesy. USCIS employees play a critical role in upholding these standards. USCIS employees should approach interactions in a manner that is consistent with USCIS policy and its core values.

A. Privacy in USCIS Offices

When communicating about personal or case specific information, both USCIS employees and the public should note the importance of protecting privacy.[2] Whenever possible, both USCIS employees and the public should take common sense steps to make communications as private as possible. For example, USCIS employees should:

  • Avoid projecting so that others in the room can clearly hear conversations that involve personal information; and
  • For in-person encounters about case-specific inquiries, ensure that inquirers are given sufficient space so that documents presented are not on display for others to see.

USCIS must strike a balance between quickly and accurately assisting large groups of benefit requestors on the one hand, and protecting the privacy of all persons on the other. USCIS employees and benefit requestors must work together to strike this balance as best as possible. Persons contacting USCIS regarding a matter with heightened privacy considerations should work with USCIS employees to ensure that their privacy is protected.

B. Electronic Devices

Visitors must abide by applicable policies established by the facility in which they are seeking services. Depending on the facility’s policies, visitors may be permitted to possess cell phones, personal digital assistants, tablets, laptops, and other electronic devices.

No one may photograph or record at a USCIS office except when observing naturalization or citizenship ceremonies. In addition, phones should be silenced while in the waiting area and any conversations should be kept to a low level so as not to disrupt others. Phones should be turned off during interviews or while being served by USCIS staff at the information counter.

To ensure successful implementation of this guidance, USCIS field offices are encouraged to:

  • Ensure all USCIS federal and contract employees are aware of the cell phone usage policies;
  • Ensure all visitors are informed of the cell phone usage policies; and
  • Display posters and signage regarding this guidance in common areas.

Footnote


[^ 1] See the About Us USCIS webpage.

[^ 2] See Chapter 7, Privacy and Confidentiality [1 USCIS-PM A.7].

Chapter 9 - Feedback, Complaints, Misconduct, and Discrimination

A. Feedback

1. USCIS Contact Center

USCIS conducts telephone interviews every month with callers who have used the USCIS Contact Center within the past 90 days. USCIS may contract with a private company to execute this task. The interviews that are conducted represent a statistically valid sample.

2. In-Person Appointments

Field offices may provide feedback forms in their waiting rooms. If such forms are provided, field offices should also provide a place within the office to deposit the feedback forms.

3. USCIS Website

In February 2010, USCIS implemented the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) Survey on the USCIS website. This recognized instrument is a voluntary, randomized, pop-up, online survey offered to USCIS website users. By participating in this survey, USCIS became part of the E-Government Satisfaction Index and joined more than one hundred other government organizations and agencies that have already implemented this survey and are receiving feedback.

USCIS reviews the results of the survey on a quarterly basis and identifies opportunities to improve the USCIS website. Survey data also informs USCIS where resources might best be used to affect overall satisfaction.

USCIS also reviews a wide assortment of research papers and other products available from the survey administrator to help USCIS in data gathering, analysis, and site improvement activities.

B. Complaints[1]

1. Ways of Submitting Complaints

Complaint in USCIS Office

Persons can make a complaint in a USCIS office by asking to speak to a supervisor. In these situations, a supervisor must be made available within a reasonable amount of time. The supervisor should take the complainant’s name and information about the nature of the complaint. The supervisor should attempt to resolve the issue before the complainant leaves the office.

Submit Written Complaint

Written complaints may include handwritten letters, emails, or faxes.[2]

Contact Office of Inspector General Directly[3]

Contact information for DHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) can be found on both the USCIS website and on the DHS website. OIG contact information must also be displayed in a public area and visible in every USCIS field office.

File Complaint with USCIS Headquarters

USCIS Headquarters (HQ) contact information is provided on USCIS’ website. If the complaint is directed to the wrong directorate or program office, the complaint must be forwarded to the appropriate HQ entity.

Ask to Speak to Contact Center Supervisor

If a caller is dissatisfied with the service he or she received during a call to the USCIS Contact Center, the caller may ask to speak to a supervisor.[4] Both Tier 1 and Tier 2 staff members must transfer the call to a supervisor.

2. Complaints Received

A person should not be expected to know where to first submit a complaint or how to elevate a complaint if they think that their issue has not been adequately addressed. Under no circumstances should a person’s complaint be dismissed or disregarded because the proper process for filing a complaint was not followed. All complaints received must be handled appropriately.

All complaints should be responded to by providing a written response, telephone call, or if applicable, addressing the complaint in person upon submission. The response should explain steps taken to resolve the issue. In cases where the complaint cannot be resolved in a reasonable time, the response should acknowledge the receipt of the complaint, when a resolution is expected, and any additional action the person may take.

Applicants with complaints about being victimized by a person engaged in the unauthorized practice of immigration law (UPIL) should be directed to USCIS’ website where they can find state-by-state reporting information, as well as information on how to report UPIL to the Federal Trade Commission.

C. Allegations of Misconduct

USCIS employees are also subject to mandatory reporting requirements for known or suspected misconduct by federal employees and contractors.

1. Employee Misconduct

Allegations of misconduct by USCIS employees and contractors may include, but are not limited to:

  • Fraud, corruption, bribery, and embezzlement;
  • Sexual advances or sexual misconduct;
  • Theft or misuse of funds and theft of government property;
  • Perjury;
  • Physical assault;[5]
  • Unauthorized release of classified or special protected class[6] information;
  • Drug use or possession;
  • Unauthorized use or misuse of sensitive official government databases;
  • Misuse of official position for private gain;
  • Misuse of a government vehicle or property;
  • Failure to properly account for government fund;
  • Unauthorized use or misuse of a government purchase or travel card;
  • Falsification of travel documents; and
  • Falsification of employment application documents.

2. Reporting Employee Misconduct

Benefit requestors and other interested parties should report allegations of misconduct by USCIS employees promptly to a USCIS supervisor, USCIS Office of Investigations (OI), or DHS OIG.[7] Individuals may report allegations of misconduct involving discriminatory conduct to DHS Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL).[8]

USCIS OI makes every effort to maintain the confidentiality of informational sources to protect the integrity of the investigation. However, for investigations in which an allegation is substantiated and disciplinary action is proposed, the subject of such investigation is entitled to review documentation and evidence relied upon as the basis for the proposed action.

OI refers matters to DHS OIG for review and investigative determination as required, depending on the nature of the allegations included in the report. If the allegation either does not meet the criteria for referral to DHS OIG or is not accepted by DHS OIG for investigation, OI may resolve the matter by conducting an investigation; referring the matter for an official management inquiry, if appropriate; or referring the matter to the appropriate USCIS manager for information and action deemed appropriate.

As a matter of procedure, OI does not provide a complainant, victim, witness, or subject of a complaint with the investigative determination of a complaint, since a disclosure of this nature could adversely impact the investigative process or agency resolution of the alleged behavior.

D. Allegations of Discrimination

1. Anti-Discrimination Policy

USCIS does not tolerate discriminatory treatment of any persons. USCIS considers discrimination to include the unlawful treatment of a person or group of persons based on classes or other categories to which they belong or are perceived to belong. It also includes retaliation against a person who reports or complains about discrimination, or who participates in the investigation of a discrimination complaint. It is USCIS policy to treat the public in a non-discriminatory manner regardless of whether they belong to a class or group specifically protected under federal anti-discrimination laws or other legal authorities.

USCIS policy on anti-discrimination is not limited to specific classes or groups. This policy prohibits discrimination by any USCIS employee[9] towards any benefit requestor,[10] other USCIS employee, or anyone else with whom USCIS employees interact by virtue of their work for USCIS. Such behavior violates USCIS’ core values.[11]

In addition to training employees on the administration of immigration benefits, USCIS provides agency-wide training on USCIS’ anti-discrimination policy to all employees who interact directly or indirectly with members of the public.

2. Reporting Discrimination

Benefit requestors and other interested parties should report allegations of discrimination, including those based on race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability, promptly to a USCIS supervisor or to DHS CRCL; allegations may also be reported to USCIS OI or DHS OIG.[12] Individuals may report allegations of discrimination involving physical assault (such as grabbing, fondling, hitting, or shoving) to OI or DHS OIG.[13] USCIS employees also have a duty to report allegations of misconduct by federal employees and contractors promptly to a USCIS supervisor, USCIS OI, or DHS OIG.[14]

3. Retaliation

USCIS does not tolerate retaliation against any person for reporting discrimination. This includes filing a complaint, helping any other person file a complaint, or participating in an inquiry into potential violations of this policy. Any employee found to have engaged in retaliatory conduct or behavior is subject to disciplinary action.

E. Reporting Fraud, Abuse, and Scams

Benefit requestors and other interested parties should report fraud, abuse, and scams as indicated on the USCIS Contact Us page.

In addition, immigration fraud can be reported to:

The USCIS website also contains information on common scams and how to avoid scams.

Footnotes


[^ 1] This section specifically addresses complaints that do not involve egregious or criminal misconduct. For information on the Office of Security and Integrity’s policy on reporting criminal and egregious misconduct, see Section C, Allegations of Misconduct [1 USCIS-PM A.9(C)].

[^ 2] See Appendix: Dissatisfaction with USCIS: Terms and Definitions for information on where to send complaints.

[^ 3] See Appendix: Dissatisfaction with USCIS: Terms and Definitions for information on how to contact the OIG.

[^ 4] See Chapter 3, Forms of Assistance, Section C, Telephone [1 USCIS-PM A.3(C)].

[^ 5] Physical assault may include grabbing, fondling, hitting, or shoving.

[^ 6] See Chapter 7, Privacy and Confidentiality [1 USCIS-PM A.7].

[^ 7] Members of the public may file allegations of misconduct by following the instructions provided on the Report USCIS Employee Misconduct webpage. USCIS employees are also subject to mandatory reporting requirements for known or suspected misconduct by federal employees and contractors. In addition, see the DHS Office of Inspector General webpage.

[^ 8] See Section D, Allegations of Discrimination [1 USCIS-PM A.9(D)].

[^ 9] For the purposes of this anti-discrimination policy, USCIS considers the term “USCIS employee” to include both persons employed directly by the federal government and government contractors.

[^ 10] In accordance with DHS policy, USCIS may use race or ethnicity only when a compelling governmental interest is present, and only in a way narrowly tailored to meet that compelling interest. This policy further permits consideration of nationality when it is expressly relevant to the administration or enforcement of a statute, regulation, or Executive Order, or for individualized discretionary use of nationality as a screening, investigation, or enforcement factor. See DHS Memorandum, The Department of Homeland Security’s Commitment to Nondiscriminatory Law Enforcement and Screening Activities (PDF), issued April 26, 2013.

[^ 11] See Chapter 8, Conduct in USCIS Facilities [1 USCIS-PM A.8]. See the About Us USCIS webpage.

[^ 12] See the DHS Make a Civil Rights Complaint webpage. The DHS Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties webpage also contains detailed information about avenues for filing complaints with different offices and components of DHS.

[^ 13] See Section C, Allegations of Misconduct [1 USCIS-PM A.9(C)].

[^ 14] See Section C, Allegations of Misconduct [1 USCIS-PM A.9(C)].

Part B - Submission of Benefit Requests

In May 2020, USCIS retired its Adjudicator’s Field Manual (AFM), a collection of our immigration policies and procedures.

In May 2020, USCIS retired its Adjudicator’s Field Manual (AFM), a collection of our immigration policies and procedures. We are working quickly to update and incorporate all of the AFM content into the USCIS Policy Manual, the agency’s centralized online repository for immigration policies. Until then, we have moved any remaining AFM content to its corresponding Policy Manual Part. To the extent that a provision in the Policy Manual conflicts with remaining AFM content or Policy Memoranda, the updated information in the Policy Manual prevails. If you have questions or concerns about any discrepancies among these resources, contact PolicyFeedback@uscis.dhs.gov.

AFM Chapter 10 - An Overview of the Adjudication Process (External) (PDF, 2.43 MB)

Chapter 1 - Purpose and Background

A. Purpose

Those seeking immigration benefits in the United States must generally request benefits by filing the appropriate USCIS form(s) with USCIS.[1] Proper submission of benefit requests provides USCIS the opportunity to determine whether a person is initially eligible for the benefit requested and facilitates an efficient management of requests.[2]

B. Background

With the Immigration Act of 1891, the federal government assumed direct control of inspecting, admitting, rejecting, and processing all immigrants seeking admission to the United States.[3] On January 2, 1892, the Immigration Service opened Ellis Island in New York Harbor. The Immigration Service began collecting arrival manifests from each incoming ship. Inspectors then questioned arrivals about their admissibility and noted their admission or rejection on the manifest records.[4]

Over the years, different federal government departments and offices have adjudicated immigration benefit requests. The process of submitting benefit requests has also changed over time. Today, requestors generally seek benefits from USCIS by submitting specific forms; the forms also help guide requestors in collecting and submitting necessary evidence. USCIS uses forms to establish the record, verify identity, and adjudicate the benefit request.

USCIS is primarily funded by immigration and naturalization benefit request fees charged to requestors.[5] Fees collected from individuals and entities filing immigration benefit requests are deposited into the Immigration Examinations Fee Account (IEFA). The fees collected are to ensure recovery of the full cost of providing all USCIS services, including those provided without charge to refugee, asylum, and certain other filers.

Form Types

USCIS adjudicates immigration benefit requests in and outside the United States. The table below provides a list of the major benefits USCIS provides, the corresponding form(s), and corresponding Policy Manual guidance for more information.[6]

Common USCIS-Issued Immigration Benefits
Benefit SoughtRelevant Form(s)For More Information
Nonimmigrant statusPetition for a Nonimmigrant Worker (Form I-129)Volume 2, Nonimmigrants [2 USCIS-PM]
Petition for Alien Fiancé(e) (Form I-129F)
Petition for U Nonimmigrant Status (Form I-918)
Petition for Qualifying Family Member of a U-1 Nonimmigrant (Form I-929)
Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status (Form I-539)
Immigrant statusPetition for Alien Relative (Form I-130)Volume 6, Immigrants [6 USCIS-PM]
Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker (Form I-140)
Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant (Form I-360)
Immigrant Petition by Alien Investor (Form I-526)Volume 6, Immigrants, Part G, Investors [6 USCIS-PM G]
Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status (Form I-485)Volume 7, Adjustment of Status [7 USCIS-PM]
Refugee or asylee statusApplication for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal (Form I-589)Volume 4, Refugees [4 USCIS-PM]
Volume 5, Asylees [5 USCIS-PM]
Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition (Form I-730)
Temporary Protected StatusApplication for Temporary Protected Status (Form I-821)Volume 3, Protection and Parole [3 USCIS-PM]
Employment authorizationApplication for Employment Authorization (Form I-765)Volume 10, Employment Authorization [10 USCIS-PM]
Travel authorization (including reentry permit, humanitarian parole, and advance parole document)Application for Travel Document (Form I-131)Volume 11, Travel and Identity Documents [11 USCIS-PM]
CitizenshipApplication for Naturalization (Form N-400)Volume 12, Citizenship and Naturalization [12 USCIS-PM]
Application for Certificate of Citizenship (Form N-600)Volume 12, Citizenship and Naturalization, Part H, Children of U.S. Citizens [12 USCIS-PM H]
Application for Citizenship and Issuance of Certificate Under Section 322 (Form N-600K)
Overcoming InadmissibilityApplication for Permission to Reapply for Admission into the U.S. After Deportation or Removal (Form I-212)Volume 9, Waivers and Other Forms of Relief [9 USCIS-PM]
Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility (Form I-601)
Application by Refugee for Waiver of Grounds of Excludability (Form I-602)
Application for Advance Permission to Enter as a Nonimmigrant (Form I-192)
Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility (Form I-690)

Each USCIS form has accompanying instructions that explain how to complete the form, as well as the necessary supporting evidence and fees that must be submitted with the completed form.[7] In addition, some forms may require the submission of biometric information and an additional fee for biometric processing.[8]

C. Legal Authorities

  • INA 103 - Powers and duties of the Secretary, Under Secretary, and Attorney General
  • 8 CFR 103.2 - Submission and adjudication of benefit requests 
  • 8 CFR 103.7 - Fees
  • 8 CFR 106 - USCIS fee schedule, including fee requirements, fees, waivers and exemptions, and premium processing service

Footnotes


[^ 1] See 8 CFR 103.2(a)(1).

[^ 2] The terms “benefit request” and “immigration benefit request,” as used in this Part, include, but are not limited to, all requests funded by the Immigration Examinations Fee Account (IEFA). These terms may also refer to forms or requests not directly resulting in an immigration benefit, such as those resulting in an exercise of prosecutorial discretion by DHS.

[^ 3] See Pub. L. 55-551 (March 3, 1891).

[^ 4] See the USCIS History and Genealogy website for additional information. See Overview of Legacy Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) History (PDF, 284.73 KB).

[^ 5] See INA 286(m)

[^ 6] See the USCIS All Forms webpage for a complete list of all USCIS forms and form instructions.

[^ 7] See 8 CFR 103.2. For a list of all forms and form instructions, see the USCIS Forms page.

[^ 8] See 8 CFR 103.2(a)(1).

Chapter 2 - Signatures

A. Signature Requirement

USCIS requires a valid signature on applications, petitions, requests, and certain other documents filed with USCIS.[1] Except as otherwise specifically authorized, a benefit requestor must personally sign his or her own request before filing it with USCIS.[2]

In order to maintain the integrity of the immigration benefit system and validate the identity of benefit requestors, USCIS rejects any benefit request with an improper signature and returns it to the requestor.[3] USCIS does not provide an opportunity to correct (or cure) a deficient signature. The benefit requestor, however, may resubmit the benefit request with a valid signature. As long as all other filing requirements are met, including payment of the required fee, USCIS may accept the resubmitted benefit request.

If USCIS accepts a request for adjudication and later determines that it has a deficient signature, USCIS denies the request. If USCIS needs additional information to confirm that a person[4] is authorized to sign on behalf of another person, corporation, or other legal entity, USCIS may issue either a Request for Evidence (RFE) or a Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID) to confirm that such signature authority existed at the time the document was submitted.

If USCIS issues a denial based on a deficient signature or unauthorized power of attorney (POA), the benefit requestor retains any motion and appeal rights associated with the applicable form.[5]

B. Valid Signature

A valid signature consists of any handwritten mark or sign made by a person to signify the following:

  • The person knows of the content of the request and any supporting documents;

  • The person has reviewed and approves of any information contained in such request and any supporting documents; and

  • The person certifies under penalty of perjury that the request and any other supporting documents are true and correct.

A valid signature does not need to be legible or in English, and may be abbreviated as long as this is consistent with how the person signing normally signs his or her name. A valid signature does not have to be in cursive handwriting. A person may use an “X” or similar mark as his or her signature. A signature is valid even if the original signature on the document is photocopied, scanned, faxed, or similarly reproduced. Regardless of how it is transmitted to USCIS, the copy must be of an original document containing an original handwritten signature, unless otherwise specified. The regulations do not require that the person signing submit an “original” or “wet ink” signature on a petition, application, or other request to USCIS.

When determining whether a signature is acceptable, officers should review any applicable regulations, form instructions, and policy to ensure that the signature on a particular benefit request is proper. USCIS does not accept signatures created by a typewriter, word processor, stamp, auto-pen, or similar device.

For benefit requests filed electronically as permitted by form instructions, USCIS accepts signatures in an electronic format. Benefit requestors must follow the instructions provided to properly sign electronically. [6]

Acceptable and Unacceptable Signatures

Acceptable

Unacceptable

  • Original signature

  • Handwritten “X,” or similar mark, in ink (including a fingerprint, if unable to write)

  • Abbreviated signature, if that is the normal signature

  • Signature of parent or legal guardian of benefit requestor if requestor is under 14 years of age

  • Signature by the benefit requestor’s legal guardian, surrogate, or person with a valid durable power of attorney or a similar legally binding document[7]

  • An original signature on the benefit request that is later photocopied, scanned, faxed, or similarly reproduced, unless otherwise required by form instructions

  • Electronic signature[8]

  • Typed name on signature line

  • Signature by an attorney or representative signing for the requestor or requestor's child

  • Signature created by a typewriter, word processor, stamp, auto-pen, or similar device[9]

C. Who May Sign

The signer of a benefit request or any document submitted to USCIS affirms that the signer has authority to sign the document, has knowledge of the facts being represented in the document, and attests to the veracity of the facts and claims made in the document. Signers may be held accountable for any fraud or material misrepresentation associated with the benefit request.

For any particular benefit request, USCIS may specify the signature requirements, as well as related evidentiary requirements, to establish signatory authority. Benefit requestors should refer to the benefit request and any accompanying instructions for benefit-specific information on signature requirements.

1. Benefit Requestors Themselves

In general, any person requesting an immigration benefit must sign their own immigration benefit request, and any other associated documents, before filing it with USCIS.[10] Therefore, corporations or other legal entities, attorneys, accredited representatives, agents,[11] preparers, and interpreters generally may not sign a benefit request, or associated documents, for a requestor.

By signing the benefit request, the requestor certifies under penalty of perjury that the benefit request, and all evidence submitted with it, either at or after the time of filing, is true and correct.

2. Parents and Legal Guardians of Requestors

A parent may sign a benefit request on behalf of a child who is under 14 years of age.[12] Children 14 years of age or older must sign on their own behalf. If a parent signs on behalf of a child, the parent must submit a birth certificate or adoption decree to establish the parent-child relationship.

A legal guardian[13] may also sign a benefit request on behalf of a child who is under 14 years of age, as well as for a mentally incompetent person of any age.[14]

By signing the benefit request, the parent or guardian certifies under penalty of perjury that the benefit request, and all evidence submitted with it, either at or after the time of filing, is true and correct.

Legal Guardian

A legal guardian is a person who a proper court or public authority has designated as the benefit requestor’s legal guardian or surrogate and who is authorized to exercise legal authority over the requestor’s affairs. Legal guardian does not include persons who were not appointed by the proper court or public authority, even if they have a legitimate interest in the legal affairs of the child or incapacitated adult, are acting in loco parentis, or are a family member.[15]

USCIS requires documentation to establish the legal guardian’s authority to sign a benefit request on behalf of the child or mentally incompetent requestor. Acceptable documentation includes, but is not limited to, official letters of guardianship or other orders issued by a court or government agency legally authorized to make such appointment under the law governing the place where the child or incapacitated requestor resides.

Designated Representative

For purposes of naturalization, a designated representative may also sign for the applicant who is unable to understand or communicate an understanding of the Oath of Allegiance because of a physical or developmental disability or mental impairment.[16]

Durable Power of Attorney Requirements

​USCIS accepts a durable POA or similar legally binding document only in the case of an incapacitated adult. A formal court appointment is not necessary if a person signs on behalf of an incapacitated adult under the authority of a POA.

A POA is a written authorization to act on another’s behalf in private or business affairs or other legal matters. A durable POA is a contract signed while a person is still competent that assigns power of attorney in the event that the person becomes incapacitated at some point in the future.[17]

In most cases, the language of the durable POA specifies steps that need to be taken in order for the durable POA to take effect. To assess whether a durable POA is valid and in effect, USCIS generally requires, at minimum, a copy of the durable POA, as well as evidence showing that the steps required for the durable POA to take effect have occurred. Often this evidence includes a physician’s statement indicating that the durable POA is in effect as the result of the incapacitated adult’s disability. USCIS accepts a durable POA only if it complies with the state laws where it was executed. It is the burden of the person making the request to demonstrate that a durable POA is valid and in effect under the applicable state law.

If the person providing signatory authority under the POA is also acting as the incapacitated benefit requestor’s attorney or authorized representative for purposes of appearing before DHS, the person must submit a Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Accredited Representative (Form G-28), and meet other regulatory requirements.[18]

3. Authorized Signers for Corporations or Other Legal Entities[19]

Under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), corporations and other legal entities, such as limited partnerships (LP), professional corporations (PC or P.C.), limited liability companies (LLC), or limited liability partnerships (LLP), may file certain requests with USCIS. Such a filing may include a request to classify a noncitizen as an immigrant or nonimmigrant under a specific employment-based category, for example.

Benefit requests filed with USCIS by such legal entities may only be signed by a person with the authority to sign on behalf of the petitioning entity. Authorized persons may include, but are not limited to:

  • An executive officer of a corporation or P.C. with authority to act on behalf of the corporate entity and legally bind and commit the corporate entity in all matters (for example, chief executive officer, president, or vice president);

  • A managing partner or managing member of an LLC or LLP;

  • A duly authorized partner of a partnership;

  • An attorney employed in an employer-employee relationship by a corporation or other legal entity as its legal representative, or as a legal representative by the corporation or other legal entity’s legal department in an employer-employee relationship (for example, in-house counsel, or other attorney employees or contractors);

  • A person employed within the entity’s human resources, human capital, employee relations, personnel, or similar department who is authorized to sign legal documents on behalf of the entity;

  • An executor or administrator of an estate;

  • A trustee of a trust or a duly appointed conservator; or

  • Any other employee[20] of the entity who has the authority to legally bind and commit the entity to the terms and conditions attached to the specific request and attestations made in the request.

A sole proprietor is the only person authorized to sign a request filed on behalf of a sole proprietorship.

In all cases involving authorized signers for corporations or other legal entities, the benefit request must contain a statement by the person signing the request, affirming that:

  • He or she has the legal authority to file the request on the petitioning employer’s behalf;

  • The employer is aware of all of the facts stated in the request; and

  • Such factual statements are complete, true, and correct.

If such affirmation if the form itself, a signature by the person filing the form may be sufficient to meet this requirement. If the affirmation specified above is not contained in the form, the authorized signer must provide a separate statement affirming that he or she has the authority to legally bind the corporation or other legal entity.

If USCIS has reason to doubt a person’s authority to sign or act on behalf of a corporation or other legal entity, USCIS may request evidence that demonstrates the person has the requisite legal authority to sign the request. Such requested evidence may include, but is not limited to:

  • Bylaws;

  • Articles of organization;

  • A letter reflecting delegation of such authority from a corporate officer or board member;

  • Board of director’s minutes reflecting the grant or the board’s approval of such authority being exercised by the person in question; or

  • A similar document that indicates the employee may legally bind the corporation or other legal entity with his or her signature.                 

D. Clarification Regarding Form G-28

An attorney or accredited representative may sign and submit a Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Accredited Representative (Form G-28) to certify that the person, corporation, or other legal entity named in the Form G-28 has authorized the attorney or representative to act on the person’s or legal entity’s behalf in front of Department of Homeland Security (DHS). However, a Form G-28 by itself does not authorize a representative to sign a request or other document on behalf of a person or legal entity. Further, an attorney or representative may not use a POA to sign a Form G-28 on behalf of a person or legal entity to authorize his or her own appearance.

Footnotes


[^ 1] Except as specifically authorized in the regulations, this guidance, or in the respective form instructions, an applicant, petitioner, or requestor must personally sign his or her own request before filing it with USCIS.

[^ 2] See 8 CFR 103.2(a)(2). The term “request” refers to any written request for an immigration benefit, service, or request for action, whether the request is submitted on an Office of Management and Budget-approved form or is an informal written request submitted to USCIS. The term also includes any form supplements and any other materials that require the signature of the requestor. An example of an exception to this requirement is for naturalization applications where a designated representative may sign an application on behalf of an applicant who otherwise qualifies for an oath waiver under INA 337(a) because of a physical or developmental disability or mental impairment. For more information, see Volume 12, Citizenship and Naturalization, Part J, Oath of Allegiance, Chapter 3, Oath of Allegiance Modifications and Waivers, Section C, Waiver of the Oath [12 USCIS-PM J.3(C)].

[^ 3] See 8 CFR 103.2(a)(7).

[^ 4] Unless otherwise specified, the term “person” as used in the Policy Manual refers to a natural person.

[^ 5] A rejection of a filing with USCIS may not be appealed, see 8 CFR 103.2(a)(7)(iii).

[^ 6] See 8 CFR 103.2(a)(2).

[^ 7] Must contain evidence (such as a physician's statement) indicating that the durable POA is in effect as a result of the person's disability.

[^ 8] For benefit requests filed electronically as permitted by form instructions, USCIS accepts signatures in an electronic format. Benefit requestors must follow the instructions provided to properly sign electronically, see 8 CFR 103.2(a)(2).

[^ 9] In certain instances, a stamped signature may be allowed as provided by the form instructions. For example, a health department physician who is acting as a blanket-designated civil surgeon and submitting a vaccination assessment for a refugee adjusting status on the Report of Immigration Medical Examination and Vaccination Record (Form I-693) may provide an original (handwritten) or stamped signature, as long as it is the signature of the health department physician. See Form I-693 instructions (PDF, 453.66 KB). See Volume 8, Admissibility, Part B, Health-Related Grounds of Inadmissibility, Chapter 4, Review of Medical Examination Documentation, Section C, Documentation Completed by Civil Surgeon, Subsection 3, Signatures [8 USCIS-PM B.4(C)(3)]. For benefit requests filed electronically as permitted by form instructions, USCIS accepts signatures in an electronic format. Benefit requestors must follow the instructions provided to properly sign electronically, see 8 CFR 103.2(a)(2).

[^ 10] See 8 CFR 103.2(a)(2).

[^ 11] This Part does not address agents who are filing as a petitioner on behalf of a corporation or other legal entity seeking an H, O, or P nonimmigrant worker, as provided in 8 CFR 214.2(h)(2)(i)(F), 8 CFR 214.2(h)(5)(i)(A), 8 CFR 214.2(h)(6)(iii)(B), 8 CFR 214.2(o)(2)(i), 8 CFR 214.2(o)(2)(iv)(E), 8 CFR 214.2(p)(2)(i), and 8 CFR 214.2(p)(2)(iv)(E). See the governing regulations and Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker (Form I-129) instructions for more information on the applicable signature requirements for these particular nonimmigrant categories.

[^ 12] See 8 CFR 103.2(a)(2).

[^ 13] If a legal guardian signs on behalf of a requestor, the legal guardian must submit evidence to establish legal guardianship.

[^ 14] See 8 CFR 103.2(a)(2).

[^ 15] Different jurisdictions may have different terms for legal guardians, including conservator, committee, tutor, or other titles designating a duly appointed surrogate.

[^ 16] See Volume 12, Citizenship and Naturalization, Part J, Oath of Allegiance, Chapter 3, Oath of Allegiance Modifications and Waivers, Section C, Waiver of the Oath, Subsection 2, Legal Guardian, Surrogate, or Designated Representative [12 USCIS-PM J.3(C)(2)].

[^ 17] This scenario specifically describes a “springing” durable POA (as distinguished from an “immediate” durable POA). See Black’s Law Dictionary, 2nd Ed. (“durable power of attorney”). Because USCIS only accepts durable POAs that are in effect as the result of an incapacitated adult’s disability, a valid durable POA accepted by USCIS would necessarily be springing.

[^ 18] See 8 CFR 292.

[^ 19] This section does not address agents who are permitted to act as a petitioner for a corporation or other legal entity seeking an H, O, or P nonimmigrant worker, as provided in 8 CFR 214.2(h)(2)(i)(F), (h)(5)(i)(A), (h)(6)(iii)(B), (o)(2)(i), (o)(2)(iv)(E), (p)(2)(i), or (p)(2)(iv)(E). See the particular nonimmigrant category’s regulations or the Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker (Form I-129) instructions for the requirements governing the scope of an agent’s authority in those contexts.

[^ 20] The person’s title or department within the corporation or other legal entity is not determinative.

Chapter 3 - Fees

Requestors must include any required fees with the submission of a benefit request to USCIS. This payment must be in U.S. currency.[1]

The fee amount for each benefit request is controlled by regulation[2] and is published in the Fee Schedule (Form G-1055). The total fee amount for each request is not determined solely by the fee required for the associated form.[3] Additional fees may be required, such as a biometric services fee[4] or the fraud detection and prevention fee.[5]

The additional services needed in a given situation dictate which additional fees, if any, are added to the total amount. Form G-1055 indicates which fees are required.

USCIS may waive the fee for certain immigration benefit requests if the individual requests that the fee be waived and meets the eligibility criteria for the fee waiver.[6] Certain forms and categories of requestors are exempt from fees. In addition to Form G-1055, the Filing Fees webpage provides information about how to pay USCIS fees. Requestors can use the Fee Calculator to determine the exact filing fee for any form processed at a USCIS Lockbox facility.[7]

A. Fee Submission

1. Submission of Benefit Request with Fee

Once USCIS receives the proper fee[8] and determines the benefit request meets all other acceptance criteria,[9] USCIS accepts the submission of the benefit request and sends the benefit requestor a receipt notice. USCIS rejects submissions that do not contain valid payment of the correct fee amount or otherwise do not meet the acceptance criteria.[10] If the payment is not collectable and USCIS has approved the benefit request, USCIS may revoke, rescind, or cancel the approval with notice.[11]

The USCIS online system guides those benefit requestors filing online through the process of paying fees online. Once the form is ready for submission, the system directs the benefit requestor to Pay.gov to pay. If the payment is declined, the request cannot be submitted due to lack of payment.[12]

2. Unfunded Payments

USCIS fees are generally non-refundable and must be paid when the benefit request is filed.[13] If the requestor pays a fee by credit card and the credit card is declined for any reason, USCIS does not attempt to process the credit card payment a second time and may reject the associated request for lack of payment.[14] If a check or other method of payment used to pay a fee is dated more than 1 year before USCIS receives the request, USCIS may reject the payment and request.[15]

If a form of payment other than a credit card is used to pay a fee, and it is returned as unpayable because of insufficient funds, USCIS resubmits the payment to the remitter institution one time.[16] If the remitter institution returns the form of payment as unpayable a second time, USCIS may reject or deny the filing.[17] USCIS does not resubmit payments returned as unpayable for a reason other than insufficient funds.[18]

If a payment is unfunded at the time of filing, USCIS does not generally issue a receipt. However, if a receipt was issued, the unfunded payment renders it void and the requestor does not retain the receipt date.[19]

If a payment was unfunded after the benefit request was approved, USCIS may revoke, rescind, or cancel the approval with notice, typically in the form of a Notice of Intent to Revoke (NOIR).[20] USCIS may at its discretion separately bill the requestor for the unpaid fee instead of sending a NOIR. If a requestor receives such a NOIR, the requestor may respond with payment of the correct fee amount.

USCIS does not ultimately revoke, rescind, or cancel the approval on the basis of an unfunded fee payment if the requestor cures the deficiency noted in the NOIR with payment of the correct fee amount. USCIS may revoke the approval with notice of an approved benefit request that required multiple fees if any single fee is unfunded. In such cases, any other fees paid for the approved benefit request are non-refundable.[21]

B. Forms of Payment

USCIS accepts different payment methods depending on whether the benefit requestor resides inside or outside of the United States or the nature of the request. USCIS does not accept all forms of payment. Details regarding acceptable forms and methods of payment can be found on the Filing Fees webpage.

Benefit requestors filing from inside the United States may pay their fees in one of the following ways, depending on the form that is being submitted:

In limited circumstances, an individual may submit a benefit request directly at a USCIS field office. In such cases, the benefit requestor may submit their request and appropriate fee by mail to the field office using either a check or Form G-1450.[22]

Benefit requestors filing from outside the United States should go to the Forms webpage to determine whether a form may be filed from outside of the United States. Depending on the form, the benefit requestor may pay fees online, by mail, or in person at a U.S. embassy or consulate.[23]

1. Credit Card, Debit Card, or Pre-paid Card

USCIS accepts payments by credit card, debit card, or pre-paid card for fees associated with benefit requests filed with one of the USCIS Lockbox facilities, the appropriate Service Center, and most USCIS field office locations.

Applicants filing by mail must use Form G-1450 to pay with a credit card, debit card, or pre-paid card. USCIS uses the information provided on Form G-1450 to process a credit card, debit card, or pre-paid card payment through either the U.S. Department of Treasury Pay.gov Collection Control Panel (CCP) or the Trusted Collections Service (TCS).

CCP and TCS are web-based applications that allow federal government agencies to process payments by credit, debit, or prepaid cards. After USCIS processes Form G-1450, USCIS destroys the authorization, regardless of whether USCIS accepts or rejects the associated benefit request.

2. Check

Benefit requestors may generally pay fees with bank drafts, cashier’s checks, certified checks, personal checks, and money orders drawn on U.S. financial institutions and payable in U.S. funds. Some USCIS field offices and international immigration offices no longer accept money orders or cashier’s checks. Benefit requestors should refer to the form instructions and form landing page on uscis.gov for the most up-to-date information.[24]

3. Cash

USCIS does not accept payment by cash to pay fees associated with benefit requests.

C. Refunds

Fees submitted to USCIS are generally non-refundable regardless of the ultimate decision on the benefit request or how much time is required to issue a decision.[25] There are a few exceptions to this rule, such as if USCIS makes an error that results in the inappropriate filing of a form or if USCIS collects the wrong fee.[26]

If a benefit requestor believes they are entitled to a refund of a fee, the requestor should contact the USCIS Contact Center or submit a written request for a refund to the USCIS office with jurisdiction over the benefit request.

USCIS reviews the request for a refund and either approves or denies the request based on the available information. If the officer finds USCIS made an error, the officer should complete a Request for Refund of Fee (Form G-266). USCIS then notifies the requestor of its decision on the request. All Forms G-266 must be signed by a District or Service Center Director, or a person within the chain of command that has been delegated that authority.

Fees paid to USCIS using a credit card, debit card, or pre-paid card are not subject to dispute, chargeback, forced refund, or return to the cardholder for any reason except at the discretion of USCIS.[27]

Footnotes


[^ 1] See 8 CFR 103.2(a)(7)(D). See 8 CFR 106.1.

[^ 2] See 8 CFR 106.2. See the USCIS All Forms webpage for a complete list of all forms and form instructions.

[^ 3] See 8 CFR 106.2.

[^ 4] See 8 CFR 103.17. Most forms no longer require a separate biometric services fee. See the form instructions for specific information about biometric services fee requirements.

[^ 5] See 8 CFR 106.2(c).

[^ 6] See INA 286(m) (authorizing USCIS fees to recover the costs of services provided without charge). See 8 CFR 106.3(a). For more information on Fee Waivers, see Chapter 4, Fee Waivers and Fee Exemptions [1 USCIS-PM B.4].

[^ 7] For more information, see the Forms Processed at a USCIS Lockbox webpage.

[^ 8] Unless the requestor is otherwise exempt from the fees or has an approved fee waiver.

[^ 9] For more information, see the Filing Guidance and Tips for Filing Forms by Mail webpages. For forms that are available for online filing, see the Tips for Filing Forms Online webpage.

[^ 10] See 8 CFR 103.2.

[^ 11] See 8 CFR 103.2(a)(7)(ii)(D). See also 8 CFR 106.1(c)(2).

[^ 12] For more information on submitting an online payment, see the Tips for Filing Forms Online webpage.

[^ 13] See 8 CFR 103.2(a).

[^ 14] See 8 CFR 103.2(a)(7)(ii)(D)(3).

[^ 15] See 8 CFR 103.2(a)(7)(ii)(D)(4).

[^ 16] See 8 CFR 103.2(a)(7)(ii)(D)(2).

[^ 17] See 8 CFR 103.2(a)(7)(ii)(D)(2).

[^ 18] See 8 CFR 103.2(a)(7)(ii)(D)(3).

[^ 19] See 8 CFR 106.1(c)(1).

[^ 20] See 8 CFR 103.2(a)(7)(ii)(D). See also 8 CFR 106.1(c)(2).

[^ 21] See 8 CFR 106.1(c)(2).

[^ 22] Applicants submitting an Application for Travel Document (Form I-131) with an emergency advance parole request must make an appointment with the USCIS Contact Center, apply in person with their payment (if applicable) and supporting documentation, and pay the application fee by credit card with Form G-1450 or check at the field office.

[^ 23] For information on how to pay USCIS fees outside of the United States, see the International Immigration Offices webpage or contact the appropriate U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

[^ 24] For more information on paying by check, see the Filing Fees webpage.

[^ 25] See 8 CFR 103.2(a)(1).

[^ 26] For example, when USCIS requests that an applicant file a waiver application for a ground of inadmissibility that was not necessary.

[^ 27] See 8 CFR 106.1(e).

Chapter 4 - Fee Waivers and Fee Exemptions

A. General

1. Eligibility to Request a Fee Waiver

USCIS permits certain categories of benefit requestors to submit a Request for Fee Waiver (Form I-912) for certain immigration benefits and services.[1] There is no fee required for filing a fee waiver request.

A benefit requestor may request a fee waiver from USCIS if:

  • The form is eligible for a fee waiver and the benefit requestor meets any applicable conditions; and
  • The benefit requestor is unable to pay the requisite fee based on one of three criteria described below (Section D, Basis for Inability to Pay).

If a benefit request includes both the appropriate filing fee and a fee waiver request, USCIS does not adjudicate the fee waiver request. In such a case, USCIS deposits the fee and processes the immigration benefit request, if it is otherwise acceptable.

2. Filing a Fee Waiver Request 

To request a fee waiver, a benefit requestor must submit: 

  • A Request for Fee Waiver (Form I-912) or written statement requesting a fee waiver; and
  • Documentation establishing eligibility for a fee waiver.

Generally, each person requesting a fee waiver must submit a separate Form I-912 or written statement and supporting documentation.[2] The requestor must sign the Form I-912 or written statement.[3]

USCIS does not review fee waiver requests submitted for benefit requests that USCIS rejected for reasons unrelated to the fee. For example, USCIS does not review fee waiver requests if an application is defective due to a missing signature.

3. Burden of Proof and Standard of Proof

The burden of proof is on the requestor to establish an inability to pay the required fee by a preponderance of the evidence by establishing at least one of the criteria for eligibility.[4] The requestor satisfies the standard of proof if they submit relevant, probative, and credible evidence that leads the USCIS officer to conclude that it is “probably true” or “more likely than not” that the requestor is unable to pay the required fee.[5]

B. Forms Eligible for Fee Waiver

If not otherwise exempt from paying the fee, a benefit requestor may submit a request for a fee waiver for certain eligible forms.[6] There are three general categories of fee waivers allowed for eligible forms:

  • General fee waivers;  
  • Conditional fee waivers; and
  • Humanitarian fee waivers.

General fee waivers are available for eligible forms for requestors who demonstrate an inability to pay. Conditional fee waivers are available for eligible forms for requestors who demonstrate an inability to pay and meet certain conditions. Humanitarian fee waivers are available for eligible forms for requestors for humanitarian purposes as authorized by statute.

1. General Fee Waivers

The following table provides a list of forms for which USCIS may waive the fees based on a requestor’s inability to pay.

Forms Eligible for General Fee Waivers

Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card (Form I-90)
Application for Relief Under Former Section 212(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) (Form I-191)[7]
Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence (Form I-751)
Application for Family Unity Benefits (Form I-817)
Application for Temporary Protected Status (Form I-821)[8]
Application for Suspension of Deportation or Special Rule Cancellation of Removal (Form I-881)
Application to File Declaration of Intention (Form N-300)
Request for a Hearing on a Decision in Naturalization Proceedings (Form N-336)
Application for Naturalization (Form N-400)
Application to Preserve Residence for Naturalization Purposes (Form N-470)
Application for Replacement of Naturalization/Citizenship Document (Form N-565)
Application for Certificate of Citizenship (Form N-600)
Application for Citizenship and Issuance of Certificate under Section 322 (Form N-600K)

2. Conditional Fee Waivers

Certain fee waivers depend on specific conditions. The following table provides a list of forms for which USCIS may waive fees based on the requestor’s inability to pay and if they meet the specified conditions.

Forms Eligible for Conditional Fee Waivers

Petition for a CNMI-Only Nonimmigrant Transitional Worker (Form I–129CW) petitioning for an E–2 CNMI investor
Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status (Form I–539), only in the case of a noncitizen applying for CW–2 nonimmigrant status
Application for Travel Document (Form I-131) for those applying for humanitarian parole
Application for Advance Permission to Enter as Nonimmigrant (Form I-192) for an applicant who is exempt from the public charge grounds of inadmissibility[9]
Application for Waiver of Passport and/or Visa (Form I-193) for an applicant who is exempt from the public charge grounds of inadmissibility[10]
Notice of Appeal or Motion (Form I-290B) if the underlying benefit request was fee exempt, the fee was waived, or it was eligible for a fee waiver
Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status (Form I-485) for an applicant who is exempt from the public charge grounds of inadmissibility[11]
Petition for a CNMI-Only Nonimmigrant Transitional Worker, or an Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status (Form I-539) for an applicant applying for CW-2 nonimmigrant status
Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility (Form I-601) for an applicant who is exempt from the public charge grounds of inadmissibility[12]
Notice of Appeal of Decision Under Sections 210 or 245A of the Immigration and Nationality Act (Form I-694) if the underlying application or petition was fee exempt, the filing fee was waived, or was eligible for a fee waiver
Application for Employment Authorization (Form I-765), except persons filing under category (c)(33), Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

For the following forms if the applicant is exempt from public charge ground of inadmissibility under INA 212(a)(4):

  • Application for Advance Permission to Enter as Nonimmigrant (Form I-192);
  • Application for Waiver for Passport and/or Visa (Form I-193);
  • Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status (Form I-485); and
  • Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility (Form I-601).

3. Humanitarian Fee Waivers 

USCIS provides fee exemptions for many forms filed by certain humanitarian categories of requestors.[13] If not otherwise exempt from paying the fee, an individual may request a fee waiver for any application or petition that is related to any of the following humanitarian categories:

  • Battered spouses of A, G, E-3, or H nonimmigrants;
  • Battered spouses or children of a lawful permanent resident or U.S. citizen under INA Section 240A(b)(2);
  • T nonimmigrants;
  • Temporary Protected Status (TPS);
  • U nonimmigrants;
  • VAWA self-petitioners and derivative(s);
  • Conditional permanent residents (CPRs) filing a waiver of the joint filing requirement based on battery or extreme cruelty;
  • Abused spouses and children adjusting status under the Cuban Adjustment Act (CAA) and Haitian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act of 1998 (HRIFA);
  • Abused spouses and children seeking benefits under Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act (NACARA);
  • Special immigrant juveniles;
  • Asylees; or
  • Refugees.[14]

C. Category of Requestor Eligible for Fee Waiver

1. Documentation of an Eligible Category

A requestor must submit documentation to show that they fall into a category eligible for a fee waiver. Such documentation may include:

  • A copy of any type of Notice of Action (Form I-797) for the eligible benefit; 
  • A copy of a permanent resident card with the eligible category annotated; or
  • Any other evidence of a petition or application pending with USCIS for an eligible benefit category.

For concurrently filed applications, USCIS officers review the type of benefit request submitted and the category requested to determine whether the requestor is eligible for a fee waiver.

For separately filed applications, if the primary benefit eligible for a fee waiver has already been filed, the requestor may submit a copy of the primary benefit petition or application that was filed with the fee waiver request.

An officer may verify in the available systems whether the requestor has applied for or received a benefit for one of the eligible categories.

2. Other Agency Fee Waiver Request

USCIS cannot waive the fee for any U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) forms, but an immigration judge may waive fees for EOIR forms as well as requests filed on USCIS forms in an immigration court proceeding.[15]

Immigration judges may also request that USCIS consider a fee waiver request for a party in their court. In such cases, the requestor must still submit Form I-912 or written statement along with evidence of eligibility for the fee waiver.

D. Basis for Inability to Pay

USCIS evaluates whether the requestor is unable to pay the filing fee based on the following criteria:

  • The requestor or qualifying member of the requestor’s household is receiving a means-tested benefit;
  • The requestor’s household income level is at or below 150 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines (FPG); or
  • The requestor is experiencing extreme financial hardship due to extraordinary expenses or other circumstances that render the individual unable to pay the fee.

An officer must evaluate whether the requestor establishes an inability to pay under any of these three criteria.

1. Means-Tested Benefit

USCIS approves a request for fee waiver if the requestor or their qualifying family member is receiving a means-tested benefit at the time of filing the request for fee waiver. A means-tested benefit is a public benefit where a person’s eligibility for the benefit, the amount of the benefit, or both, is based on the person’s income and resources.

The benefit-granting agency determines whether the person is lawfully eligible for the means-tested benefit. USCIS considers means-tested benefits that are federally, state, locally, or tribal funded and granted by the benefit agency.

Examples of means-tested benefit programs include, but are not limited to: 

  • Any federal, state, local, or tribal cash assistance for income maintenance, such as:
    • Supplemental Security Income (SSI);
    • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), which may be provided under another TANF-Program state name;
    • Other federal, state, or local cash benefit programs for income maintenance (often called “General Assistance” in the state context, but which may exist under other names);
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP);
  • Medicaid (federally funded Medicaid may also be provided under a Medicaid Program state name);
  • Section 8 Housing Assistance under the Housing Choice Voucher program, Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance (including Moderate Rehabilitation), and housing assistance under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act;
  • Housing under the Housing Act of 1937;
  • Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and other energy assistance programs;
  • CNMI Nutrition Assistance Program (NAP);
  • Any services provided under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (Stafford Act);
  • Any cash benefit provided by the Department of Veteran's Affairs or other federal or state, local, or tribal benefit provided based on veteran status;
  • Benefits under the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP);
  • Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP);
  • Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR);
  • Benefits through the Child Nutrition Act, Benefits from the National School Lunch Act and Summer Food Service program;
  • Child Care and Development Block Grant Program (CCDBGP);
  • Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC); and
  • Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).

Family Member’s Means-Tested Benefit 

A requestor’s spouse and unmarried children under 21 years of age who reside with the requestor are generally eligible for a fee waiver based on the requestor’s receipt of a means-tested benefit. If the requestor is legally separated from the spouse or not living with the spouse, then the requestor is ineligible for the fee waiver based on the spouse’s means-tested benefit. 

A requestor may be eligible for a fee waiver based on their child’s receipt of a means-tested benefit so long as their child is unmarried, under 21 years of age, resides with the requestor, and the child’s eligibility for the benefit is based on the requestor’s income.[16]

For example, a parent may use evidence of a child’s receipt of public housing, WIC, or SNAP as proof of inability to pay when the parent resides in the same residence because the child’s eligibility for public housing is partly based on the parent's income.

In general, a child over 21 years of age cannot use a parent’s means-tested benefit to qualify for a fee waiver. However, if the child is disabled and the parent is the child’s legal guardian or surrogate, the child may use the parent’s means-tested benefit to support a request for fee waiver.[17]

Documentation

In general, if a requestor provides documentation of receipt of a means-tested benefit, the request for fee waiver is approved and no further information is required. To demonstrate that an individual is currently receiving a means-tested benefit, the requestor must provide a letter, notice, or other agency document(s) containing the following information: 

  • The name of the individual receiving the means-tested benefit; 
  • The name of the agency granting the public benefit;[18] 
  • The type of benefit; and 
  • Indication that the benefit is currently being received (for example, a recently dated letter or document with effective dates, date of renewal or period the approval ends, if available). If the documentation is more than 12 months old, the requestor must provide additional evidence that shows the benefit is currently being received. 

If the basis of a request for fee waiver is a qualifying family member’s receipt of a means-tested benefit, then the requestor must also provide documentation establishing that the requestor is listed as a person receiving the means-tested benefit or documentation establishing the qualifying familial relationship and that the requestor is residing in the same household as the individual that is receiving the means-tested benefit.

2. Household Income at or Below 150 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines

USCIS approves a request for fee waiver if the requestor demonstrates that their total adjusted gross household income at the time of the request is at or below 150 percent of the current FPG based on household size. USCIS does not review the requestor’s past history of income or future income or financial situation when determining household income.

The Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) establishes the FPG annually. USCIS uses the adjusted gross income from an IRS Form 1040 or the gross income from an IRS Form W-2 including any overtime and irregular hours as listed to calculate the annual income.

For fee waiver purposes, a household[19] may include: 

  • The requestor;
  • The head of household (if not the requestor);[20]
  • The requestor’s spouse, if living with the requestor (if the requestor and spouse are separated or not living together, then the spouse is not included as part of the household);[21] and
  • Any family members living in the requestor’s household who are dependent on the applicant’s income, the spouse’s income, or the head of household’s income.

Family members living in the requestor’s household may include:

  • The requestor’s children or legal wards who are unmarried and under 21 years of age;
  • The requestor’s children or legal wards who are unmarried, are 21 years of age or over, but under 24 years of age, and are full-time students;
  • The requestor’s children or legal wards who are unmarried and for whom the requestor is the legal guardian because the child or legal ward is physically or developmentally disabled, or mentally impaired and unable to self-care, establish, maintain, or re-establish their own household;
  • The requestor’s parents; and
  • Any other dependents listed on the requestor’s federal income tax return, or the spouse’s or head of household’s federal income tax return.[22]

For a fee waiver request, USCIS does not include people who are cohabitating with the applicant, but not financially supported by the applicant, such as roommates or nannies, within the definition of household or household member.   

Additionally, if the requestor has been deemed legally incompetent[23] by a court of law, then the requestor’s individual income is still used to determine household income. However, the income of any household member, legal guardian or surrogate, or any other care provider, does not count towards the calculation of household income for such requestors.

Documentation

To demonstrate household income at or below 150 percent of the FPG, the requestor may provide a copy of one or more of the following, where applicable, for each household member:

  • Most recent federal tax return with signature (or transcript);[24]
  • Most recent Wage and Tax Statement (IRS Form W-2);
  • Consecutive pay statements (stubs) for a minimum period of one month dated within the three months preceding the receipt of the fee waiver request; 
  • Certain Government Payments (Form 1099-G);
  • Form SSA-1099; or
  • Documentation of any additional financial assistance.[25]

An officer may grant a request for fee waiver in the absence of some of this documentation so long as the available documentation supports that the requestor is more likely than not unable to pay the fee.

If the household member’s income has changed since the tax return filing because of unemployment, the requestor provides evidence of the household member’s unemployment such as a termination letter or unemployment insurance receipt. If the household member’s income has changed since the tax return filing due to a change in employment or change in income, the requestor provides information on the current employment and income, such as recent pay statements (stubs) or Form W-2.

If the household members reside and filed tax returns in a U.S. territory and were not required to file a federal tax return, the requestor must submit the tax returns (or transcript) from the territory instead of a federal tax return.

Tax Returns

A copy of the most recent tax return with signature alone may provide sufficient proof of income for fee waiver purposes. However, where the requestor provides other proof of income (or lack of income), a request for fee waiver should not be rejected solely based on the absence of tax return(s). 

If the request for fee waiver is filed between January 1 and the deadline for filing income taxes for the year, and the household member has not yet filed the previous year’s income tax return, the requestor may submit the household member’s tax return (or transcript[26]) for the most recently filed year. The requestor must certify by signing their fee waiver request that their income has not changed since the most recently filed tax return. If the household member’s income has changed since their most recently filed tax return, the requester must submit additional evidence of the household member’s income.[27]

USCIS does not accept Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) statements, Miscellaneous Income (Form 1099-MISC), and Certain Government Payments (Form 1099-G) or other G-1099 forms as proof of income without the tax returns, tax transcripts, W-2s, or Social Security statements.

If the requestor’s current situation is different from the documentation provided, the requestor must provide an explanation regarding the inconsistency in the documentation. For example, if a tax return or transcript indicates the requestor is married, but the requestor is currently separated or annotates single in the fee waiver request, the requestor must provide an additional explanation for the inconsistency and the documentation for income. The requestor may provide additional documentation to establish marital status and household size.

A requestor may use IRS Form 4506-T (PDF) to request: 

  • An income tax transcript; 
  • A copy of Form W-2; or 
  • Form 1099-G. 

Requestors do not need to submit multiple copies of tax returns. If the requestor provided their most recent tax returns as part of the underlying petition or application filed with the Form I-912, such as a naturalization application and tax returns, filed concurrently, the requestor does not need to submit additional tax returns or a transcript. 

Additional Financial Assistance

To establish the total income, a request must include any additional financial assistance (not otherwise included in a tax return or W-2) including any Social Security income (as reflected on the SSA-1099) to the adjusted gross income in the tax return. 

The table below includes some types of additional financial assistance that USCIS considers household income for a fee waiver request. The requestor must provide documentation of each type of additional financial assistance that applies.

Additional Financial Assistance

Parental support
Child support
Pensions
Royalties
Unemployment benefits
Alimony
Educational stipends
Social Security
Veterans benefits
A court order granting any child support or documentation from an agency providing other income or financial assistance
Consistent or regular financial support from adult children, parents, dependents, or other people living in the applicant’s household

VAWA, T, and U-Based Requestors

Requestors seeking a fee waiver for any immigration benefit associated with or based on a pending or approved petition or application for VAWA benefits[28] or T or U nonimmigrant status that are not otherwise fee exempted do not need to list as household members or provide income information for the following people: 

  • Any person in the household who is or was the requestor’s abuser, human trafficker, or perpetrator; or 
  • A person who is or was a member of the abuser, human trafficker, or perpetrator’s household.

In addition, such requestors do not need to list their spouse as a household member or include their spouse’s income in the fee waiver request. 

If a VAWA self-petitioner or recipient[29] (or their derivative(s)) or applicant, petitioner, or recipient of T or U nonimmigrant status does not have any income or cannot provide proof of income, the requestor may:

  • Describe the situation in sufficient detail in the fee waiver request to substantiate lack of income or income at or below 150 percent of the FPG, as well as the inability to obtain the required documentation; and
  • Provide any documentation of the income, such as pay stubs or affidavits from religious institutions, non-profits, or other community-based organizations, verifying that the requestor is currently receiving some benefit or support from that entity and attesting to the financial situation, if available.

Special Immigrant Juveniles

A petitioner or recipient of Special Immigrant Juvenile (SIJ) classification who files a fee waiver request for a filing not otherwise fee exempted does not need to provide proof of income. USCIS considers requestors in this category as part of their own household, without including any foster or group home household members.

Instead of proof of income, the fee waiver request must include documentation showing that the requestor has an approved petition for SIJ classification (for example, a copy of Notice of Action (Form I-797) for Form I-360).[30]

3. Extreme Financial Hardship

Even if a requestor has income above 150 percent of the FPG, the requestor may be able to demonstrate that extreme financial hardship makes the requestor unable to pay the fee(s). Extreme financial hardship occurs when a requestor requires substantially all of their current income and liquid assets to meet current ordinary and necessary living expenses. An extreme financial hardship is more than a financial burden caused by paying the filing fee.

The requestor may demonstrate extreme financial hardship due to extraordinary expenses or other circumstances affecting the requestor’s financial situation to the degree of inability to pay the fee. If the requestor is under extreme financial hardship, the requestor should demonstrate negative financial impact as a result of this hardship in the 12 months preceding the receipt of the fee waiver request that rendered the requestor unable to pay the fee.

The following list contains some examples of financial hardships for which USCIS may grant a request for fee waiver:

  • A medical emergency or catastrophic illness affecting the noncitizen or the noncitizen’s dependents;[31]
  • Unemployment;
  • Significant loss of work hours and wages (change in employment status); 
  • Eviction;
  • Homelessness;
  • Military deployment of spouse or parent;
  • Natural disaster; 
  • Loss of home (destruction such as fire, water, or collapse); 
  • Inability to pay basic utilities, rent, childcare, or mortgage (payments and bills for each month are more than the monthly income); 
  • Substantial financial losses to small business that affect personal income;
  • Victimization;  
  • Divorce or death of a spouse that affects overall income; or
  • Other situations that could not normally be expected in the regular course of life events that would limit a person’s ability to meet necessary living expenses.

Documentation

In addition to explaining the financial hardship in the request for fee waiver, a requestor may submit documentation as follows to demonstrate extreme financial hardship:

  • Documentation of income, as provided above;
  • Documentation of all assets owned, possessed, or controlled by the requestor and dependents; or
  • Documentation concerning liabilities and expenses owed by the requestor and dependents, and any other expenses for which the requestor is responsible.

An officer may grant a request for fee waiver in the absence of some of this documentation as long as the available documentation supports that the requestor is more likely than not unable to pay the fee.

The table below provides a list of some assets and liabilities that may be identified as part of the fee waiver request. 

Examples of Documentation of Financial Hardship
AssetsLiabilities
  • Real estate;
  • Cash;
  • Checking and savings accounts; and
  • Stocks, bonds, and annuities (except for pension plans, Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs), and other retirement funds).
  • Rent;
  • Mortgages;  
  • Lease;
  • Average monthly cost of food;
  • Utilities;  
  • Child care and elder care;
  • Medical expenses;
  • Tuition costs;
  • Commuting costs; and
  • Monthly payments of lawful debts.

In general, if a requestor provides proof of inability to pay the fee based on financial hardship, the request for fee waiver may be approved on this basis and no further information is required.

4. Requestors Without Income

If the requestor has no income due to unemployment, homelessness, or other factors, the requestor may provide, as applicable: 

  • A detailed description of the financial situation that demonstrates eligibility for the fee waiver; 
  • Hospital bills;
  • Bankruptcy documents;
  • If the requestor is receiving support services, an affidavit from a religious institution, non-profit, hospital, or community-based organization verifying the person is currently receiving some benefit or support from that entity and attesting to the requestor’s financial situation; or
  • Evidence of unemployment, such as a termination letter or unemployment insurance receipt.

An officer may grant a request for fee waiver in the absence of some of this documentation, as long as the available documentation supports that the requestor is more likely than not unable to pay the fee.

VAWA, T, and U-Based Requestors

USCIS considers whether a requestor is unable to obtain proof of income due to alleged victimization such as trafficking or abuse. If not otherwise eligible for a fee exemption, the requestor should describe the situation in the Form I-912 or written request to substantiate the inability to pay as well as the inability to obtain the required documentation.

The requestor should provide any available documentation, such as affidavits from religious institutions, non-profits, or other community-based organizations verifying that the requestor is currently receiving some benefit or support from that entity and attesting to the financial situation.

E. Emergent Circumstance

Natural catastrophes and other extreme situations[32] beyond a person’s control may affect the ability to pay USCIS fees. Based on the USCIS Director’s authority to waive a required fee,[33] USCIS may designate certain time periods or events in which a person may file a fee waiver request when not otherwise eligible.[34]

In such cases, the requestor must still file a fee waiver request and establish eligibility under one of the criteria (generally, financial hardship). USCIS may accept the request based on the requestor’s statement even if there is no documentation of the emergencies and unforeseen circumstances.

Unless otherwise eligible, requestors may only seek a fee waiver under those emergent circumstances described in the Immigration Relief in Emergencies or Unforeseen Circumstances webpage.

F. Adjudication

USCIS may grant a fee waiver request when USCIS determines that the requestor has met the eligibility requirements.

USCIS adjudicates the fee waiver request based on the information provided in the Request for Fee Waiver (Form I-912) or written statement, as well as any additional documentation submitted in support of the fee waiver request at the time of filing. USCIS does not issue any Requests for Evidence for fee waiver requests. 

The table below provides a general outline to guide the adjudication of a request for a fee waiver. 

Overview of Fee Waiver Eligibility Determination
StepFor More Information
1Determine whether the application or petition form was properly signed.Chapter 2, Signatures [1 USCIS-PM B.2]
2Identify whether the form has a fee, or the requestor falls within a fee exempt category.Chapter 3, Fees [1 USCIS-PM B.3], Section G, Fee Exemptions [1 USCIS-PM B.4(G)]
3Verify whether the form type is eligible for a fee waiver.Section B, Forms Eligible for Fee Waiver [1 USCIS-PM B.4(B)]
4If applicable, verify whether the requestor has a pending or approved petition or application for a benefit category eligible for a fee waiver.Section C, Category of Requestor Eligible for Fee Waiver [1 USCIS-PM B.4(C)]
5Determine whether the requestor or a qualifying member of the requestor’s household receives a means-tested benefit.Section D, Basis for Inability to Pay, Subsection 1, Means-Tested Benefit [1 USCIS-PM B.4(D)(1)]
5aIf sufficient proof of a means-tested benefit, the request for fee waiver is approved and no further information is required.Section D, Basis for Inability to Pay, Subsection 1, Means-Tested Benefit [1 USCIS-PM B.4(D)(1)]
5bIf no documentation of a means-tested benefit, proceed to 6.Section D, Basis for Inability to Pay, Subsection 1, Means-Tested Benefit [1 USCIS-PM B.4(D)(1)]
6Determine the household size and the income level at which the requestor may qualify based on the household size.Section D, Basis for Inability to Pay, Subsection 2, Household Income at or Below 150 percent of Federal Poverty Guidelines [1 USCIS-PM B.4(D)(2)]
7Identify all valid sources of income applicable to the household and that the requestor submitted the proper documentation of income (or lack of income).Section D, Basis for Inability to Pay, Subsection 2, Household Income at or Below 150 percent of Federal Poverty Guidelines [1 USCIS-PM B.4(D)(2)]
8Determine whether the requestor’s adjusted gross income from tax returns (or gross income from W-2) is at or below 150 percent of the relevant FPG level (based on household size).Section D, Basis for Inability to Pay, Subsection 2, Household Income at or Below 150 percent of Federal Poverty Guidelines [1 USCIS-PM B.4(D)(2)]
8aIf sufficient proof of household income at or below 150 percent of the FPG, the request for fee waiver is approved and no further information is required.Section D, Basis for Inability to Pay, Subsection 2, Household Income at or Below 150 percent of Federal Poverty Guidelines [1 USCIS-PM B.4(D)(2)]
8bIf insufficient proof of household income at or below 150 percent of the FPG, proceed to 9.Section D, Basis for Inability to Pay, Subsection 2, Household Income at or Below 150 percent of Federal Poverty Guidelines [1 USCIS-PM B.4(D)(2)]
9Determine if the requestor is under extreme financial hardship due to extraordinary expenses or other circumstances that render the individual unable to pay the fee.Section D, Basis for Inability to Pay, Subsection 3, Financial Hardship [1 USCIS-PM B.4(D)(3)]
9aIf sufficient proof of extreme financial hardship, the request for fee waiver is approved and no further information is required.Section D, Basis for Inability to Pay, Subsection 3, Financial Hardship [1 USCIS-PM B.4(D)(3)]
9bIf insufficient proof of extreme financial hardship such that the requestor is unable to pay the fee, the requestor is not eligible for a fee waiver and the request is rejected.Section D, Basis for Inability to Pay, Subsection 3, Extreme Financial Hardship [1 USCIS-PM B.4(D)(3)]

1. Family-Related Applications or Petitions

In general, a requestor may file one request for fee waiver for all eligible family-related applications or petitions filed together. For example, if the requestor files the Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status (Form I-485) and the requestor’s spouse and children file separate Forms I-485 at the same time, the requestor, spouse, and children need only file one Form I-912 or written request for fee waiver.

If eligible family-related applications or petitions are filed separately, each individual family member must separately submit a Form I-912 or written request for fee waiver with the eligible application or petition.

Each fee waiver request is unique and USCIS considers each request on its own merits. However, where family members separately submit family-related applications or petitions and related requests for fee waiver, USCIS should issue consistent determinations on the family members’ individual requests for fee waiver.

2. Rejection

If USCIS determines that the requestor is not eligible for a fee waiver, then USCIS rejects the fee waiver request and the benefit request. The rejection notice must provide the requestor detailed reasons for the rejection. The table below provides a non-exhaustive list of common reasons for rejection.

Reasons for Rejecting Fee Waiver Request
ReasonExplanation
Lack of proper filing
  • Requestor did not submit a Request for Fee Waiver (Form I-912) or written statement.
Ineligible form or category
  • Requestor does not fall within a category eligible for a fee waiver.
  • Requestor is not filing a form eligible for a fee waiver.
Income is above 150 percent of the FPG and does not otherwise qualify
  • Income listed on the form or in the documentation is above the 150 percent FPG threshold and did not show receipt of a means-tested benefit or financial hardship.
Unable to determine household income
  • Identification of household members[35] on the form, but the requestor does not provide sufficient statements or documentation of the household members’ income.
  • Identification of a spouse[36] on the form, but the requestor does not provide sufficient statements or documentation of income or additional support.
  • The requestor’s filing status in the tax returns or transcript (for example, married filing jointly, single, head of household) is inconsistent with the marital status declared on the fee waiver request, the immigration benefit forms, or supporting documents, and the requestor does not provide an explanation or evidence regarding the inconsistency.
  • The requestor’s tax return or transcript indicates that the requestor may be claimed by another person, but the requestor does not provide income information for the tax filer.
Lack of income documentation[37]Lack of documentation of income (such as tax return or transcript, W-2, or pay statements) and additional income or financial support for the requestor and each household member identified in the fee waiver request or of the person providing additional income, as appropriate.

There is no appeal of a rejection of a fee waiver request. Requestors may, however, file another fee waiver request with the required documentation to establish eligibility. An applicant may also refile the benefit request with the proper fees for USCIS to process the request. The filing of a fee waiver does not toll or pause any other applicable deadlines, such as the deadline for filing an appeal or motion. Therefore, if a fee waiver request is rejected, the requestor must endeavor to re-file within the applicable timeframe. USCIS uses the postmark date of a filing to determine which form version and fees are correct but uses the receipt date for purposes of any regulatory or statutory filing deadlines.[38]

G. Fee Exemptions

Aside from fee exemptions specifically listed in regulations, the USCIS Director may provide an exemption for any fee required.[39] The Director must determine that such action would be in the public interest and the action is consistent with the applicable law.

Fee exemptions are distinct from fee waivers in that exemptions apply automatically and do not require the requestor to establish eligibility. A benefit requestor may not individually request a fee exemption as they would a fee waiver. The Director may also provide temporary fee exemptions as necessary. A request for a USCIS Director’s fee exemption must be submitted to the Office of the Director for clearance.

All current fee exemptions can be found in the Fee Schedule (Form G-1055).

Footnotes 


[^ 1] See 8 CFR 106.3.

[^ 2] There is an exception for family-related applications or petitions filed at the same time. See Section F, Adjudication [1 USCIS-PM B.4(F)].

[^ 3] For information on valid signatures and who may sign, see Chapter 2, Signatures [1 USCIS-PM B.2].

[^ 4] See Section D, Basis for Inability to Pay [1 USCIS-PM B.4(D)]. See Matter of Chawathe (PDF), 25 I&N Dec. 369 (AAO 2010) (identifying preponderance of the evidence as the standard for immigration benefits generally, and in that case specifically naturalization).

[^ 5] See Matter of Chawathe (PDF), 25 I&N Dec. 369, 376 (AAO 2010) (preponderance of the evidence means more likely than not). See U.S. v. Cardozo-Fonseca, 480 U.S. 421 (1987) (defining “more likely than not” as a greater than 50 percent probability of something occurring).

[^ 6] See 8 CFR 106.3(a)(3).

[^ 7] Also known as the Application for Advance Permission to Return to Unrelinquished Domicile.

[^ 8] See 8 CFR 106.2(a)(50). Re-registrants are exempt from paying the Form I-821 fee. Note that the biometric services fee for TPS applicants and re-registrants is not waivable.

[^ 9] See INA 212(a)(4). The receipt of public benefits does not negatively affect the review of a fee waiver request. For detailed guidance on the public charge grounds of inadmissibility, see Volume 8, Admissibility, Part G, Public Charge Ground of Inadmissibility [8 USCIS-PM G] and the Public Charge Resources page.

[^ 10] See INA 212(a)(4). The receipt of public benefits does not negatively affect the review of a fee waiver request. For detailed guidance on the public charge grounds of inadmissibility, see Volume 8, Admissibility, Part G, Public Charge Ground of Inadmissibility [8 USCIS-PM G] and the Public Charge Resources page.

[^ 11] See INA 212(a)(4). The receipt of public benefits does not negatively affect the review of a fee waiver request. For detailed guidance on the public charge grounds of inadmissibility, see Volume 8, Admissibility, Part G, Public Charge Ground of Inadmissibility [8 USCIS-PM G] and the Public Charge Resources page.

[^ 12] See INA 212(a)(4). The receipt of public benefits does not negatively affect the review of a fee waiver request. For detailed guidance on the public charge grounds of inadmissibility, see Volume 8, Admissibility, Part G, Public Charge Ground of Inadmissibility [8 USCIS-PM G] and the Public Charge Resources page.

[^ 13] See 8 CFR 106.2 and 8 CFR 106.3(b). See Fee Schedule (Form G-1055).

[^ 14] See Instructions for Form I-912.

[^ 15] See 8 CFR 1003.24(d) and 8 CFR 1103.7.

[^ 16] The requestor may also use the child’s means-tested benefit to support a fee waiver request based on household income. See Subsection 2, Household Income at or Below 150 Percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines [1 USCIS-PM B.4(D)(2)] for further discussion of qualifying members of a household.

[^ 17] In this situation, the child may also use the parent’s means-tested benefit to support a fee waiver request based on household income. See Subsection 2, Household Income at or Below 150 Percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines [1 USCIS-PM B.4(D)(2)].

[^ 18] USCIS may accept documentations from school for meal-related public benefits.

[^ 19] If the requestor submits any joint-filed federal tax returns, USCIS reviews the household size to determine household members or spouses.

[^ 20] In general, the head of the household is the person who files the most recent federal tax return with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for the household, or the person who earns most of the income for the household.

[^ 21] However, any additional income or financial support provided by the spouses must be included in the request, as discussed later in this subsection.

[^ 22] USCIS reviews the IRS federal income tax return to examine whether the requestor listed any dependents.

[^ 23] See Black’s Law Dictionary (11th ed. 2019) (incompetency is generally defined as the quality, state, or condition of being unable or unqualified to do something).

[^ 24] The requestor is not required to have the IRS certify the tax return or transcript. A copy of an unsigned tax return alone is insufficient to establish income.

[^ 25] Documentation of additional financial assistance is discussed later in this subsection.

[^ 26] For information on obtaining federal income tax transcripts without a fee, see the IRS' Get Your Tax Record webpage.

[^ 27] Details on the type of documentation required to show the household member’s income is discussed earlier in this subsection.

[^ 28] VAWA benefits include VAWA self-petitioners and derivatives as defined under INA 101(a)(51) and anyone otherwise self-petitioning due to battery or extreme cruelty under INA 204(a).

[^ 29] Includes VAWA self-petitioners and their derivatives as defined under INA 101(a)(51) and anyone otherwise self-petitioning due to battery or extreme cruelty under INA 204(a).

[^ 30] An officer may verify in the available systems whether the requestor has received SIJ classification.

[^ 31] Dependents include the noncitizen’s spouse, children, parents, or ward.

[^ 32] Including major natural disasters declared in accordance with 44 CFR 206, subpart B.

[^ 33] See 8 CFR 106.3(c). This discretionary authority may be delegated only to the USCIS Deputy Director.

[^ 34] See Immigration Relief in Emergencies or Unforeseen Circumstances webpage. For example, USCIS allowed for consideration of fee waivers for those affected by South Carolina floods in 2015.

[^ 35] Applicants for any immigration benefit associated with or based on a pending or approved petition or application for VAWA benefits or T or U nonimmigrant status do not need to list as a member of their household or provide the income of any person who is or was their abuser, human trafficker, or perpetrator or is or was a member of the abuser, human trafficker, or perpetrator’s household. For more information, see Section D, Basis for Inability to Pay, Subsection 2, Household Income at or Below 150 Percent of Federal Poverty Guidelines, [1 USCIS-PM B.4(D)(2)].

[^ 36] Applicants for any immigration benefit associated with or based on a pending or approved petition or application for VAWA benefits or T or U nonimmigrant status do not need to list their spouse as a household member or provide their spouse’s income.

[^ 37] Generally, applicants for any immigration benefit associated with or based on a pending or approved petition or application for VAWA benefits or T or U nonimmigrant status are not rejected for a lack of documentation if the applicant has described the inability to provide the required documentation in sufficient detail and provided any other available documentation. In addition, USCIS does not require SIJs to provide proof of income but does require other documentation for a fee waiver request. See Section D, Basis for Inability to Pay, Subsection 2, Household Income at or Below 150 Percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines [1 USCIS-PM B.4(D)(2)].

[^ 38] See 8 CFR 103.2(a)(7).

[^ 39] See 8 CFR 106.3(c).

Chapter 5 - Interpreters and Preparers

If an interpreter assists the benefit requestor in reading the instructions and questions on a benefit request, the interpreter must provide his or her contact information, sign, and date the benefit request in the section indicated.

If a preparer assists the benefit requestor in completing his or her benefit request, the preparer and any other person who assisted in completing the benefit request must provide their contact information, sign, and date the benefit request in the section indicated.

If the person who helped interpret or prepare the benefit request is an attorney or accredited representative, he or she must determine if the level of involvement and rules of professional responsibility require him or her to submit a signed and completed Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Accredited Representative (Form G-28) with the benefit request. If the person intends to represent the benefit requestor before USCIS, he or she must submit a completed Form G-28. The attorney or accredited representative of the benefit requestor cannot serve as an interpreter during the interview.[1] 

Footnote


[^ 1] Officers cannot make exceptions for good cause.

Chapter 6 - Submitting Requests

A. How to Submit

1. Traditional Mail

Benefit requestors may use traditional mail to file benefit requests involving fees with a USCIS Lockbox.[1] Benefit requestors should refer to the form instructions and the USCIS All Forms webpage for more information on where and how to submit a particular benefit request, and what initial evidence is expected.[2]

Assembling and Submitting Application Package

USCIS recommends that benefit requesters assemble their benefit request packages in the order indicated for that particular benefit.[3]

Application Intake Inquiries

Requestors who have questions or concerns about the intake of a benefit request should route their inquiries as indicated on the USCIS Contact Us webpage. 

2. Electronic Submission

Some USCIS forms are available for submission online. Filing online allows users to: 

  • Set up and manage accounts;
  • Submit benefit requests and supporting documents electronically;
  • Manage and link paper-filed benefits with an online account;
  • Receive and respond to notices and decisions electronically;
  • Make payments online; and
  • Access real-time information about the status of cases.

Information entered electronically in anticipation of filing online is saved for 30 days from the last time a person worked on the request. USCIS cannot accept the benefit request until the person completes the electronic submission process.

If a benefit requestor files a benefit request online, USCIS notifies the person electronically of any notices or decisions. In general, USCIS does not issue paper notices or decisions for electronically-filed benefit requests. However, an online filer may request that USCIS mail paper notices. USCIS may also, in its discretion, decide to issue a paper notice.[4]

B. Intake Processing

Once USCIS receives a benefit request, including an appeal or motion, USCIS assesses whether the request meets the minimum requirements for USCIS to accept it. If all minimum requirements (including submission of initial evidence for intake purposes) for acceptance are not met, USCIS rejects the benefit request for improper filing.[5]

USCIS only begins to adjudicate a benefit request after USCIS accepts the request, processes any required fees, and issues a receipt notice (or date stamp, where applicable) to reflect the date of physical or electronic receipt.[6] USCIS does not consider benefit requests that are rejected to be properly filed.[7]

In order for USCIS to accept a benefit request, a submission must satisfy all applicable acceptance criteria.[8] USCIS generally accepts the request if it contains: 

  • A complete, properly executed form, with a proper signature;
  • The correct fees;[9] and
  • The required initial evidence for intake purposes, as directed by the form instructions.[10]

USCIS rejects benefit requests that do not meet these minimum requirements. Reasons for rejection may include, but are not limited to:

  • Incomplete benefit request;[11]
  • Improper signature or no signature;[12]
  • Use of an outdated version of a USCIS form at time of submission;
  • Principal application error (USCIS cannot process derivative or dependent applications if the related principal application is in error); and
  • Incorrect fee, including missing fees or fees in the wrong amount.[13]

In addition, USCIS rejects benefit requests for an immigrant visa if an immigrant visa is not immediately available to the applicant.[14]

The rejection of a filing with USCIS may not be appealed.[15] However, rejections do not preclude a benefit requestor from resubmitting a corrected benefit request. If the benefit requestor later resubmits a previously rejected but corrected benefit request, USCIS processes the case anew, without prejudice.[16] The rejected case does not retain its original receipt date when resubmitted. 

USCIS requires new fees with any new benefit request; a new filing date also generally applies.[17] 

Effect of Declined or Returned Payment

Filing fees generally are non-refundable regardless of the outcome of the benefit request, or how much time the adjudication requires, and any decision to refund a fee is at the discretion of USCIS.[18]

If the benefit requestor pays a fee by credit card and the credit card is declined for any reason, USCIS does not attempt to process the credit card payment a second time and may reject the associated request for lack of payment.[19]

If a form of payment other than a credit card submitted for payment is returned as not payable because of insufficient funds, USCIS re-submits the payment to the remitter institution one time.[20] If the form of payment is returned as non-payable a second time, USCIS may reject or deny the benefit request as improperly filed and the receipt date is forfeited.[21]

USCIS does not resubmit payments returned as unpayable for a reason other than insufficient funds.[22] A rejection of a filing with USCIS may not be appealed.[23]

Returned Payment for an Underlying Petition

If a dishonored payment rejection occurs on an underlying petition that is accompanied by other filings that are dependent on the filing that is rejected, such as an Immigrant Petition for an Alien Worker (Form I-140) concurrently filed with an Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status (Form I-485), even though the other filings’ fees may be honored, USCIS administratively closes the dependent filings and refunds the fees. 

Returned Payment for Premium Processing Service Requests

If a premium processing fee for a Request for Premium Processing Service (Form I-907) is declined or returned when it is filed at the same time as a Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker (Form I-129) or Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers (Form I-140), USCIS rejects the entire filing.

If USCIS has approved the petition and any fee, including one fee of a multiple fee filing, is declined or returned, USCIS may revoke the approval upon notice. 

In this case, USCIS issues a Notice of Intent to Revoke (NOIR) to the requestor. If the requestor does not rectify the declined or returned payment within the requisite NOIR time period, USCIS revokes the approval and retains (and does not refund) any fee that was honored in association with the approval.

For example, if the Form I-907 fee is declined or returned after USCIS approves an associated Form I-140, USCIS revokes the Form I-140 approval (assuming the NOIR time period has passed without sufficient response). USCIS then retains the Form I-140 fee, administratively closes the Form I-485, and refunds the Form I-485 fee.

Response to a NOIR

If USCIS has approved the petition and any fee, including one fee of a multiple fee filing, is declined or returned, USCIS may revoke, rescind, or cancel the approval. In this case, USCIS issues a NOIR to the requestor.[24] If the approved benefit request requires multiple fees, approval may be revoked if any fee submitted is not honored. USCIS does not refund other fees that were paid for an approved benefit request that is revoked because of a declined or returned fee payment.[25]

To sufficiently respond to a NOIR, the requestor must, within the requisite NOIR time period, provide payment of the correct fee amount or demonstrate that the payment was honored or that it was rejected by USCIS by mistake.[26] If USCIS issues a NOIR and the request does not return sufficient evidence to reinstate the case to pending status, then USCIS reopens and denies the request. 

USCIS then sends a notice to the requestor informing them that USCIS has revoked the approval and denied the benefit request. In contrast with the rejection of a filing, a revocation of an approval due to a declined or returned fee may be appealed to the USCIS Administrative Appeals Office.[27] All revocation notices instruct the requestor on how they may appeal the revocation or denial due to a declined or returned payment.[28]

If USCIS does not have the authority to revoke or reopen and deny the benefit request, USCIS annotates the file to indicate that USCIS never received payment and notifies the benefit requestor of the payment deficiency. USCIS then notifies the applicant or petitioner that there is a payment deficiency. The officer should also request local counsel assess the applicant’s actions and intentions and assist in determining the appropriate next steps on a per case basis.  

If USCIS already denied or revoked the benefit request for other reasons, or determined that the requestor abandoned the benefit request, the existence of a declined or returned payment does not affect that decision. USCIS pursues collection of all payment deficiencies, regardless of the outcome of adjudication.

C. Date of Receipt

USCIS considers a benefit request “received” on the date it is physically or electronically received. This date is also known as the submission or filing date,[29] and is listed on the receipt notice, or the date stamp (where applicable), issued by USCIS. Requestors may only obtain a date of receipt or filing date if their submission is accepted at the proper location, as designated on the USCIS All Forms webpage. USCIS does not assign a date of receipt or filing date to benefit requests that are rejected.[30]

The date of receipt may impact eligibility for immigration benefits. For example, USCIS uses the date of receipt to determine whether an appeal, Application for Temporary Protected Status (Form I-821), or Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker (Form I-129) should be rejected for failure to timely file or because an annual numerical limit has been reached.

The date of receipt may also be significant for purposes of seeking lawful permanent residence; the filing date is referred to as the priority date for an approved immigrant visa petition in certain preference categories.[31] For approved petitions in preference categories that are not current, the priority date dictates how soon the beneficiary may file for permanent residence. Similarly, the filing date establishes the statutory period for various benefits, including naturalization.

D. Filing Periods Ending on Weekends or Federal Holidays

Benefit requestors must file a benefit request within the period for filing, if applicable, as prescribed by statute, regulation, and form instructions. This includes filing with USCIS before a certain time period ends or event occurs, such as before a period of lawful status ends or an individual reaches a certain age. For example, petitioners for special immigrant juvenile classification must file a Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant (Form I-360) before their 21st birthday.[32] As another example, principal refugees and asylees seeking to request follow-to-join immigration benefits for qualifying family members must file a Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition (Form I-730) for each member within 2 years of the refugee’s admission to the United States as a refugee or the asylee’s grant of asylum.[33]

USCIS does not accept paper-based applications or petitions on Saturdays, Sundays, or federal holidays.[34] Therefore, when the last day of the filing period for a paper benefit request falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or federal holiday, USCIS applies the regulatory definition of day[35] and extends the deadline for filing until the end of the next business day that is not a Saturday, Sunday, or federal holiday.[36] In these situations, while the receipt date will continue to reflect the date USCIS physically received the request, USCIS considers the benefit request to have been timely filed.[37]

The determination of whether a benefit request was timely submitted is not a criterion for acceptance; rather, it is part of the eligibility determination for the benefit request that an officer makes at the time of adjudication. Therefore, USCIS does not reject filings at intake due to missed deadlines.

USCIS considers electronically submitted benefit requests to be received immediately upon submission. Therefore, electronic filings are not affected by the fact that USCIS does not accept deliveries on Saturdays, Sundays, or federal holidays, and USCIS does not apply the regulatory definition of day to extend the filing period for benefit requests filed electronically.[38]

Footnotes


[^ 1] Registration for Classification as a Refugee (Form I-590) must be completed with the assistance of the Resettlement Support Center (RSC) staff overseas after a referral to the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP), and cannot be completed independently by a benefit requestor. As such, any information in this section regarding submitting or filing a benefit request does not apply to Form I-590. For more information, see the Refugees USCIS web page.

[^ 2] See 8 CFR 103.2(b)(8)(ii). A benefit requestor may need to provide additional evidence to establish eligibility for the benefit sought at the time of an interview or in response to a Request for Evidence (RFE).

[^ 3] For tips on filing applications with USCIS, see General Tips on Assembling Applications for Mailing and Lockbox Facility Filing Tips.  

[^ 4] See 8 CFR 103.2(b)(19)(ii)(B).

[^ 5] See 8 CFR 103.2.

[^ 6] See Section C, Date of Receipt [1 USCIS-PM B.6(C)].

[^ 7] See 8 CFR 103.2(a)(7).

[^ 8] See 8 CFR 103.2(a). Other regulations in Title 8 of the CFR may impose filing requirements specific to the request type.

[^ 9] See 8 CFR 106.2 and 8 CFR 106.3. See Fee Schedule (Form G-1055). For additional information on fee waivers, see Chapter 4, Fee Waivers and Fee Exemptions [1 USCIS-PM B.4].

[^ 10] For example, family-based or employment-based adjustment of status categories where an Affidavit of Support (Form I-864), if required, is submitted with the Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status (Form I-485).

[^ 11] See 8 CFR 103.2(b)(1). Each benefit request must be properly completed and filed with all initial evidence required by applicable regulations and other USCIS instructions. Benefit requestors can determine which fields are required based on the form type and form instructions.

[^ 12] See 8 CFR 103.2(a)(2).

[^ 13] See 8 CFR 103.2(a).

[^ 14] See 8 CFR 245.2(a)(2)(i). For more information, see Volume 7, Adjustment of Status, Part A, Adjustment of Status Policies and Procedures, Chapter 3, Filing Instructions, Section B, Definition of Properly Filed, Subsection 4, Visa Availability Requirement [7 USCIS-PM A.3(B)(4)].

[^ 15] See 8 CFR 103.2(a)(7)(iii).

[^ 16] USCIS treats the benefit request as if the requestor had not previously submitted it.

[^ 17] Some exceptions may apply. For example, see Volume 7, Adjustment of Status, Part A, Adjustment of Status Policies and Procedures, Chapter 6, Adjudicative Review, Section C, Verify Visa Availability, Subsection 3, Priority dates [7 USCIS-PM A.6(C)(3)]. See 8 CFR 204.2(h).

[^ 18] See 8 CFR 103.2(a).

[^ 19] See 8 CFR 103.2(a)(7)(ii)(D)(3).

[^ 20] See 8 CFR 103.2(a)(7)(ii)(D)(2).

[^ 21] See 8 CFR 103.2(a)(7)(ii)(D)(3).

[^ 22] See 8 CFR 103.2(a)(7)(ii)(D)(3).

[^ 23] See 8 CFR 103.2(a)(7)(iii).

[^ 24] See 8 CFR 205.2.

[^ 25] See 8 CFR 106.1(c)(2).

[^ 26] Otherwise, USCIS considers the requestor to have failed to file the required fees. See 8 CFR 103.2(a)(1).

[^ 27] In accordance with 8 CFR 103.3 and the applicable form instructions.

[^ 28] See 8 CFR 103.3.

[^ 29] The Registration for Classification as Refugee (Form I-590 (PDF, 696.08 KB)) is deemed filed on the date of interview with the USCIS refugee officer. USCIS does not apply a date stamp and does not issue a receipt notice.

[^ 30] See 8 CFR 103.2(a)(7)(ii).

[^ 31] For more information, see Volume 7, Adjustment of Status, Part A, Adjustment of Status Policies and Procedures, Chapter 6, Adjudicative Review, Section C, Verify Visa Availability, Subsection 3, Priority Dates [7 USCIS-PM A.6(C)(3)] and the USCIS’ webpage on Visa Availability and Priority Dates.

[^ 32] See 8 CFR 204.11(b)(1).

[^ 33] See 8 CFR 207.7(d) and 8 CFR. 208.21(d).

[^ 34] See the U.S. Office of Personnel Management’s website for a list of federal holidays.

[^ 35] See 8 CFR 1.2 (“when computing the period of time for taking any action provided in this chapter including the taking of an appeal, shall include Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays, except that when the last day of the period computed falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or a legal holiday, the period shall run until the end of the next day which is not a Saturday, Sunday, or a legal holiday.”). For example, in the case of an individual who applies for adjustment of status on the basis of eligibility as a T or U nonimmigrant, if the last day before the expiration date of T or U nonimmigrant status occurs on a Saturday, Sunday, or federal holiday, the applicant has until the end of the next business day after the Saturday, Sunday, or federal holiday for USCIS to physically receive their properly filed and receipted application. See 8 CFR 103.2(a)(7)(ii) (properly filed and receipted), 8 CFR 245.24(b)(2)(ii) (pertaining to U nonimmigrant eligibility for adjustment of status) and 8 CFR 245.23(a)(2)(ii) (pertaining to T nonimmigrant eligibility for adjustment of status).

[^ 36] The definitions in 8 CFR 1.2 generally apply to all benefit requests in 8 CFR Chapter I unless the statutes or regulations for the specific benefit request contain provisions that supersede those definitions. Certain immigration benefits, such as asylum applications, are governed by different regulations and procedures regarding Requests for Evidence, Notices of Intent to Deny, denials, and terminations. Therefore, the guidance in this Part does not apply to those immigration benefits governed by different regulations. For example, 8 CFR 1.2 does not apply to calculating the 1-year filing deadline for asylum, because it is superseded by 8 CFR 208.4(a)(2).

[^ 37] As provided under 8 CFR 103.2(a)(7)(i).

[^ 38] Regulations at 8 CFR 103.2(a)(7)(i) state, “USCIS will consider a benefit request received and will record the receipt date as of the actual date of receipt at the location designated for filing such benefit request whether electronically or in paper format.” In addition, see Volume 1, General Policies and Procedures, Part B, Submission of Benefit Requests, Chapter 6, Submitting Requests, Section A, How to Submit [1 USCIS PM B.6(A)].

Part C - Biometrics Collection and Security Checks

In May 2020, USCIS retired its Adjudicator’s Field Manual (AFM), a collection of our immigration policies and procedures.

In May 2020, USCIS retired its Adjudicator’s Field Manual (AFM), a collection of our immigration policies and procedures. We are working quickly to update and incorporate all of the AFM content into the USCIS Policy Manual, the agency’s centralized online repository for immigration policies. Until then, we have moved any remaining AFM content to its corresponding Policy Manual Part. To the extent that a provision in the Policy Manual conflicts with remaining AFM content or Policy Memoranda, the updated information in the Policy Manual prevails. If you have questions or concerns about any discrepancies among these resources, contact PolicyFeedback@uscis.dhs.gov.

AFM Chapter 10 - An Overview of the Adjudication Process (External) (PDF, 2.43 MB)

Chapter 1 - Purpose and Background

A. Purpose

As part of its administration of immigration benefits, USCIS has the general authority to require and collect biometrics, which include fingerprints, photographs, and digital signatures, from any person[1] seeking any immigration or naturalization benefit or request.[2]

B. Background

Biometrics collection allows USCIS to verify a person’s identity, produce secure documents, and facilitate required criminal and national security background checks to protect national security and public safety, as well as to ensure that the person is eligible for the benefit sought. Biometrics collection and security checks enhance national security and protect the integrity of the immigration process by ensuring that USCIS only grants benefits to eligible requestors.

In addition, depending on the particular application, petition, or request filed, USCIS conducts security checks, which may include conducting fingerprint-based background checks, requesting a name check from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and other DHS or inter-agency security checks.

USCIS promotes national security and public safety by conducting screening and vetting in all immigration programs. Screening and vetting standards include those needed for identity verification, which is crucial to protect against fraud and help USCIS determine if a person is eligible to receive an immigration benefit. Historically, USCIS collected biometrics (including photographs) for background and security checks. Presently, biometrics are also stored and used to verify a person’s identity in subsequent encounters with DHS.

C. Legal Authorities

Footnotes


[^ 1] The term person includes any applicant, petitioner, beneficiary, sponsor, derivative, requestor, or person filing or associated with a benefit request.

[^ 2] The term biometrics refers to “the measurable biological (anatomical and physiological) or behavioral characteristics of a natural person, including the person’s fingerprints, photograph, or signature.”

Chapter 2 - Biometrics Collection

A. Biometric Services Appointments

After a person files an application, petition, or other benefit request, USCIS may schedule a biometric services appointment at a local Application Support Center (ASC).[1] The appointment notice indicates the date, time, and location of the appointment. The person submitting biometrics should bring the appointment notice and valid, unexpired photo identification (for example, Permanent Resident Card (Form I-551), passport, or driver’s license), or other identity documentation[2] as authorized by USCIS to the appointment.

USCIS considers a person to have abandoned an application, petition, or request if the person fails to appear for the biometric services appointment unless, by the appointment time, USCIS receives a change of address or rescheduling request that it concludes warrants excusing the failure to appear.[3] 

1. Timely Requests to Reschedule

Benefit requestors[4] who need to reschedule a biometric services appointment should follow the instructions provided in the appointment notice. USCIS only accepts rescheduling requests made through a myUSCIS online account or to the USCIS Contact Center and does not accept requests to reschedule submitted by mail or in person at a USCIS office.[5]

An authorized representative with a properly filed Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Accredited Representative (Form G-28) may also request to reschedule an appointment on behalf of their client through a myUSCIS online account or the USCIS Contact Center.

Any person required to appear for a biometric services appointment may, before the scheduled date and time, request that USCIS reschedule the appointment for good cause.[6] For the purposes of determining whether to grant a biometric services appointment reschedule request, good cause exists when the benefit requestor provides a sufficient reason for their inability to appear on the scheduled date.

Sufficient reasons may include, but are not limited to:

  • Illness, medical appointment, or hospitalization;
  • Previously planned travel;
  • Significant life events such as a wedding, funeral, or graduation ceremony;
  • Inability to obtain transportation to the appointment location;
  • Inability to obtain leave from employment or caregiver responsibilities; and
  • Late delivered or undelivered biometric services appointment notice.[7]

2. Missed Biometric Services Appointments[8]

In accordance with regulations, USCIS considers a benefit request abandoned and denied[9] if the benefit requestor fails to appear for a biometric services appointment unless, by the appointment time, USCIS receives a notice of a change of address or a request to reschedule the appointment that USCIS concludes warrants excusing the failure to appear.[10]

Applicants who have filed an Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal (Form I-589) who fail to comply with fingerprint processing without good cause will not have their applications denied for abandonment. Instead, USCIS may dismiss[11] the asylum application if the applicant is in lawful immigration status or paroled, or refer the application to an immigration judge if the applicant is not in lawful immigration status or paroled.

Timely Notice of Change of Address

Before USCIS denies a benefit request for abandonment, USCIS reviews the record of proceeding and relevant systems for evidence of a notice of a change of address.[12] USCIS reschedules the biometric services appointment when a change of address is received by the appointment time.

Timely Request to Reschedule

Before denying for abandonment, USCIS reviews the record of proceeding and relevant systems for reschedule requests. USCIS reschedules the biometric services appointment when the benefit requestor submits, by the appointment time, a request to reschedule and provides a sufficient reason for the inability to appear.[13]

Untimely Request to Reschedule

A benefit request is considered abandoned and is denied when a requestor fails to appear for a biometric services appointment and USCIS has not received a rescheduling request by the appointment time.[14] However, notwithstanding the regulation and based on case law, agencies have some latitude to relax procedural rules adopted for the orderly transaction of business if justice so requires under the circumstances.[15]

Therefore, when a benefit requestor submits a request to reschedule the appointment after the appointment date has passed, and if the benefit request remains pending, USCIS may, in its discretion and based on the applicant’s circumstances, consider whether the benefit request has been abandoned. In considering abandonment and whether the officer should exercise discretion to reschedule based on the applicant’s circumstances, USCIS reviews such factors as:

  • The length of time between the missed appointment and the reschedule request;
  • Whether the benefit requestor has a sufficient reason[16] for failing to appear; and
  • Whether a denial would cause undue hardship or expense.

USCIS only accepts untimely rescheduling requests made to the USCIS Contact Center and does not accept untimely requests to reschedule by mail or in person at a USCIS office or through the myUSCIS online rescheduling tool.

No Evidence of Change of Address or Request to Reschedule

USCIS considers a benefit request abandoned if the requestor fails to appear for a biometric services appointment and there is no evidence of a change of address or a request to reschedule.[17]

When USCIS denies an application for abandonment, USCIS notifies the requestor and the authorized representative, as appropriate, of the decision in writing.[18] The priority or processing date of an abandoned benefit request may not be applied to a later benefit request.[19]

B. Mobile Biometrics Collection

Mobile biometrics collection refers to a service USCIS provides in which the agency collects biometrics (for example, fingerprints and photographs, etc.) from persons with pending benefit requests (including derivatives, beneficiaries, or both), at pre-determined locations outside of an ASC. Mobile biometrics collection is typically performed by USCIS employees or contractors.[20] USCIS has sole discretion to conduct mobile biometrics collection.[21]

USCIS may provide domestic mobile biometric services to persons with a disability or health reason that prevents them from appearing in person at an ASC.[22] In very limited circumstances, USCIS may, in its sole discretion, provide domestic mobile biometric services to other benefit requestors who are unable to attend scheduled ASC appointments in person.[23]

Remote Locations

USCIS may, in its sole discretion and on a case-by-case basis, provide mobile biometrics collection services to persons residing in remote locations within the United States who are unable to attend scheduled ASC appointments in person.

When determining whether to exercise its discretion after a request for mobile biometrics collection, USCIS considers circumstances such as the difficulty of travel, the distance a person must travel to an ASC, and efficient use of USCIS resources. If USCIS can provide mobile biometric services, USCIS will inform the person.

Persons in Custody

USCIS does not grant requests to collect biometrics from persons in custody at correctional institutions. USCIS officers and contract staff therefore do not travel to jails, prisons, or similar non-DHS detention facilities to perform biometric collections for any detained or incarcerated persons (including applicants, petitioners, beneficiaries, derivatives, sponsors, or other requestors, regardless of their immigration status or country of citizenship). In the case of an incarcerated person, USCIS officers must continue to follow all applicable regulations and procedures in issuing ASC notices to those whose appearance is required for biometrics collection. Per intradepartmental agreement, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Enforcement and Removal Operations is responsible for completing background and security checks for those who are incarcerated at DHS facilities and applying for benefits with USCIS.

USCIS generally does not approve requests to reschedule a biometrics appointment for reason of detention or incarceration. The person must follow the procedures listed in the biometrics appointment notice to request their appointment be rescheduled.[24]

C. Fingerprint Waivers

A person may qualify for a waiver of the fingerprint requirement if he or she is unable to provide fingerprints because of a medical condition,[25] including but not limited to disability, birth defects, physical deformities, skin conditions, and psychiatric conditions.[26] Only certain USCIS employees are authorized to grant a fingerprint waiver.

A USCIS employee responsible for overseeing a person’s fingerprinting may grant the waiver if all of the following requirements are met:

  • The applicant, petitioner, beneficiary, sponsor, derivative, requestor, or individual person filing or associated with a benefit request appeared in person for the biometrics collection;
  • ​The officer or authorized technician attempted to fingerprint the person (or determined that such an attempt was impossible); and
  • ​The officer determines that the person is unable to be fingerprinted at all or is unable to provide a single legible fingerprint.

A USCIS employee should not grant a waiver if the waiver is solely based on the following situations:

  • The person has fewer than 10 fingers;
  • The officer considers the person’s fingerprints as unclassifiable; or
  • ​The person’s condition preventing the fingerprint collection is temporary.

If a fingerprint waiver is granted, the waiver is valid only for the particular application(s), petition(s), or benefit request(s) listed on the ASC notice for which biometrics are collected. The person must request a fingerprint waiver for each individual application, petition, or benefit request subsequently filed if the subsequent filing has a biometrics collection requirement.

A person who is granted a fingerprint waiver must bring local police clearance letters or other form-specific documentation[27] covering the relevant periods to the interview. All clearance letters become part of the record. In cases where the person is granted a fingerprint waiver or has two unclassifiable fingerprint results, USCIS must take a sworn statement from the person covering the relevant periods.

USCIS’ decision to deny a fingerprint waiver is final and may not be appealed.

D. Biometrics Collected [Partially Reserved]

[Partially Reserved]

1. Fingerprints [Reserved]

[Reserved]

2. Photographs

USCIS imbeds a photograph when creating secure documents as a security feature.[28] There are instances where USCIS requires a photograph be submitted with an application, petition, or request in order to create a secure document and the application, petition, or request does not have an associated biometrics collection requirement.[29] Where the applicant, petitioner, or requestor fails to submit a photograph at time of filing, USCIS may issue a Request for Evidence.

3. Signatures [Reserved]

[Reserved]

Footnotes


[^ 1] See 8 CFR 103.2(b)(9). For benefit requestors residing outside of the United States, USCIS may schedule biometrics collection at a USCIS office abroad, at a U.S. embassy or consulate, or at a U.S. military installation abroad. See 8 CFR 103.16. An exception to the requirement to collect new biometrics exists in the case of military naturalization. For military naturalization cases, a biometric background check must be performed, but USCIS may use previously collected fingerprints from a different immigration filing or may use fingerprints collected as part of enlistment processing to perform the check. For more information relating to biometrics collection for military members, see Volume 12, Citizenship and Naturalization, Part I, Military Members and their Families, Chapter 6, Required Background Checks, Section C, Ways Service Members may Meet Fingerprint Requirement [12 USCIS-PM I.6(C)].

[^ 2] Some noncitizens classified as special immigrant juvenile (SIJs) may not have government-issued photo identification. In this situation, USCIS may accept as evidence of identity a court-issued order citing the SIJ as the subject of the order, or official documentation issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for unaccompanied children who are or have been in the custody of HHS. For more information on how to prepare for a biometric services appointment, see the Preparing for Your Biometric Services Appointment webpage.

[^ 3] See 8 CFR 103.2(b)(13)(ii).

[^ 4] For purposes of this Policy Manual part, the term requestor means any applicant, petitioner, sponsor, beneficiary, or individual filing a benefit request. See 8 CFR 103.2(b)(9).

[^ 5] For more information on rescheduling a biometric services appointment, see the Preparing for Your Biometric Services Appointment webpage.

[^ 6] See 8 CFR 103.2(b)(9)(ii). A benefit requestor may also appear at the ASC before the scheduled date or withdraw the benefit request. See 8 CFR 103.2(b)(9