Blog by Pasricha & Patel, LLC

Policy Updates Regarding Family-Based Immigrant Visas

Categories: Attorneys , Citizenship , Law Firm , Lawyers , Legal Services

Beginning on May 22, 2024, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced a new update in the USCIS Policy Manual regarding family-based immigrant petitions. This policy update explains how USCIS handles correcting errors for approval notices, requests for consular processing or adjustment of status on the beneficiary’s behalf, and correct routing of procedures for approved petitions.

The update outlines that if you are a petitioner submitting Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, then USCIS must be informed of the beneficiary's current address and what action the beneficiary would like to take, whether that is consular processing with the Department of State National Visa Center (NVC) or adjustment of status in the United States, if eligible. Providing this information allows for USCIS to determine if the approved petition is sufficient to keep for adjustment of status processing or if the petition needs to be sent to the NVC for consular processing. Providing inaccurate information on the petition can cause delays in the immigrant visa or adjustment of status process.

Before this guidance was issued, USCIS generally kept approved petitions that did not explicitly state whether the beneficiary was opting for adjustment of status or consular processing. By providing the beneficiary’s preference for consular processing or adjustment of status, this guidance clarifies procedures for family-based immigration petition as well as highlights USCIS’ desire to provide a more efficient processing system.

Additionally, with this update, USCIS explains that if it is not clearly indicated whether the beneficiary intends to pursue consular processing or adjustment of status, it will be up to USCIS’ discretion to decide whether to send the approved petition to the NVC for consular processing or keep the petition for adjustment of status processing.

Furthermore, the policy update explains the necessary steps to take and contact USCIS in order to correct an error or update a pending or approved Form I-130. The petitioner can request a corrected notice from USCIS if the approval notice includes missing information, such as the correct priority date or the proper section of the law with the beneficiary’s designated immigration classification; or has a mistake because of USCIS error.

If the mistake found is related to the beneficiary’s classification, the consular officer who is adjudicating the visa application may return the petition to apply the corrective action. To prevent such errors and subsequently any delays, the petitioners should double-check that the information provided in the petition is correct and notify USCIS of any changes or corrections needed.

USCIS also outlines a general guidance on how a petition is approved or denied. If the petitioner properly files the petition in accordance with the form instructions and meets the eligibility requirements, then USCIS must approve the petition. “Generally, there is no discretionary analysis as part of the adjudication of a family-based immigrant petition, and USCIS cannot deny these petitions as a matter of discretion.”

The hope is that USCIS uses these policy updates to continue to create a more streamlined process for individuals to gain access to their immigration benefits. This policy update is an example of that hope. As this update is subject to further developments, we encourage our readers to check our website regularly for updates on this and other matters related to immigration law.