USCIS Updates 2020-2021: RFE Response Flexibility Extended, Interview, and Biometrics Waivers

Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick provides a few new immigration updates regarding flexibility for request for evidence responses, adjustment of status interview waivers, and biometrics appointment waivers.

Want to know more? Keep on watching for more information.


Overview


Extended Flexibility for Responses to Request for Evidence

USCIS recently extended its flexibility policy for applicants who need more time to respond to a request for evidence, notice of intent to deny, and other such related notices.

Applicants who receive any of the below mentioned documents dated between March 1, 2020 and January 31, 2020 are given 60 additional days (after the response deadline indicated) to respond to the request or notice:

  • Requests for Evidence;
  • Continuations to Request Evidence (N-14);
  • Notices of Intent to Deny;
  • Notices of Intent to Revoke;
  • Notices of Intent to Rescind and Notices of Intent to Terminate regional investment centers;
  • Filing date requirements for Form N-336, Request for a Hearing on a Decision in Naturalization Proceedings (Under Section 336 of the INA); or
  • Filing date requirements for Form I-290B, Notice of Appeal or Motion.

This flexibility has been granted by USCIS in order to allow applicants sufficient time to gather documentation that may not be readily available as a result of the global pandemic.


Adjustment of Status Interview Waivers

USCIS recently posted updated discretionary criteria that officers use to determine, on a case by case basis, whether an interview is necessary for refugees & asylees applying for lawful permanent resident status.

The guidance states that the decision to interview a refugee applicant for adjustment of status is made on a case-by-case basis. As a general matter, interviews are required when an officer is unable to verify identity or determine admissibility based solely on the immigration records available to the officer. While the decision to conduct an interview is made on a case-by-case basis, CIS policies require an officer to generally refer a case for interview if it meets one or more of the following criteria:

  • The officer cannot verify the identity of the applicant through the information in the A-File.
  • The officer can verify the identity of the applicant through the information in the A-File, but the applicant is claiming a new identity.
  • Immigration records are insufficient for the officer to determine whether or not the applicant has refugee status.
  • The applicant has an approved Form I-730, but, if granted overseas, was not interviewed as part of the derivative refugee process or, if granted in the United States, was not interviewed prior to the approval.
  • The applicant’s Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) fingerprint results indicate that further processing is needed.
  • The officer cannot determine the applicant’s admissibility without an interview.
  • The officer determines that the applicant is inadmissible but that an interview is necessary to determine if a waiver is appropriate.
  • The applicant has an articulable national security or terrorism-related ground of inadmissibility concern.
  • Other eligibility fraud, identified on a case-by case basis, where Fraud Detection and National Security (FDNS), Center Fraud Detection Operations (CFDO), or Background Check Units (BCU) recommends interview.
  • Immigration records are insufficient for the officer to determine whether or not the applicant is inadmissible based on past or current placement in removal proceedings at any time.
  • The applicant has conflicting or multiple identities, other than properly documented by legal name changes.
  • A sworn statement is required to address the applicant’s admissibility.
  • An interview would yield clarifying information, such as with an unclear response to a request for evidence concerning the applicant’s admissibility.
  • The applicant is a citizen of, or last habitually resided in, a country that is now, or was at the time of last residence, a State Sponsor of Terrorism.
  • The officer has any other articulable concern regarding identity, inadmissibility, national security, public safety, or fraud, and recommends an interview to help resolve that concern.

If any of these factors are not present, the CIS officer may on a case by case basis decide to forgo the interview requirement.


Biometrics Waivers

As a result of the backlogs caused by the pandemic biometrics appointments have been delayed significantly. Presumably in an effort to ease these backlogs, during the past few months, USCIS has been “waiving” biometrics appointments in situations where the agency has previously captured an alien’s biometrics. This has been frequently occurring with respect to I-765 Applications for Employment Authorization. Although there is no official policy recognizing such waiver, our office has been seeing this happen time and time again.


Questions? If you have immigration questions and would like to schedule a consultation, please call 619-819-9204 or text 619-483-4549. Our toll free number is 866-488-1554.


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