USCIS Policy Update: Expedited Processing, Employment Authorization Documents & More

New policy updates have been added to the USCIS Policy Manual with the aim of:

  1. Shedding light on expedited processing, its criteria and the circumstances surrounding it;
  2. Improving guidance when it comes to the request for evidence (RFE) and notice of intent to deny (NOID);
  3. Increasing the validity period for initial and renewal employment authorization documents (EADs) for certain noncitizens who have pending adjustment of status applications.

Expedited Processing

USCIS considers expedited processing for benefit requestors who need their request for immigration benefits adjudicated sooner than usual. These requests are reviewed on a case-by-case basis by USCIS. For noncitizens with a final order of removal or noncitizens in removal proceedings, expedited requests are coordinated between USCIS and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

According to the updates, additional guidance will be provided to benefit requestors and USCIS officers on the criteria and circumstances that may warrant expedited processing. In addition, nonprofit organizations may request that a benefit be considered for expedited processing as long as their request advances the United States’ cultural and social interests. This applies even if premium processing is available for that benefit.

Requests for Evidence and Notices of Intent to Deny

Requests for evidence (RFE) and notices of intent to deny (NOID) are requests and notices issued by USCIS to petitioners and applicants for immigration benefits, for example permanent residency, citizenship and family/employment visas.

Request for Evidence (RFE):

A request for evidence (RFE) is basically a request for more documentation because the USCIS officer reviewing the application needs more information before they can make a decision.

Notices of Intent to Deny (NOID):

A notice of Intent to deny (NOID) is a notice issued after the USCIS officer reviewing the application concludes that there is not enough information or evidence to approve or deny the application.

In 2018, agency officers were allowed to deny an immigration benefit request instead of issuing a request for evidence (RFE) or a notice of intent to deny (NOID). USCIS is now going back to the 2013 policy that required agency officers to send an RFE or NOID in cases where additional evidence could potentially indicate eligibility for an immigration benefit.

So what does this mean for benefit requestors now? It simply means that from now on, if they make innocent mistakes or forget to add anything unintentionally, they can usually correct everything instead of receiving a denial.

Employment Authorization Documents

Typically, after applying for adjustment of status, applicants are not allowed to work in the United States while waiting for a decision, unless they apply for employment authorization.

The employment authorization documents (EADs) that applicants used to get had a validity period of only one year. Based on the recent update, this validity period, on both initial and renewal EADs, will be changed to two years. This decision was made because of the ongoing processing delays that are affecting the adjudication of adjustment of status applications.

However, this will not affect replacement EADs. USCIS will keep issuing replacement EADs with the same validity dates as the original one.

3 Key Takeaways

The 3 main things to keep in mind about the new policy updates in the USCIS policy manual are the following:

  1. The criteria and circumstances related to expedited processing will be clarified for benefit requestors and USCIS officers through additional guidance.
  2. USCIS officers will issue an RFE or NOID if they conclude that additional information or explanation may potentially prove eligibility for an immigration benefit.
  3. USCIS will now issue initial and renewal EADs that are valid for two years instead of one.

Return to list of blog posts