USCIS Validity Period Update For Form I-693, Report Of Medical Examination And Vaccination Record

USCIS is revising its policy guidance for Form I-693 Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record effective November 1, 2018.

Federal statutes and regulations do not prescribe the validity period of Form I-693. USCIS has historically established it and is now updating the validity period in order to enhance operational efficiencies and more closely tie the validity of the form to the underlying application. Officers still have the discretion to request a new I-693 if they have reason to believe an applicant may be inadmissible on health-related grounds.

Essentially this policy retains the two year policy that existed but recalculates the determination of the validity period. The old policy allowed a Form I-693 to be valid for one year from the date of the civil surgeon signing prior to the submission of the immigrant petition and then one year from the date of the filing of the immigration petition. With increasing processing times, the prior forms would become invalid during the adjudication period resulting in the request for a new Form and additional processing time.

The updated policy, effective November 1, 2018, will require applicants to submit a Form I-693 that is signed by a civil surgeon no more than 60 days prior to the filing of the underlying immigrant petition. The Form I-693 would then remain valid for two years following the date the civil surgeon signed it.

For those Form I-693s submitted to USCIS prior to November 1, 2018:
1) If the civil surgeon signed it more than 60 days but less than one year prior to its submission to USCIS, the validity period will be one year from the date of submission to USCIS.
2) If the civil surgeon signed it within 60 days of the filing of the underlying immigrant petition, the Form will be valid for two years from the date of civil surgeon’s signature.
3) If the form was submitted to USCIS after the filing of the immigrant petition, the Form will be valid for two years from the date of civil surgeon’s signature.

An applicant may submit Form I-693 concurrently with the adjustment of status (Form I-485) application or at any time after the filing of the adjustment of status application (Form I-485) with the USCIS, including bringing it to a USCIS interview or providing it upon the issuance of an RFE.

USCIS Updates Policy on RFE/NOID

In June 2013, the USCIS provided guidance to adjudicators on the USCIS policy on issuing RFEs and NOIDs when the evidence submitted at the time of filing does not establish eligibility. It stated that an adjudicator should issue an RFE unless there is no possibility that any additional evidence would cure the filing. This granted officers greater liberty to offer individuals a second chance instead of straight denial especially for those individuals who are not represented by immigration counsel and may have omitted documents in the filing. However, statutory denials were warranted where the benefit is not clearly there (i.e. Petitioner is a green card holder and is sponsoring his/her parent or sibling for a green card – no statutory basis for qualification).

The prior guidance limited an adjudicators ability to adjudicate based on the record. This opened the door for adjudicators to request documents to “cure” the application and afforded individuals the opportunity to provide additional evidence.

Effective September 11, 2018, USCIS guidance rescinds the “no possibility” rule and allows adjudicators to deny applications without first issuing an RFE or a NOID. The new policy is to discourage frivolous filings or incomplete filings and requires individuals/petitioners to ensure filings are complete. The new rule is not intended to penalize innocent mistakes or misunderstandings of evidentiary requirements. For example, if an H-1B is filed without a certified LCA, typically they would issue an RFE. Now under this guidance, the H-1B petition could be denied as an LCA could be considered “initial evidence”. Another example is where a green card filing requires a specific form and the supplemental form is not included (i.e. Form I-485J).

Therefore, the new rule is not so new, as USCIS has always had the ability to deny without an RFE. This announcement just confirms they will operate accordingly more often to save resources wasted by frivolous filings. This “new rule” does not affect the way companies or CPG files petitions with the USCIS as our petitions are complete. The USCIS will still continue to issue RFE’s for specialty occupation, Level 1, if new information is discovered from USCIS own internal checks, maintenance of status, etc.

The update is found here: https://www.uscis.gov/news/news-releases/uscis-updates-policy-guidance-certain-requests-evidence-and-notices-intent-deny

Supreme Court Upholds Travel Ban

On June 25, 2018, the Supreme Court upheld the Administration’s travel ban issued last September. The ban places indefinite limitations on travel for impacted foreign nationals from eight countries: Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen. The Court held that the travel restrictions are within the President’s broad powers to suspend the entry of foreign nationals and that laws prohibiting nationality-based discrimination do not limit the President’s power to determine who may enter the U.S. Consequently, the court held that such entry would be detrimental to the national interest, as the travel restrictions are consistent with U.S. national security objectives.

Travel Restrictions

Nationals of the restricted countries will remain subject to the following U.S. travel limitations, unless otherwise exempt or granted a waiver:
· Iran: No nonimmigrant visas except F/M student visas and J exchange visitor visas; no immigrant or diversity lottery visas.
· Libya: No B-1, B-2 or B-1/B-2 visitor visas; no immigrant or diversity lottery visas.
· North Korea: No nonimmigrant, immigrant or diversity lottery visas.
· Somalia: Nonimmigrant visa applicants subject to heightened scrutiny; no immigrant or diversity visas.
· Syria: No nonimmigrant, immigrant or diversity lottery visas.
· Venezuela: No B-1, B-2 or B-1/B-2 visas for officials of designated Venezuelan government agencies. Other visa holders are subject to verification of traveler information. No restrictions on immigrant or diversity lottery visas.
· Yemen: No B-1, B-2 or B-1/B-2 visitor visas; no immigrant or diversity lottery visas.

Exemptions and Waivers

Several classes of foreign national are exempt from the restrictions, including U.S. lawful permanent residents, dual nationals traveling on a passport from a non-restricted country, foreign nationals who hold a valid U.S. visa or advance parole, and those who were physically in the U.S. on the applicable original effective date of the travel restrictions. Waivers are also available but are highly discretionary and infrequently approved. To be eligible, a foreign national must demonstrate that he or she would suffer undue hardship if denied entry; that his or her entry would not pose a threat to U.S. national security or public safety; and that his or her entry would be in the U.S. national interest.
The travel restrictions will remain in effect for these eight countries indefinitely, unless the Administration removes them from the list. The Administration may also add new countries and broaden restrictions on foreign nationals already subject to the travel ban.

CPG Immigration Law Group will continue to monitor these developments and will publish more information as it becomes available. You can call us at (415) 371-1800 to set up an appointment with an attorney to discuss your specific concerns. You can also subscribe to our Newsletter to receive updates.

DACA Update: One Month Left to File Renewal Applications

As part of the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) orderly wind-down of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, the agency announced the following:

Existing Deferred Action and Work Authorization

  • Current DACA recipients have only until October 5, 2017 to renew their employment authorization documents (EADs) if they are set to expire between September 5, 2017 and March 5, 2018. This means that if your DACA/EAD expires, for example, on January 2, 2018, USCIS must receive your renewal application by October 5, 2017 for it to be processed.
  • Current DACA recipients’ grants of deferred action and work authorization will remain valid until they expire, unless these grants are terminated or revoked by the agency.

New Applications for Deferred Action

  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will not accept new or first-time DACA applications received after September 5, 2017.
  • USCIS will adjudicate on an individual, case-by-case basis all properly filed new or first-time DACA applications that have been accepted as of September 5, 2017.

Advance Parole Based on DACA

  • Current DACA recipients with valid advance parole will generally retain this benefit until their advance parole is set to expire.
  • USCIS will stop processing any pending advance parole applications and will refund any corresponding filing fees.

DHS has also stated that personal information received by USCIS as part of the DACA application process will not be provide to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents for the purposes of deportation or removal proceedings, unless the DACA recipient meets their enforcement guidelines.

President Trump’s decision to rescind DACA has elicited strong reactions across political lines. According to news media, the threat of a lawsuit from Republican-leaning states was one of the motivators behind the administration’s decision to rescind the Obama-era program. Meanwhile, attorneys general from Democratic-leaning states have filed a lawsuit in New York federal court to stop the Trump administration from rescinding DACA, citing constitutional violations and the administration’s failure to follow the formal rulemaking process.

CPG Immigration Law Group will continue to monitor this development and publish regular updates. Please contact our office for your case specific questions and for further information.