Denials of Immigration Applications Rising

People put a lot of effort, time, and money into applying for citizenship, permanent residence, and other immigration benefits because job opportunities, education, safety, and financial stability are sometimes more available in the United States. Despite our country’s reputation as the world’s “melting pot” where many different cultures come together, the rules for the immigration process can vary greatly with each Presidential administration. 

The title of an article published by the Cato Institute on November 15, 2018 tells us that “Immigration Application Denial Rates Jump 37% Under Trump.” The article goes on to state that the data was for the first nine months of fiscal year 2018 and shows that denials for all manner of immigration benefits (travel documents, work permits, green cards, worker petitions, etc.) increased by 37% since fiscal year 2016. 

How do you ensure that your application does not receive one of those denials?

Part of the reason for these denials is a new policy, according to “Authorities Can Now Deny Visa and Green Card Applications Without Giving Applicants a Chance to Fix Errors” published by ProPublica on September 11, 2018. The new policy, which went into effect in September of 2018, allows U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officers to deny any visa or permanent resident application that is missing evidence or contains an error. Previously, those officers were required to send notices called “Request for Evidence” that would explain what evidence was missing or incorrect and allow the applicant to correct the mistake. Officers can choose to send the notice but can also choose to skip the notice if the application is deemed “frivolous.” The policy was intended to limit frivolous applications that were obviously incomplete and submitted as placeholders to give applicants more time to compile documents. However, which applications are deemed “frivolous” is highly subjective. ProPublica spoke with a dozen immigration lawyers for the above article and reviewed documentation for several cases. Some cases were denied because a blank page was not attached to the packet or because the packet was organized in a different way. Some work visas that would have been easily approved in other Administrations are receiving “intent to deny” notices because a prestigious university professor was not perceived as prestigious enough by the officer. Sandra Feist, an immigration attorney in Minnesota said that the aggressive requests for additional evidence “are far outside of the norm that I’ve seen in the past 17 years.”  Just a few days ago, we started hearing from our colleagues that they were getting application packets sent back because color copies of documents were not submitted (but black and white copies were). 

You never know which USCIS officer you are going to have reviewing your application packet. The results are very inconsistent under this administration and vary greatly from the past. Documents that were good enough for your parents, friends, or coworkers may not be good enough for your application. While no attorney can promise your application will be accepted, you give yourself the best chance to be accepted by working with an experienced, detail-oriented immigration attorney like Katrina S. Zafiro. Call 206-547-9906 to schedule a consultation for your family-based or naturalization applications today.

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Zafiro Law

As an attorney, I am passionate about helping my clients achieve peace of mind in navigating the complex areas of family law and immigration law. Your case will get my full and dedicated attention—whether you are seeking to navigate the complexities of your family law matter or overcome the challenges of your immigration law case.

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