Term PagePolicy Advocacy
On April 19, 2023, the ILRC sent a letter to USCIS commending the agency on several changes to the USCIS Policy Manual and practices. The letter acknowledges the agency’s updates to civil surgeon signatures on Form I-693, the inclusion of additional gender markers on forms, clarifications on filing deadlines, and the flexibility for special immigrant juvenile applicants to file Form I-360 in person if they are in danger of aging out of eligibility. These changes are welcome improvements to existing guidance and practices and the ILRC encourage USCIS to continue to make further changes to improve the applicant experience and efficient use of agency resources.
On March 22, 2023, the ILRC sent a letter to USCIS acknowledging the implementation of biometrics flexibilities for domestic benefits applicants who live in remote areas. The ILRC commended the agency on its provision of flexibilities to ensure that all domestic applicants could continue with their benefits applications regardless of physical location in the United States. The ILRC further urged USCIS to expand these flexibilities to applicants abroad and highlighted the negative effects that consulate closures abroad have had on U and T visa applicants attempting to complete their biometrics abroad.
On March 8, ILRC responded to a request for input from the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) on how to broaden public engagement with the public in the federal regulatory process. ILRC suggested that OIRA partner with community organizations to ensure that information is shared in the most effective way possible, including written materials and trainings. ILRC also made several process suggestions that OIRA can implement to reduce barriers to public participation.
On March 8, ILRC provided comments on the USCIS proposed fee rule. In the comment, ILRC commended agency actions codifying fee exemptions. Additionally, ILRC requested that USCIS codify fee waiver eligibility standards and raise the income threshold for fee waivers. We also requested that fee increases be reduced for applications for lawful permanent residence, work authorization and family petitions, among others. Finally, the comment provides requested changes to various USCIS forms that are open for comment in conjunction with the proposed fee rule.
Letter to USCIS on Policy Manual Changes to Physical Presence Requirement for Asylee/Refugee Adjustment
On February 2, 2023, USCIS announced changes to the Policy Manual guidance on the one-year physical presence requirement for asylee/refugee adjustment. In a comment letter on February 16, 2023, ILRC commended USCIS on the changes. We believe they will increase fair and consistent adjudications for asylees and refugees seeking adjustment.
Special immigrant juvenile status (SIJS) provides a way for certain young people who have been abandoned, abused, or neglected by a parent to obtain immigration status. This practice advisory reviews the history of the federal regulations implementing the SIJS statute and then provides an overview of the new SIJS regulations, published in the spring of 2022. In the overview, the advisory highlights notable policy changes implemented through the new regulations.
On December 19, 2022, USCIS published updates to its Policy Manual on how adjudicators should assess applications under the Public Charge ground of inadmissibility. This guidance accompanies the new final rule on Public Charge which took effect on December 23, 2023. The guidance is mostly positive, solidifying and strengthening longstanding public charge policy. However, the ILRC provided suggestions to clarify implementation of the new rule and help USCIS achieve their goals of ensuring that the public charge ground of inadmissibility is applied clearly, consistently, and fairly.
Federal Rulemaking is one of the most direct ways that the public can participate and shape policies and practices of executive agencies. Federal regulations govern the executive agencies charged with enforcing the United States’ immigration laws and granting immigration benefits to eligible applicants. However, the process of Federal Rulemaking is often misunderstood and public participation in the process is under-utilized. This practice advisory provides an overview of the federal regulatory and rulemaking process as well as the authorities that govern this process as well as a guide to commenting on proposed rules and practical tips for navigating the resources available to the public.
On October 19, 2022, USCIS published major revisions to their Policy Manual on the English and/or Civics disability waiver for naturalization applicants. Overall, these changes were a welcome improvement in access to the disability waiver. However, we opposed the sections in the revised Policy Manual and N-648 that add a question about understanding the oath of allegiance.