October 25, 2017

USCIS Rescinds Deference Policy for Nonimmigrant Extension Petitions

On October 23, 2017 USCIS issued a Policy Memorandum rescinding prior guidance that instructed adjudicators to show deference to previously approved petitions in the context of extension. Under the new policy, USCIS adjudicators are no longer required to show deference to prior nonimmigrant approvals, even where the petition involves the same parties and same underlying facts. According to the Memorandum, adjudicators “may” reach the same decision but “are not compelled to do so as a default starting point.”

The new Policy Memorandum will impact extension of nonimmigrant status petitions where the petitioner, beneficiary, and underlying facts are the same. Extension petitions will now require the same documentation and must meet the same evidentiary standards as initial petitions.

Therefore, we now recommend that extension petitions be filed as soon as possible, generally 180 days before the current petition expires. We further suggest beginning the extension process 7-8 months prior to the expiration date to ensure the new petition may be filed at the earliest opportunity.

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