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USCIS Changes Long Standing Notification Procedures

Recently, the United States Citizenship & Immigration Service began to send original documents directly to our clients.  Since USCIS had occasionally sent documents intended for the attorney-representative to the client instead, our firm assumed that the there was a temporary “glitch” in the USCIS system (i.e., CLAIMS) and that soon all would return to normal.

We were wrong.

On September 30, a few weeks after USCIS began its practice of circumventing authorized legal representatives in the general course of immigration petition proceedings, USCIS’ Office of Public Engagement issued an “Update” informing stakeholders that USCIS had adopted a final rule which provided for the issuance of all important and status determining documentation to be sent directly to the petitioner of record notwithstanding the Notice of Entry of an Attorney accompanying the petition.

Accordingly, USCIS’ action without prior notice to stakeholders has already caused needless delay as well as understandable confusion to many clients. USCIS did not apologize for their unilateral and unannounced action.  Instead, their letter expresses a realization that their actions might affect its stakeholders and while it considered providing advance guidance, it decided against it since the changes would require a few weeks to implement and…from the point of view of this law firm – they just didn’t feel like waiting.

Perhaps most infuriating is the fact that the Update advises that attorneys may simply insert their own office addresses instead of the petitioner’s office address if they wish the approval notice be mailed to the law firm.  However, the update states,

Please note: Using an address other than the petitioner’s address as the mailing address may cause processing delays related to the Validation Instrument for Business Enterprises (VIBE), as VIBE automatically uses the address provided on the petition to validate the petitioner’s current location. If petitioners use an attorney’s address as the mailing address on the I-129 petition, a cover letter should be included with the filing that clearly indicates the current address of the petitioner. This information will be used to assist the Immigration Services Officer (ISO) in completing a manual check in VIBE using
the petitioner’s address. In addition, if an attorney’s address is used as the petitioner’s mailing address on the form, the petitioner will not receive any I-797 notices.”

Today, the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) provided its members with a copy of its letter to USCIS Director Mayorkas requesting a review of this policy since it appears to be in direct opposition to long standing precedent and regulation. 

Specifically, the letter states,

“Adoption of the change in processing under the current regulation through a
CLAIMS 3 revision on September 12, 2011, violates 8 C.F.R. §292.5(a). That
regulation states:

Representative capacity. Whenever a person is required by any of the
provisions of this chapter to give or be given notice; to serve or be served with
any paper other than a warrant of arrest or a subpoena; to make a motion; to
file or submit an application or other document; or to perform or waive the
performance of any act, such notice, service, motion, filing, submission,
performance, or waiver shall be given by or to, served by or upon, made by, or
requested of the attorney or representative of record, or the person himself if

Under the terms of that regulation, service of “…any paper other than a warrant of arrest or subpoena…shall be given…to…the attorney or representative of record…” The unannounced change to CLAIMS 3 is in clear violation of that mandate, and must be reversed immediately.

In its letter AILA went on to list no less than eight (8) ways in which the processing change will adversely affect stakeholders (petitioners, beneficiaries, applicants) .  These examples set forth precisely just how widespread the impact of the processing change is as well as demonstrates how costly compliance will be for petitioning employers and finally, highlights the potentially harmful consequences from resulting  misrouted, mishandled or lost documentation.

Liuzzo & Associates firmly supports AILA’s position and looks forward to USCIS’ reconsideration of this ill-conceived policy change.

Liuzzo & Associates
One Penn Plaza, Suite 2016 | New York, NY 10119
Tel: (212) 736-2100 | Fax: (212) 736-2159 | www.liuzzolaw.com | info@liuzzo.com