USCIS Issues Policy Guidance on Deference to Previous Decisions04/27/2021
On April 27, 2021, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) issued policy guidance in its Policy Manual instructing officers to give deference to prior determinations of eligibility when adjudicating a request for an extension of petition validity. The deference applies when extension requests involve the same parties and facts unless there was a material error, material change, or new material facts. The guidance contained in the Policy Manual is controlling and supersedes any related prior guidance.
USCIS is reverting to prior long-standing guidance issued in 2004, which directed officers to generally defer to prior determinations of eligibility when adjudicating extension requests involving the same parties and facts as the initial petition or application. In 2017, the USCIS rescinded the 2004 guidance.
Additionally, this new policy guidance affirms that USCIS considers, but does not defer to, previous eligibility determinations on petitions or applications made by other U.S. government agencies; that officers make determinations on the evidence of record in the petition or application under adjudication.
This reinstatement of previous adjudicatory policy will have a major positive effect on the adjudication of petitions and applications filed with USCIS.
Citation: Volume 2: Nonimmigrants, Part A, Nonimmigrant Policies and Procedures, Chapter 4, Extension of Stay, Change of Status, and Extension of Petition Validity [2 USCIS-PM A.4].