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Policies make it easier for USCIS to reject immigration visas

California readers could be concerned to learn that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has released two memos that significantly alter the way the federal government handles visa applications. The changes make it easier for officials to deny applications and deport immigrants.

In mid-July, USCIS released a memo that allows officials to immediately reject visa applications that have missing or inaccurate information. This changes a 2013 policy that required officials to notify applicants of correctable errors and give them 30 days to address the issue. The new policy applies to both new applications and renewals and goes into effect on Sept. 11.

On June 28, USCIS issued another memo that lets Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials begin deportation proceedings the moment an applicant's visa is denied. This means that immigrants who have been legally living in the U.S. for years could suddenly be deported if their visa renewal application is rejected on a technicality. A representative for the American Immigration Lawyers Association called the new policies an attack on legal immigration. However, a representative of USCIS said the changes were necessary to meet the demands of the Trump administration. In order to avoid deportation, experts encourage immigrants to file their visa applications as early as possible and to make sure they are accurate.

Visa applications can be complex and time-consuming to complete. As a result, many people find it helpful to seek the guidance of an immigration law attorney as they prepare their application. An attorney could help ensure the application is fully and properly documented and make sure that all deadlines are met. If the visa is denied, legal counsel could file an appeal on the applicant's behalf.

Source: CBS News, "Changes to federal policies pave way for sudden visa denials, deportation", Graham Kates, July 19, 2018

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