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USCIS Updates Its Guidance on Expedited Applications, Requests for Evidence, and Work Permit Validity

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USCIS Updates Its Guidance on Expedited Applications, Requests for Evidence, and Work Permit Validity

USCIS Updates Policy Manual 

On June 9, 2021, USCIS made three updates to its Policy Manual regarding Expedited Processing, Requests for Evidence and Work Permit Validity, all forms of documentation sometimes required of applicants and petitioners. The updates, in part, discuss the circumstances in which USCIS officers should issue Requests for Evidence (RFEs) and Notices of Intent to Deny (NOIDs). The second update clarified USCIS’s expedited processing criteria. The third and final update extended the validity period for certain types of work permits, known formally as employment authorization documents (EADs).

In its official statement, USCIS justified the policy changes:

“These updates support Executive Order (E.O.) 14012, “Restoring Faith in Our Legal Immigration Systems and Strengthening Integration and Inclusion Efforts for New Americans” directing federal agencies to identify strategies that promote inclusion and identify barriers that impede access to immigration benefits, issued by President Biden on Feb. 2, 2021.”

Below is a summary of each Policy Manual update.

Expedited Processing

In certain situations, an applicant or petitioner’s case involves urgency that requires expedited processing, which USCIS considers on a case-by-case basis.

The new Policy Manual update:

  • “Clarifies what USCIS considers an emergency situation, such as a critical need to travel to obtain medical treatment in a limited amount of time.”

  • “Restores the ability for a nonprofit organization (as designated by the Internal Revenue Service) whose request is in furtherance of the cultural and social interests of the United States to request discretionary expedited service, even when premium processing is available for that benefit.”

  • “Clarifies that expedited processing of applications for noncitizens pending removal or in removal proceedings is coordinated between USCIS and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.”

RFEs and NOIDs

USCIS is returning to an older policy on Requests for Evidence and Notices of Intent to Deny, which was rescinded and replaced in 2018.

USCIS’s policy on RFEs and NOIDs now:

  • “Explains that an officer should generally issue an RFE or NOID if the officer determines there is a possibility the benefit requestor can overcome a finding of ineligibility for the benefit sought by submitting additional evidence.”

  • “Emphasizes that officers should not issue unnecessary RFEs and NOIDs, such as in cases where the officer determines the evidence already submitted establishes eligibility or ineligibility for the benefit sought.”

  • “Provides guidance on when and how officers should issue RFEs and NOIDs and the limited circumstances in which officers may deny a case without first issuing an RFE or NOID.”

  • “Explains timeframes and options for benefit requesters to respond to RFEs and NOIDs.”

In 2013, USCIS published and followed guidance asking officers to issue RFEs in applications and petitions “involving insufficient evidence before denying such cases, unless the officer determined that there was no possibility that the benefit requestor could overcome a finding of ineligibility by submitting additional evidence.” That 2013 policy changed in 2018, when USCIS issued guidelines that stated “officers may deny benefit requests for lack of initial required evidence without first sending an RFE or NOID.”

The June 9 change is a positive one for applicants, petitioners, and beneficiaries of USCIS cases. Instead of being able to deny a case in its initial stages, USCIS policy now requires the adjudicating officer to ask the applicant or beneficiary for certain evidence that may save the case from denial.

RFEs and NOIDs are a standard part of USCIS’s work, and can often be overridden with proper review and preparation of an adequate response.

Work Permit Validity Period

The recent policy update increases the current one-year validity period for work permits to two years. The policy applies to renewals as well, meaning that individuals with long-pending adjustment of status applications may renew their work permits during the pendency of the green card case. USCIS commented that the change shall “significantly lessen the number of employment authorization requests we receive, allow us to shift limited resources to other priority areas, and ease an unnecessary burden on individuals waiting on the adjudication of their adjustment of status applications.”

Applicants with pending green card (Form I-485, Application for Adjustment of Status) cases are entitled to apply for work permits while the green card application is pending.


At Ibrahim Law Office, we have successfully navigated expedited requests for certain applications, namely travel documents such as advance parole, temporary proof of residency, extension of status, and work permits. As USCIS states, each individual matter is a case-by-case decision, so it is important that you prepare the strongest possible argument and documentation before submitting an expedited request.

We’re encouraged by these new changes. For additional information on USCIS’s policy updates, please refer to the USCIS Policy Manual or contact Ibrahim Law Office with any questions.

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