U.S. immigration authorities can now deny visa and green card applications that are missing information or contain errors without giving applicants a chance to fix it.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services have instituted a new policy order that reverses an Obama-era policy that requires immigration officials to send a notice to applicants to give them a chance to amend their application before closing the process. Now, officials are allowed to simply end the process without notice if they deem the application is frivolous.
“Under the law, the burden of proof is on the applicant,” USCIS spokesperson Michael Bars told Pro Publica, “not the other way around.”
However, immigration lawyers, like New York’s Pierre Bonnefil, told Pro Publica that there is not enough oversight to guarantee that applicants are treated fairly.
“They can deny you on the fact that, subjectively, they feel in their mind [the application] is not approvable,” Bonnefil said.
Pro Public spoke to about a dozen immigration attorneys, many of whom reported seeing applications being rejected over minor technicalities, like a page usually left blank not being attached, or because it was lacking a table of contents.
“It seems like they are just making every single submission difficult,” Bonnefil said. “Even the most standard, run-of-the-mill” application.
“People who are here legally, doing everything through proper channels, now feel as unsettled and unwelcome and uncertain about the future as people who don’t have documents,” added Minnesota attorney Sandra Feist.
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