United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officials, under direction of President Donald Trump, announced on December 18 their intentions to update an aspect of the green card application process. They will discontinue honoring congressional appeals for green cards as they've historically been accepted in the past.
For years, many who have been seeking permanent residency in the United States have turned to their congressional representatives in Washington, D.C. for help in dealing with USCIS. These individuals have relied on congress-issued privacy waivers as a way of filtering communication among immigration, family members and attorneys.
The new requirement, with an undisclosed effective date, will require waiver applicants to complete additional forms, most of which will require them to handwrite their responses and have the docment notarized.
A USCIS spokesperson notes that the shift in policy is being put into effect in order to make the handling of such inquiries more efficient. The new policy's opponents, however, have expressed concern over whether or not it will be feasible for overseas applicants to complete this process.
They note that the additional forms are quite complex, far beyond what a non-native English speaker may be able to complete. Having the documents reviewed by a notary can be costly as well. Up until this new policy was proposed, forms could simply be signed digitally. The intention is to eliminate that option.
The new policy would also relegate those in congress to nothing more than authorized agent roles. Any documents sent in that aren't already written in English would require a certified translation. Additionally, a new waiver would have to be submitted with any correspondence, especially if the the response was made more than 30 days after contact was initiated.
Opponents of the new policy note that, instead of making the process more efficient, it will likely make for more work for congressional representatives and USCIS staff. Those working in congress offices will have to re-draft a new waiver each time they communicate with USCIS as opposed to just once. As a result, more paperwork will be circulated.
If you're considering applying for permanent residency in the United States and you want to better understand how this new regulation may impact you, a Baltimore green cards attorney can provide guidance.
Source: U.S. News and World Report, "Trump Administration Adds New Hurdles for Green Card Seekers," Gabrielle Levy, Dec. 28, 2017