USCIS gives only 30 days to Respond to Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver RFEs

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USCIS recently published a policy memorandum decreasing the standard timeframe for Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver applicants to respond to Requests for Evidence (RFEs).

As we reported in February, USCIS recently began accepting Form I-601A, Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver applications. The I-601A allows certain immediate relatives of U.S. citizens who are physically present in the U.S. to request a provisional unlawful presence waiver prior to departing from the United States for consular processing of their immigrant visa applications. As the name suggests, the grant of an unlawful presence waiver waives any unlawful presence that the immigrant has accrued, thus allowing him or her to avoid the 3/10 year bar to reentry. The I-601A was promulgated to reduce the length of time U.S. citizens are separated from their family members and to streamline the unlawful presence waiver process.

Pursuant to July 2011, revisions to the Adjudicators Field Manual that were intended to streamline the RFE process, a response time of 84 days was given to respond to most RFEs. However, in an effort to avoid lengthy delays in immigrant visa processing, USCIS has decreased this timeframe to only 30 days for I-601A applications. The shorter timeframe applies regardless of whether the request is for initial or additional evidence, or whether the evidence is available in the United States or has to be obtained from abroad.

The issuance of one or more RFEs is something that can be expected in most cases. Although a timely response to an RFE often hinges on the applicant’s own initiative in gathering information, an experienced team of immigration attorneys and professionals is imperative to respond both timely and effectively. In light of the decreased response timeframe, a competent team is more important than ever.

For more information on RFEs or applying for an I-601A waiver, please contact Bill Flynn.