Approval Notices Returning to Prior System

MurthyDotCom and MurthyBulletin readers were previously advised of changes in U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) procedures regarding transmission of certain receipt / approval notices to attorneys. The change was not favorably received. Therefore, on October 20, 2011, the USCIS announced that the changes will be discontinued and the practice of sending such notices directly to attorneys will resume.

Background: No Prior Notice and Opportunity for Feedback

As explained in our September 23, 2011 NewsBrief, USCIS Failure to Send Original Approval Notices to Attorneys, the USCIS implemented changes in the system for transmission of I-797 approval notices without any warning. Apparently, this was viewed by the USCIS as an internal change rather than a matter that should be opened for public input prior to implementation. However, many complications were created by the USCIS decision to no longer send original case approval notices to attorneys, who were only receiving incomplete, abbreviated, “courtesy copy” versions.

Problems Created by Change

From this change a variety of problems was created. Some of these are outlined in the NewsBrief cited above. The change violated existing USCIS regulations regarding the recognition of attorneys as the representatives of our clients, and did a disservice to companies and individuals who immediately carried increased responsibility for document tracking. The incomplete nature of the courtesy copy further complicated matters, as lawyers generally check certain data on approval notices, in part so that errors can be quickly identified and addressed. As indicated in our NewsBrief, efforts were made to address these concerns with the USCIS.

Results: Back to Prior System

As a result of the negative feedback, the USCIS will be returning to the previous practice of transmitting original I-797 approval notices to the attorneys of record. Courtesy copies will be sent to the applicant or petitioner, depending upon the type of filing. The change is set to take place approximately six weeks after the October 20th announcement; due to the need to revert the system changes already put into place.

USCIS Needs to Continue to Get Input

In the announcement, the USCIS also referenced a proposed rule regarding an advance registration process for H1B petitions that will not be implemented. This proposal was announced in a March 25, 2011 NewsBrief, USCIS Proposes H1B Cap Pre-Registration Program / Murthy Submits Comments. As a result of the input received, including our own, the USCIS decided not to move forward with the registration initiative.

This was possible because the USCIS followed the regulatory procedures, which provide for a notice and comment procedure. In other instances, the USCIS seeks stakeholder input outside of the regulatory process, prior to making changes. The USCIS should encourage input at every opportunity to avoid making changes that must be later reversed. This is a waste of limited government resources. We at the Murthy Law Firm will continue to provide our input on changes that are important to our clients and to the greater immigrant community. We will keep our readers apprised of important immigration proposals and changes.

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Disclaimer: The information provided here is of a general nature and may not apply to any specific or particular circumstance. It is not to be construed as legal advice nor presumed indefinitely up to date.