Last year on October 29, 2014, the final rule, Notice of Decisions and Documents Evidencing Lawful Status, was published for comment. As announced by the Department of Homeland Security, the rule went into effect January 27, 2015. What this final rule means for the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), is that how it corresponds with an applicant, petitioner, and/or attorney at record is changed. Immigration correspondence and documents can now be sent directly to the applicant’s attorney rather than being sent to his or her home address. According to this new rule, the DHS now authorizes your attorney to act, to receive information and provide necessary documentations to the USCIS on behalf of an applicant, petitioner, or respondent.
What is Notice of Decisions and Documents Evidencing Lawful Status?
According to this USCIS will correspond with an applicant, petitioner and/or an attorney of record. The rule states the instances where applicant may send original documents to his/her attorney of record rather than his/her home address. Listed below are seven changes or new notification procedures:
- USCIS will send notices only to an applicant or petitioner when the applicant or petitioner is unrepresented.
- If an applicant and/or petitioner submits a duly executed Form G-28, Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Accredited Representative, notifying USCIS that he/she is represented by an attorney or accredited representative, USCIS will send notices to the applicant/petitioner and to the applicant’s attorney or accredited representative.
- An applicant/petitioner may request that USCIS send original notices only to the official business address of the applicant’s attorney or accredited representative, with a courtesy copy being sent to the applicant or petitioner for their records.
- For cases filed electronically, USCIS will only issue electronic notifications, unless the applicant/petitioner elects to have notification sent by mail.
- USCIS has now codified its current practice of sending the original Form I-797, Notice of Action, as an approval notice with a tear-off I-94, Arrival-Departure Record, to the applicant’s or petitioner’s attorney or accredited representative.
- Finally, USCIS will now explicitly permit applicants to have their secure identification documents (such as employment authorization cards) sent to their attorney of record or accredited representative.
- Applicants and/or petitioners will use an updated Form G-28 to select their notification preferences. USCIS has revised Form G-28 and those revisions are currently under review by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). USCIS will publish the updated Form G-28 after OMB completes its approval process. Until then, attorneys should continue to use the current Form G-28, edition date 02/28/2013.
How Does it Affect the Applicant?
The new rule implies that your attorney of law can receive original documents from USCIS in certain situations mentioned above. If you are a new applicant or petitioner, discuss the implications with your lawyer before filling out the Form G-28. If you are currently waiting to hear from USCIS, you will receive your correspondence at your home address. However, you should discuss this update with your lawyer.