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USCIS Announces Postponement to Implementation of June 28 NTA Policy Memorandum

US Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) has announced a postponement to the planned implementation date of a policy which would call for USCIS issuance of Notices to Appear – also called “NTAs,” the charging document beginning removal proceedings – in far more cases. Instead of September 11, 2018, the new policy will now only become effective until the agency has time to complete and issue operational guidance to its officers on how this will be implemented – when this will happen is unspecified.

As we discussed in an earlier post here, the policy was supposed to become effective September 11, 2018 and would vastly increase the number of situations where USCIS was directed to issue NTAs upon denial of an immigration case.

The new guidance would result in a dramatic increase in NTAs issued by USCIS after denials in a wide range of matters, including non-immigrant visa applications (especially extensions) marriage-based permanent residence cases, and even citizenship cases where the applicant is already a green card holder. It would have drastically increased the risks in filing cases for which people and companies believe in good faith are approvable cases, as denial – even wrongful denial – would result in near-term removal proceedings. The new policy would also cause explosive growth in the already enormous immigration court backlog, which stands at an average of about two years for an initial hearing nationwide.

Bowing to pressure from the business community and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, USCIS has for now agreed to postpone implementation – at least until it can draft operational guidance.