U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released the first volume of a planned twelve-volume comprehensive Policy Manual (the “Manual”) earlier this year. The first volume, actually designated as Volume 12, covers policies related to citizenship and naturalization. It took effect January 22, 2013, and takes the place of a “field manual” and a set of policy memoranda with rather inefficient organization. The Manual is the result of several years of review of the decade-old immigration agency’s policies and procedures. It will hopefully bring greater organization and efficiency to USCIS, although from the standpoint of immigration attorneys and advocates, that lack of organization sometimes works to the benefit of clients.
Previous USCIS Resources
USCIS officially came into being on March 1, 2003, thanks to the Homeland Security Act of 2002. The former Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) split into three separate agencies within the newly-created Department of Homeland Security, with USCIS charged with “national immigration services.” This includes processing of most petitions and applications for immigration benefits. Prior to the Manual, the two primary sources of USCIS policies and procedures were the Adjudicator’s Field Manual (AFM) and the set of immigration policy memoranda maintained by USCIS on its website.
Development of a Policy Manual
In 2010, USCIS began reviewing its policies and procedures in order to find a more efficient way of maintaining them and keeping them up-to-date. It sought input from “stakeholders,” including immigration attorneys and advocates, employment-based nonimmigrant visa holders, employers of both immigrant and nonimmigrant workers, law enforcement representatives, and others. It received over 5,600 responses regarding the areas that required USCIS’s attention most urgently. Almost half of the respondents were immigrant and nonimmigrant workers. USCIS chose ten areas to review initially, including a National Customer Service Center, H-1B worker visas, employment- and family-based adjustment of status, and naturalization. Volume 12 of the Manual resulted from this review.
Starting with Volume 12
The first volume of the Manual, designated as Volume 12 of a planned twelve-volume set, covers citizenship and naturalization procedures. In twelve parts, labeled A through L, it outlines the agency’s policies from the general purposes of naturalization to specific processes like the naturalization examination, the oath of allegiance, and the certificate of citizenship and naturalization.
The website for the Manual identifies eleven other planned volumes, but does not provide a timetable for their release. Volume 1 will deal with “general policies and procedures.” Specific categories of individuals will be handled in volumes 2, 4, 5, and 6, which will deal respectively with nonimmigrants, refugees, asylees, and immigrants. Issues pertaining to entry and departure will appear in volumes 3, 9, and 10: protection and parole, waivers, and consent to reapply. Volumes 7, 8, and 11 will address adjustment of status; admissibility; and documents covering identity, work, and travel authorization.
The employment immigration attorneys of Samuel C. Berger, P.C. help immigrants seeking visas to work for, or invest in, a New York or New Jersey business, and help businesses petition for skilled immigrant employees. To schedule a consultation with a member of our legal team, contact us today online or at (212) 380-8117.
More Blog Posts:
I-9 Audits on the Rise, According to Federal Immigration Authorities, New York & New Jersey Immigration Lawyer Blog, January 4, 2013
U.S. Senate Passes Extension of EB-5 Investor Visa Pilot Program, New York & New Jersey Immigration Lawyer Blog, September 7, 2012
USCIS Launches Initiative to Promote Immigrant Entrepreneurship, New York & New Jersey Immigration Lawyer Blog, March 1, 2012
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