Department of Homeland Security Will Change Handling of Notices of Decision and Documents Evidencing Lawful Status

by Daryanani Law Group

On January 27, 2015, United States Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) will change their procedures for sending out notices of approval and other documents granting status to foreign nationals such as work cards (Employment Authorization Documents) and Green Cards. Currently, Employment Authorization Document (EAD) cards and Green Cards can only be delivered directly to the applicant’s US address.

Such deliveries do not require a signature, however, and occasionally these important documents are never received by the applicants. In such cases, USCIS requires that the applicant submit an additional filing and related fee, unless USCIS systems show that the document was returned as undeliverable to USCIS. This practice arguably places an unfair burden on applicants who may not be at fault in the delivery failure.

The new rules allow applicants and employers to request that these original documents along with approval notices be delivered solely to the business address of the applicants’ attorney or accredited representative. Effective January 27, 2015, applicants and employers will be able to make this request by selecting a check box on the new Form G-28, Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Accredited Representative. In having these important documents delivered to the business address of the applicants’ attorney, it is hoped that the number of deliveries “lost” in the mail will be reduced.

USCIS also clarified their rules regarding delivery of notices of approval and other documents conferring status:

  • USCIS will only send notices to the person or entity applying for the benefit, when neither is represented by an attorney or accredited representative;
  • When USCIS is notified on the Form G-28 that a person or entity is represented by an attorney or accredited representative, USCIS will send notices to the applicant or petitioner who filed the request and to the attorney or accredited representative;
  • For applications or petitions filed electronically, USCIS will notify both the applicant or petitioner and the attorney or accredited representative;
  • USCIS has codified its current practice of sending Form I-797 approval notices with tear-off I-94, Arrival-Departure Records to the applicant’s or petitioner’s attorney or accredited representative; and
  • USCIS will continue to send original secure identification documents, such as EAD and Green Cards only to the applicant, unless the applicant specifically requests that USCIS have such documents delivered to their attorney or accredited representative.

All this reflects USCIS’ ongoing efforts to account for industry-specific practices, giving applicants and employers greater control in how they would like to receive notifications and documents from USCIS. For instance, while some industries may typically want all such communications to go through their human resources or in-house counsel, other industries or individuals would prefer that any important documents be delivered directly to their attorney. And now, fortunately for them, they have that option. Now if only we can get our mail person to deliver the mail on time.