CBP: "Implied Departure"

by Joseph McKeown

As members of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), the attorneys of D&B receive updates on trends and problems that sometimes arise within the various government agencies handling immigration matters. The most recent involves the denial of some adjustment of status (AOS) and change-of-status applications by US Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) when the applicant has purchased, but not used, an airline ticket to depart the US. The denial reason: the applicant's alleged intention to depart from the US and consequent abandonment of the application (applicants for AOS and COS applications must remain in the US until travel parole is granted or the application is approved, respectively, and so leaving the US before either of these is considered abandonment of the application).
How is this happening? US Customs and Border Protection reports that when a foreign national buys a ticket departing the US, this information is uploaded into their system and shared with USCIS. This "implied departure" is displayed on a preliminary screen, and unless officers clicks to a "deeper level" of the record, they will be unaware whether the foreign national departed the US or not. Denials for this reason, when the foreign national did not in fact depart the US, are due to officer error, and should be corrected with additional training.