With the start of 2013, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) have already promulgated several important updates including the release of the final rule on the Provisional Unlawful Presence Waivers and the publication of the first volume of its comprehensive online policy manual.
To ensure consistency and transparency of the adjudication process, in the past 4 years USCIS has undertook a comprehensive agency-wide policy review of more than 10,000 of written memoranda.
As a result of this extensive and ongoing review, USCIS has created the USCIS Policy Manual, which is the agency’s centralized online repository for USCIS’s immigration policies. The USCIS Policy Manual will ultimately replace the Adjudicator’s Field Manual (AFM), the USCIS Immigration Policy Memoranda site, and other policy repositories. The manual is structured to house several volumes pertaining to different areas of immigration benefits administered by the agency such as citizenship and naturalization, adjustment of status, admissibility, protection and parole, nonimmigrants, refugees, asylees, immigrants, waivers, and travel and employment.
The USCIS Policy Manual is organized into different volumes, parts, and chapters that present policies in a logical and sequential manner. The USCIS Policy Manual provides several user-friendly features and enhancements. These features include up-to-the-minute comprehensive policy updates, an expanded table of contents, and links to related Immigration and Naturalization Act (INA) sections, Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), and public use forms. The manual is also equipped with a keyword search function, which will make locating policy and related information faster, easier, and less time consuming.
Citations of statutes, regulations, case law, authoritative sources, and other explanatory references appear in footnotes rather than the body of the text. Tables and charts supplement and simplify policy information to facilitate understanding of complex topics and instructions.
On January 7, USCIS began transition to its centralized online policy manual by publishing the first volume on “Citizenship and Naturalization,” which you can find by following this link: http://www.uscis.gov/policymanual/HTML/PolicyManual.html
The USCIS Policy Manual provides transparency to customers, including outlining policies that are easy to understand, while also furthering consistency, quality, and efficiency in USCIS’ adjudications and customer service. The USCIS Policy Manual contains the official policies of USCIS and must be followed by all USCIS officers in the performance of their duties.
During the public engagement on January 15, 2013, USCIS’s Director Alejandro Mayorkas has announced that in the coming weeks USCIS is planning to hold several webinars on the use of the online Policy Manual and to provide clarifications and explain new policies.
For many years, the adjudication process of the applications for the immigration benefits has been governed by numerous, often incomprehensible and conflicting policies and formal and informal guidance letters, which made the adjudication process unpredictable and inconsistent. We are very pleased with the development of an easily accessible one-source policy manual that will replace inconsistent guidance. Adjudicators of USCIS will no longer rely on formal and informal memoranda and will instead use the Online Manual as a resource that reflects the agency’s current policies.
In addition to providing guidance to the adjudicators in making their decisions, the Policy Manual is an important resource that provides accurate and useful information to customers, promoting awareness and understanding of their rights and responsibilities.
USCIS will continue to update its Policy Manual and will be releasing further volumes of the manual. We will provide further updates once they become available.