New USCIS Policy Manual To Begin Limited Release in January 2013

Effective January 22, 2013, the USCIS will begin implementing its new online USCIS Policy Manual.[1]  There is also hope that this planned Manual will make it easier to keep up with ever-changing immigration policies, administrative decisions, and executive directives. The Manual currently has twelve volumes planned, and will start with the twelfth volume, titled “Citizenship and Naturalization.”[2]  The first eleven volumes will be titled:

  1. General Policies and Procedures
  2. Nonimmigrants
  3.  Protection & Parole
  4. Refugees
  5. Asylees
  6. Immigrants
  7. Adjustment of Status
  8. Admissibility
  9. Waivers
  10. Consent to Reapply
  11. Travel, Employment & Identity Documents

Each volume will cover key topic areas in immigration law and will (hopefully) reflect the most up-to-date guidance from the Department of Homeland Security on those topics. The Manual is complete yet, and it is likely to take several years for USCIS to release all twelve volumes.  This new web-based tool will eventually supplant the Adjudicators Field Manual, and practitioners hope that it will also end the constant stream of USCIS “memoranda.”   According to a recent notice on the USCIS website, the online Manual will even have a keyword search function![3]

Perhaps the most important benefit that will come from the Manual will be improved transparency in the adjudication process.   A quote found on the new Policy Manual website is particularly titillating.   It reads: “The USCIS Policy Manual contains the official policies of USCIS and must be followed by all USCIS officers in the performance of their duties.”

We look forward to updating this post as USCIS continues to release additional volumes in this much anticipated policy manual.