Immigration and Customs Enforcement is reversing internal guidelines on U-visas, allowing greater discretion to deport victims of crimes. Previously, ICE had policies instructing officers to ask USCIS what the likelihood of approval of a certain U-visa petition would be before denying a stay of removal request. If USCIS made an initial positive determination, the ICE officer would then stop the deportation pending a final decision on the visa petition unless there were “serious adverse factors.” Now, ICE officers and attorneys will not ask USCIS for a prima facie determination and will have total discretion based on the “totality of the circumstances” to deny the stay of removal request. ICE stated that the reversal was based on the burden of the original policy and its lack of impact on decisions. The decision to reverse the policy will affect applicants by subjecting them to the risk of ICE arrests while their visa is pending, and attorneys warn that if the new policy is used as a deportation tool, there will be fewer reports and victims will be unable to help law enforcement because of their immigration status.

-Weekly Immigration Briefing by Olivia Hester, Immigration Law Analyst at Docketwise

Posted in: Immigration