New USCIS Rule Regarding Mailing of Notices and Documents
Beginning today, 27 January 2015, USCIS will follow the following policies in sending out notices, approved documents etc.
1. When unrepresented, notice to the applicant only. USCIS will send notices only to the applicant or petitioner when the applicant or petitioner is unrepresented. (8 CFR 103.2(b)(19)(i)).
2. When represented, notice to both applicant and to representative. If USCIS has been properly notified that the person or entity filing the benefit request is represented by an attorney or accredited representative, USCIS will send notices to the applicant or petitioner who filed the benefit request and to their attorney or accredited representative of record. (8 CFR 103.2(b)(19)(ii)(A)).
3. Leaving to applicant the choice of whom to notify. If provided for in the applicable form, form instructions, or regulations for a specific benefit request, an applicant or petitioner may request that USCIS send original notices and documents only to the official business address of their attorney or accredited representative, as reflected on a properly executed Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Accredited Representative, with a courtesy copy being sent to the applicant or petitioner for their records.
4. Electronically filed applications. For applications or petitions filed electronically, USCIS will notify both the applicant or petitioner and the authorized attorney or accredited representative electronically of any notices or decisions. Electronic notification will not be provided, however, if the applicant or petitioner specifically requests to receive paper notices or decisions by mail, or if USCIS determines that issuing a paper notice or decision for an electronically-filed application or petition is warranted (8 CFR 103.2(b)(19)(ii)(B)).
5. I-94 to representatives only, unless otherwise requested. USCIS has codified its current practice of sending Form I-797, Notice of Action, as an approval notice with a tear-off I-94, Arrival-Departure Record, to the applicant's or petitioner's attorney or accredited representative. Currently, applicants who are approved for an extension of stay or change of status receive a Form I-797, Notice of Action that has a tear-off I-94, which the applicant can use as evidence of his or her current lawful status. For applicants or petitioners who are represented, USCIS will continue to send these notices only to the official business address of their attorneys or accredited representatives, as reflected on a properly executed Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Accredited Representative, unless the applicant or petitioner specifically request that USCIS instead send it to his or her mailing address.
6. Approved documents (Green Cards, EAD’s) to applicant only, unless otherwise requested. USCIS will continue to send original secure identification documents, such as Permanent Resident Cards and Employment Authorization Documents, only to the applicant or petitioner (when the alien is a self-petitioner), unless the applicant or self- petitioner specifically consents to having the secure identification document sent to his or her attorney of record or accredited representative (8 CFR 103.2(b)(19)(iii)).
The last point, item 6, is very important and a welcome change. Our clients who are traveling, out of the USA or otherwise unable to collect their mail, find it extremely cumbersome to receive these documents.