Now even small application errors can lead to a visa denial

The U.S. government will soon be taking a tougher stand on visa applications that contain errors.

A recently announced change to visa application procedures could lead to many visa applications being denied for small clerical errors. As CNN reports, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced new guidelines for their agents that will allow them to deny applications that contain errors or omissions without first asking applicants to provide additional evidence to correct the application. Those applying for work visas are expected to be the most impacted. The change marks a significant shift in the visa application process and comes soon after USCIS also announced that it would begin removal proceedings against denied visa applicants who don't have immigration status.

Move rescinds 2013 guidelines

The new guidelines reverse a policy that had been in place since 2013. Under the 2013 guidelines, if a visa application was incomplete or contained minor errors then the USCIS agent would typically ask the visa applicant to provide additional evidence to correct their application. Furthermore, if agents planned on denying a visa application they would typically provide the applicant with a reason for the refusal.

Under the new guidelines, which go into effect on September 11, USCIS agents will be able to deny visa applications that are either incomplete or contain errors. That means that even small errors, such as an applicant providing the wrong address of a former employer, could result in the application being denied. The change also means that agents will no longer have to provide a reason for the refusal. That means that applicants who want to re-apply for the same visa risk making the same error that they made on their first application.

Removal proceedings for visa denials

The announcement of the new guidelines comes just one week after the USCIS also indicated that it will begin removal proceedings against those whose visa applications are denied and who are in the United States without immigration status. Removal proceedings are the first step towards possible deportation. Given that visa applications can now more easily be denied, the two changes significantly raise the stakes for applicants, particularly those who are already in the United States.

As Bloomberg notes, the changes will likely disproportionately affect visa applications that require large amounts of supporting documentation, such as H-1B visas. Since such visas require so much documentation, the chances of a clerical error leading to a denied application are much higher.

Immigration law help

As the above article shows, the rules surrounding immigration laws are being more strictly enforced. That is why anybody applying for a visa or who is concerned about their immigration status needs to talk to an immigration attorney as soon as possible. An experienced attorney can help with various immigration-related needs and help clients either fight to stay in the U.S. or help them maximize the chances that their visa application will be successful.