May 4, 2021

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New policy guidance instructs immigration officers to give deference to prior determinations when adjudicating extension requests involving the same parties and facts unless there was a material error, material change, or new material facts.

What does this mean? If there were no big changes in the case, no big error in the case, no new facts in the case: the adjudicator at USCIS should honor the prior determination by the last adjudicator that handled the case. This is great news because it means more likelihood of approvals for extensions.

The new policy guidance from USCIS is a return to pre-Trump policy. According to the memo, there was a prior-long standing guidance issued in 2004 which directed officers to generally defer to prior determinations of eligibility when adjudicating extension requests involving the same parties and facts as the initial petition or application. In 2017, USCIS rescinded the 2004 guidance.

This update is in accordance with President Biden’s executive order: Restoring Faith in Our Legal Immigration Systems and Strengthening Integration and Inclusion Efforts for New Americans

This is a step towards a reasonable approach to immigration because most visas that were previously approved should be extended without issue if there are no substantial changes.

About the author 

Jon Velie

About the author: Jon Velie has practiced immigration law since 1993. He is CEO of, the Intelligent Immigration Platform. Jon is an Amazon number one best-selling author of H-1B Visa: Application & Approval that is regularly covered by major media and has won a number of international awards. Jon can be contacted at or 405-310-4333 office or 405-821-5959 mobile.

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