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Beverly Hills, California, United States
Eli Kantor is a labor, employment and immigration law attorney. He has been practicing labor, employment and immigration law for more than 36 years. He has been featured in articles about labor, employment and immigration law in the L.A. Times, Business Week.com and Daily Variety. He is a regular columnist for the Daily Journal. Telephone (310)274-8216; eli@elikantorlaw.com. For more information, visit beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com and and beverlyhillsemploymentlaw.com

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Wednesday, June 12, 2024

USCIS Issues Policy Guidance on Customer Service and Confidentiality Protections for Certain Naturalized U.S. Citizens

USCIS is issuing guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual that interprets that the confidentiality protections under 8 U.S.C. 1367 end at naturalization, which will allow naturalized U.S. citizens previously protected under 8 U.S.C. 1367 (specifically, Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) self-petitioners and those seeking or with approved T and U nonimmigrant status) the ability to fully access e-filing and other customer service tools. This guidance is responsive to requests from naturalized citizens and other stakeholders, and it provides these U.S. citizens with increased access to customer service tools, helping to eliminate barriers to case processing and improving USCIS response times for certain inquiries. Termination of the protections after naturalization will allow a naturalized citizen to request a replacement naturalization certificate in the case where they may have misplaced this document. It would allow the citizen to ask or answer questions regarding their intent to be a financial supporter for parole applicants. Feedback from stakeholders, adjudicating officers, and naturalized citizens indicated that removing the barriers to communication and case processing, initiated by 8 U.S.C. 1367 protections, will prove a significant benefit in family reunification and humanitarian sponsorship. This will allow more freedom in exchanging information between the naturalized citizen and USCIS and in turn, increases customer service support from USCIS to the naturalized citizen. Persons eligible for and recipients of survivor-based immigration relief (specifically Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) self-petitioners and those seeking or with approved T and U nonimmigrant status) are entitled to protections under 8 U.S.C. 1367. The confidentiality provisions were enacted to protect noncitizen victims from their abusers’ use of the immigration system as a tool to further harm and control them and to limit disclosure of their requests for immigration protection. After a noncitizen victim becomes a U.S. citizen, their abuser no longer has the same means to use the immigration system against the victim. Continuing these safeguards after naturalization causes case processing delays and is more of a hardship than a protection mechanism. This guidance, contained in Volume 1 of the Policy Manual, is effective July 12, 2024. On that date, USCIS will stop applying the 8 U.S.C. 1367 protections to naturalized citizens. The guidance contained in the Policy Manual is controlling and supersedes any related prior guidance on the topic. For more information, see the Policy Alert. To provide feedback on this update, email the Office of Policy and Strategy at policyfeedback@uscis.dhs.gov.