U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services(USCIS) announced that both applicants and petitioners seeking immigration benefits will now have to provide a valid signature on any forms provided to the agency, effectively scrapping the provision allowing power of attorney signatures.
“In an effort to protect and safeguard the nation’s immigration system and those who benefit from it, power of attorney signatures will no longer be accepted. If forms are filed by a corporation or other legal entity, they must be signed by an authorized person,” USCIS said in a February 16 release on the agency’s website. “If forms are filed by a corporation or other legal entity, they must be signed by an authorized person. The new policy is effective March 18, 2018.”
The new policy, which takes effect on March 18, 2018, updates an interim memo stipulating the rules of signature validity, which also allowed entities filing immigration petitions with the agency to use the signatures of people with power of attorney. Highlighting concerns about program consistency and integrity, USCIS decided to rescind its power of attorney policy on applicant and petitioner signatures.
There are, however, exceptions to the prohibition on power of attorney signatures. Applicants below the age of 14 and those with disabilities can still assign power of attorney to individuals who can affix their signatures on their behalf.
The updated USCIS memo also makes additional changes to the agency’s signature rules:
- Authorized signatories should be an employee of the petitioner
- USCIS exercises the discretion to reject a submitted form with faulty signatures, instead of offering a way to fix the signature issue
Additional Legwork for Employers
The USCIS announcement means additional legwork for employers seeking to hire and petition foreign workers; forms filed by anyone aside from their counsel and immigration preparers need the signature of an authorized person employed by the petitioning organization. Among large companies that hire foreign nationals, it’s a common practice to use power of attorney to expedite the application process, especially when it concerns multiple filings.
The new guidance will require employers to assign more time for immigration documents to be signed by an authorized employee and returned to an immigration prepare or counsel for filing with USCIS. And depending on who is authorized to sign petitions within an organization, one person could end up having to sign as many as a thousand petitions, creating logistical problems when sending documents back and forth between the employee and immigration attorneys and meeting deadlines.
If you have questions or need clarification on this latest USCIS memo, talk to the legal team of the Lyttle Law Firm. Schedule a consultation with immigration attorney Daniella Lyttle to discuss this immigration policy at length.