Guidance on USCIS Officer Discretion Outlined in New Website

For some immigration and non-immigration petitions, the USCIS officer has the right to exercise discretion after the petitioner has demonstrated eligibility. Previously, USCIS has laid out their immigration policies and procedures into its Adjudicator’s Field Manual. To better clarify and organize these policies, especially regarding officer discretion, USCIS has consolidated the information into an online Policy Manual, which can be found at

The online Policy Manual provides “an overview and the general goals of the discretionary analysis, including the appropriate scope of discretion”. The guidance found in the Policy Manual will also supersedes any related prior guidance on the topic. The topics can be broken down by non-immigrant visas and different types of immigrant classes, i.e family based or employment based immigration. As USCIS is currently in the process of updating the Policy Manual, it is only partially updated.

This policy update to emphasize discretion in officer decisions may lead to higher rates of denials or requests for more evidence. Discretion could also add a layer of additional uncertainty on how a petition will result. When preparing a petition, one should look to the Policy Manual to see which factors was given weight, and adjust appropriately in the petition.

Here at Zhang and Associates, we have successfully represented thousands of non-immigrant and immigrant cases.With the added uncertainty of officer discretion, it becomes even more important to contact an experienced immigration attorney for all your immigration legal needs. Our attorneys are well versed all facets of immigration and can find the best way to achieve your goals.If you have any questions or concerns regarding any immigration related issue, our seasoned staff will be happy to help. For a free evaluation on your case or situation, please email us at

Former U.S. Consular officer, Attorney Sechyi Laiu joined Zhang & Associates, P.C. on June 26, 2017

At Zhang & Associates, P.C., Attorney Laiu specializes on Consular Processing cases and business development. Attorney Laiu also focuses on TN visas, E visas, CBP administrative proceedings (monetary confiscation, deferred inspection), and overseas financial compliance.

Prior to joining Zhang & Associates, P.C., Attorney Laiu worked for the U.S. Department of State as a Chinese and Portuguese speaking diplomat. As a consular-coned officer who served in Vancouver (Canada), Shenyang (P.R. China), and Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Attorney Laiu processed over 30,000 visa cases and worked in every section of Consular Affairs overseas (Fraud Prevention Unit, Immigrant Visas, Non-Immigrant Visas, and American Citizen Services).

He will use his experience and expertise to deliver the highest quality of service to our clients.

Founded in 1996, Zhang & Associates, P.C. offers legal services to clients worldwide in all aspects of U.S immigration law. We have successfully handled over ten thousand immigration cases.

At Zhang & Associates, P.C., our attorneys and supporting professionals are committed to providing high-quality immigration and non-immigration visa services. We specialize in NIW, EB-1, EB-5, PERM, I-485 I-130, H-1B, O, L and J cases. In the past twenty-two years, we have successfully helped over ten thousand clients get green cards. If you plan to apply for a green card, please send your CV to Attorney Jerry Zhang ( for a free evaluation.

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