USCIS Updates Policy Guidance on the Use of Discretionary Factors for Adjustment of Status Applications

Practice Areas

By: Kirti Kalra

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has updated their USCIS Policy Manual to include a non-exhaustive list of positive and negative discretionary factors that the agency may use when making decisions on adjustment of status applications for lawful permanent residence (LPR). This guidance is effective immediately.

Discretionary Analysis on LPR Applications

USCIS officers perform a discretionary analysis on adjustment of status applications where they review all the relevant facts and circumstances for each applicant. During this analysis, officers use a list of positive and negative discretionary factors to help them determine whether to approve an LPR application.

Under the new policy guidance, USCIS officers may examine positive and negative factors including, but not limited to, an LPR applicant’s:

  • Community standing and moral character.
  • Family-based and/or community-based ties to the United States.
  • Immigration status and history.
  • Business, employment, and skills.
  • Additional humanitarian concerns.

When the positive discretionary factors about an individual outweigh the negative factors, officers can make a positive decision and approve an LPR application. The converse is also true: USCIS officers may deny an LPR application when the negative discretionary factors outweigh the positive.

The updated manual also lists the privileges, rights, and responsibilities of lawful permanent residents (LPRs) or green card holders for officers to consider when determining whether granting LPR status to someone is in the best interest of the United States.


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