Green Card Applicants, and their Physicians & Lawyers Rejoice: USCIS Permanently Removes Logistical Hurdle in the Adjustment of Status Application Process
On March 31, 2023, U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) announced a major change to a longstanding practice in its Policy Manual: The 60-day rule is being permanently suspended.
The “60-day rule”
The “60-day rule” has long been a thorn in the side of applicants for I-485 Adjustment of Status, which is the application used to adjust as a lawful permanent resident for applicants located within the U.S. For background, most applicants for permanent residency must submit a Form I-693 Report of Immigration Medical Examination and Vaccination Record to show they are free from any conditions that would render them inadmissible under the health-related grounds of the Immigration & Nationality Act. The longstanding 60-day rule policy was as follows: USCIS considers a completed Form I-693 to retain its evidentiary value for 2 years after the date the civil surgeon signed the form, as long as the date of the civil surgeon’s signature is no more than 60 days before the applicant filed the application for the underlying immigration benefit.
While straightforward on its face, this rule often proved problematic and expensive:
It required more careful planning with regard to the preparation and timing of adjustment of status applications; it was unforgiving if something arose during the preparation that caused the application to be filed later than planned if such delay brought the I-693 outside of the 60-day window; it created confusion down the line amongst USCIS officers who were not properly trained or else misapplying the rule, causing them to issue Requests for Evidence (RFE) for new I-693 exams when not warranted; or relatedly, it forced USCIS officers to issue an RFE for an I-693 report that would otherwise be valid but for the 60-day rule. These latter two examples have been particularly thorny because most immigration lawyers would agree that the best course of action is to secure the new medicals and be done with it, as arguing about the validity of a sealed medical exam when it is the final piece needed before green card approval is almost never prudent.
The rule had been temporarily suspended as a part of USCIS COVID-19 Flexibility Policies designed to remove impediments to processing efficiency.
In its announcement to remove the rule permanently, USCIS acknowledges that :
“[a]pplicants, civil surgeons, USCIS officers, federal partners, and other stakeholders have consistently expressed concern that this requirement is confusing and necessitates Requests for Evidence (RFEs) to be issued for otherwise valid Forms I693. While the 60-day rule was intended to enhance operational efficiency and reduce the need to request updated Forms I-693 from applicants, in practice these efficiencies have not been realized.”
This is certainly a welcomed change by the immigration bar and applicants seeking benefits across the board. Please contact your Obermayer immigration attorneys to discuss how it may impact your case preparation and processing.
The information contained in this publication should not be construed as legal advice, is not a substitute for legal counsel, and should not be relied on as such. For legal advice or answers to specific questions, please contact one of our attorneys.