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USCIS Designates Two AAO Decisions As Binding Precedent


U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on October 20, 2010, that it has issued two decisions from the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) as binding precedent for the agency.

The first decision, Matter of Al Wazzan (PDF), affirms USCIS’s denial of an application to adjust status to permanent residence and holds that an employment-based petition must be “valid” initially if it is to “remain valid with respect to a new job.” The second decision, Matter of Chawathe (PDF), reverses USCIS’s denial of an application to preserve residence for naturalization purposes and clarifies the definition of employment by an “American firm or corporation.”

Matter of Al Wazzan states that to be considered “valid,” a petition must have been filed for a person who is entitled to the requested classification and the petition must have been approved by a USCIS officer. An unadjudicated immigrant visa petition is not made “valid” merely through the act of filing the petition with USCIS or through the passage of 180 days, even though the law states that an employment-based immigrant visa petition remains valid with respect to a new job if the beneficiary’s application for adjustment of status has been filed and remains unadjudicated for 180 days.

Matter of Chawathe states that, for purposes of establishing the requisite continuous residence in naturalization proceedings, a publicly held corporation may be deemed an “American firm or corporation” if the applicant establishes that the corporation is both incorporated in the U.S. and trades its stock exclusively on U.S. stock exchange markets. The decision also states that when an applicant’s employer is a publicly held corporation incorporated in the U.S. and trading its stock exclusively on U.S. stock markets, the applicant need not demonstrate the nationality of the corporation by establishing the nationality of those persons who own more than 51 percent of the stock of that firm. The decision further states that even if the director has some doubt as to the truth, if the petitioner submits relevant, probative, and credible evidence that leads the director to believe that the claim is “more likely than not” or “probably” true, the applicant has satisfied the standard of proof. If the director can articulate a material doubt, it is appropriate for him or her to request additional evidence or, if that doubt leads the director to believe that the claim is probably not true, to deny the application or petition, the decision states.

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