• USCIS Restricts Use of Powers of Attorney
  • March 20, 2018
  • At a glance

    • In an abrupt reversal of policy, USCIS will no longer accept an employer’s applications or petitions if they are signed by outside counsel under a power of attorney.
    • Filings made on behalf of a corporation or other legal entity must be signed by an authorized officer or employee of the entity.
    • The new policy takes effect on March 17, 2018 and will apply to the upcoming H-1B cap season.

    A closer look

    Employers will no longer be able to authorize their outside counsel to sign immigration applications and petitions on their behalf under power of attorney, according to a new USCIS policy memorandum that takes effect on March 17, 2018.

    The new policy means employers will no longer have the flexibility of asking outside counsel to sign immigration submissions on behalf of the company. As a result, employers and their counsel may need to build in more time for original documents to be signed by the employer and returned to outside counsel for filing with government agencies.

    The new guidance supersedes a 2016 policy memorandum that explicitly permitted employers to authorize their outside immigration counsel or other outside representatives to sign petitions and applications under a validly executed power of attorney.

    Who may sign on behalf of a corporation or other legal entity?

    USCIS will recognized the following as authorized signatories on behalf of an organization:

    • An executive officer of a corporation with the authority to act on behalf of the entity and to legally bind the entity in all matters, such as a CEO, president or vice president.
    • An attorney employed in an employer-employee relationship by the corporation or other legal entity as its legal representative or in its legal department, such as in-house counsel or other attorney employees.
    • A person employed in an employer-employee relationship as a human resources professional within the entity’s HR, human capital or similar department who is authorized to sign legal documents on behalf of the corporation or other legal entity.
    • Any other person employed in an employer-employee relationship by the corporation or other legal entity who has the authority to legally bind the entity to the terms and conditions attached to the specific immigration request and the attestations made in the request, regardless of the person’s title or department with the corporation or other legal entity.
    • A managing member or managing partner of a limited-liability corporation or limited-liability partnership.
    • A duly authorized partner of a partnership.

    Impact on H-1B cap filings

    The new guidance will affect the upcoming H-1B cap season, which begins on April 2. Employers should work with their Fragomen team to determine whether the new guidance will require a change in their signing practices.