The Inspector’s Field Manual (IFM) provided CBP officers guidance on procedural and interpretive authority when adjudicating a foreign national’s application for a visa. As this document was previously public immigration attorneys and their clients knew the guidelines that the CBP officers must follow. Of course many aspects of the visa interview still remained open to the officers discretion such as whether the person has non-immigrant or immigrant intent.
Instead the IFM is being replaced by the Officer Reference Tool (ORT). The ORT has not been made public yet.
Some of the most important aspects of this document is how TN visas, B-1 visas, and B-2 visas will be adjudicated. TN visas are only available for Mexican nationals and Canadians. For Canadians they are typically applied for right at the port of entry and adjudicated on the spot by the CBP officer. As a result the CBP officer has a lot of power to decide whether the applicant will be allowed to come in and work for his/her U.S. employer.
Without knowing the procedural or interpretive authority it is tougher to know how the CBP officers should act. As a result, immigration attorneys must fall back on the regulations and statutes, but hopefully the ORT will become public soon.