Integrity Legal

2nd November 2010

It recently came to the attention of this blogger that the Ombudsman for the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) has made some recommendations regarding the processing procedures associated with the I-601 waiver. To quote directly from a recent Memorandum sent to CIS Ombudsman January Contreras from USCIS Director Alejandro N. Mayorkas:

The CIS Ombudsman recommends that USCIS:

• Centralize processing of all Forms 1-601 to deliver faster and more standardized
adjudication; .

• Provide for concurrent filing of Form 1-601 and Form 1-130, Petition for Alien Relative;

• Prioritize the finalization of its overseas case management system (currently in
development) to provide for accurate statistical reporting of Forms.1-601, allowing for:
(1) posted processing times, and (2) tracking via the “My Case Status” feature on the
USCIS website;

• Publish clear filing instructions to guide customers in need of expedited Form 1-601
processing;

• Improve coordination between DOS consular· officers and USCIS adjudicators who work
with Forms 1-601 at CDJ; and,

• Amend CDJ’s office policy to allow USCIS employees to request digitized Alien Files
(A-files) upon receipt of interview schedules.

Some of these issues have been raised by those with cases pending before the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service or a US Embassy or US Consulate overseas. The aforementioned memorandum is quite extensive and those interested in learning further should check out the full memo online. That said, USCIS responded to many of the issues raised by the Ombudsman. For example, the memo noted the following:

1. Centralize processing of all Forms 1-601 to deliver faster and more standardized adjudication.

USCIS Response: USCIS agrees in part.

USCIS is currently evaluating different organizational models for processing Forms 1-601 filed overseas, with the aim of enhancing consistency and efficiency, optimizing use of USCIS resources, and further decreasing processing times for cases that cannot be quickly approved. While centralization is one model that could further these goals; other models, such as bispecialization (i.e.,processing particular forms in two locations only), may have some advantages…

The memorandum went on to reply further:

2. Provide for concurrent filing of Form 1-601 and Form 1-130, Petition for Alien Relative.

USCIS Response: USCIS is considering this recommendation.

In April 2010, USCIS formed a working group under the leadership of the Office of Policy and Strategy to explore concurrent filing and any possible challenges to implementation. Because the change in our process could result in unanticipated complications, it would have to be done in a manner that carefully manages applicant expectations and USCIS resources. The working group is focused on evaluating the feasibility and benefits of the potential process change…

This suggestion could prove interesting in practice as the dynamics of concurrent filing may not be feasible. As the tone of the above citation implies, there may be a great deal of study before such a suggestion could be acted upon. Meanwhile, under the current processing scheme those who need an I-601 waiver outside of the United States must first be deemed inadmissible in a visa adjudication conducted by a Consular Officer at a US Mission, US Embassy, or US Consulate abroad. Therefore, simultaneous application submission as suggested above may not comport with current processing procedures.

3. Prioritize the finalization of its overseas case management system (currently in development) to provide for accurate statistical reporting of Forms 1-601, allowing for: (1) posted processing times, and (2) tracking via the “My Case Status” feature on the USCIS website.

USCIS Response: USCIS agrees.

USCIS is pleased to report that the USCIS overseas case management system, which has been an Agency priority over the course of FY2010, was released for use by all International Operations staff on August 16, 2010.

Hopefully, measures such as those noted above will lead to further streamlining of the overall United States Immigration process.To quote the memorandum further:

4. Publish clear filing instructions to guide Customers in need of expedited Form 1-601 processing.

USCIS Response: USCIS agrees.

USCIS is in the process of updating its International Operations Division’s standard operating guidance on Form 1-601 adjudications to address requests for expedited processing.

Hopefully, new guidance about expedited processing will assist petitioners and beneficiaries in understanding how to go about requesting expedited processing in cases where such service is warranted.

5. Improve coordination between DOS consular officers and USCIS adjudicators who work with Forms 1-601 at CDJ.

USCIS Response: USCIS agrees.

USCIS agrees that DOS consular officers and USCIS adjudicators should maintain close coordination at CDJ and all other overseas posts. All USCIS overseas offices closely collaborate with their DOS colleagues. In CDJ, DOS consular officers and USCIS adjudicators discuss shared concerns every day. The USCIS CDJ Field Office Director and the Immigrant Visa Chief also maintain daily contact…

In many ways, cooperation between officers at different government agencies represents one of the best hopes for an overall streamlining of the visa process. Although, those interested in understanding the I-601 waiver process should note that there are some functions that must be performed by Consular Officers and some that must be performed by USCIS Officers. In any case, effective communication between multiple individuals and agencies is likely to result in more convenience for those seeking an immigration benefit.

6. Amend CDJ’s office policy to allow USCIS employees to request digitized Alien Files (Afiles) upon receipt of interview schedules.

USCIS Response: USCIS agrees in part.

USCIS agrees that A-file records (whether digitized or hard copy) should be requested early in the adjudication process and is evaluating procedures to achieve this goal without significantly delaying the process.

Although digitized records represent further efficiency, it may take time to implement the recommendation noted above.

The process of obtaining a visa or an I-601 waiver of inadmissibility can be difficult to understand for those unaccustomed to the immigration process. In many cases where involving I-601 waivers, individuals or couples sometimes opt to retain the assistance of an American attorney experienced in United States Immigration matters as such individuals are licensed to provide advice and counsel in matters pertaining to US travel documents and waivers of inadmissibility to the USA.

Fore related information please see: US Visa Denial or K1 visa.


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