Trump’s Invisible Wall and How It Affects You – Part 2
Updated: Dec 7, 2022
Although the Trump administration has done some work to improve existing barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border, Trump’s promised wall has failed to materialize. The administration, though, is building an invisible wall via regulation and policy to make the immigration process more difficult. Some of these measures are subtle and concern internal policy. Others, however, constitute major process changes that adversely affect foreign nationals. This is the second blog in this series highlighting the most egregious bricks in Trump’s invisible wall.
USCIS PROCESSING DELAYS
In 2014, USCIS took approximately 5 months to render a decision on the average application. In Fiscal Year 2018, the processing time doubled to nearly 10 months. In other terms, 94 percent of all immigration applications took longer to process than it took in 2014. How does this doubling of processing time affect foreign nationals and U.S. businesses applying for immigration benefits? It keeps families separated, jeopardizes people’s lives, often results in job loss, negatively impacts business operations, and increases the possibility of being placed in removal proceedings for some. In essence, this administration is restricting legal immigration by slowing things down. Many applicants for a green card through marriage are not receiving work authorization before their interview.
An example of one policy resulting in this slowdown is that for certain types of applications, USCIS officers conduct duplicate reviews of past decisions, adding unnecessary work to each case. Another policy prevents USCIS officers from approving qualified applications at the interview, instead requiring secondary review.
What can you do to ensure your case is adjudicated as quickly as possible under current conditions? Make sure you give your attorney accurate information. If your attorney files your application with incomplete or erroneous information, it potentially can result in delay, denial, and even being placed in removal proceedings.
USCIS NOW OPERATES AS A BLACK BOX WITH NO ACCESS TO INFORMATION REGARDING CASE PROCESSING. INFOPASS HAS BEEN NEARLY ELIMINATED.
In the past, a foreign national could make an appointment at USCIS at a local field office with an Information Officer through the INFOPASS portal on the USCIS website. Although it was often difficult to find an open time slot, the INFOPASS system allowed clients and attorneys to make an in-person inquiry regarding the status of their case.
In March 2018, USCIS rolled out a new program for scheduling INFOPASS appointments. The Atlanta Field Office has adopted this system that now requires a call to the USCIS Contact Center – 1-800-375-5283. After calling the number and navigating through several voice prompts, the caller will speak with a Tier 1 representative (likely a USCIS contractor) who will determine if an in-person appointment is needed. If deemed appropriate, the Tier 1 representative will escalate the issue to a Tier 2 officer (USCIS Officer). The Tier 2 Officer is supposed to call the person back within 72 hours. Attorneys using the new system report that callbacks are often made outside business hours and on weekends. Also, many times the callback was never made.
The CIS Ombudsman indicated that USCIS has identified several scenarios that justify an INFOPASS appointment including, but not limited to, requests for proof of status and emergency advance parole.
Coupled with a policy of excluding entry into the USCIS office unless one has an appointment, the new system makes it infinitely more difficult, if not impossible, to inquire about the status of a pending application or any ot