Archive for March, 2013

Disappointing USCIS customer service redux

Saturday, March 23rd, 2013

I recently posted about an ordeal I faced trying to correct a mispelled name on a client’s Form  I-751 receipt.

Two pieces of news to report. First USCIS  announced it is changing the hours one can call the National Customer Service Center eliminating Saturday hours but lengthening weekday hours. Saturday hours were a bit misleading as attorneys could not call for clients on Saturdays, so, from an attorney perspective, good riddance. Hours are now 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday in all time U.S. zones. It is not clear whether this means someone on the East Coast can call up to 9 p.m. or whether the NCSC has some way of figuring out where you are calling from.

Second, I got a new fee receipt yesterday for the I-751 petitioning client. It still has the mispelled name. Posted March 23, 2013.

USCIS provides more contact options, but still disappoints in customer service

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

 

It used to be that if you had a problem with a case with USCIS, you had no real options other than wait and wait years and years. Talking to an information officer was nearly impossible, as lines wrapped around city blocks to talk to one. Then, USCIS instituted a system where customers made appointments to speak with an officer, Infopass. Lines dropped precipitously, either because people caught on that changes in the law in the 1990’s made getting a visa nearly impossible for people in the U.S. illegally, or because with all the enforcement enhancements since 9-11 and the fact that you need to provide a name and address to make an appointment, people stopped going to the local immigration office fearing a visit to the immigration office could mean arrest and deportation, or both. Not really that irrational, as, though the analogy is far from perfect, suppose you robbed a bank, would you go to a police station to ask how to be forgiven for it?

USCIS also instituted an 800 number, (800) 375-5283, which connects to its National Customer Service Center.

Then, most recently, USCIS instituted an online inquiry system, catchingly called e-Request. (more…)

What if he was a foreigner?

Sunday, March 17th, 2013

Trey Anastasio

Trey Anastasio of the rock group Phish was arrested in December 2006 in Whitehall, New York, for illegally possessing hydrocodone, Percocet and Xanax. He went through drug court and afterwards his conviction was reduced to a misdemeanor. A conviction for possessing drugs is a deportable offense and also subjects one to mandatory detention while the case is pending. Being a drug addict or abuser is also a grounds of deportability and a ground of removability  which requires detention while seeking foregiveness. One can seek forgiveness for this crime through Cancellation of Removal for Certain Permanent Residents, INA § 240A(a), which requires having entered the United States lawfully seven years before the commission of the crime and having permanent residence for five years. Mr. Anastasio’s work in outreach about drug abuse would be a strong postive factor in his case, showing remorse, rehabilitation, and contributions to the community, all factors in the relief calculus. Posted March 17, 2013.

Lengthy detention policy for asylees, redux

Sunday, March 17th, 2013

On January 20, 2013, I wrote of of ICE’s de facto lengthy detention of asylum seekers. When an alien approaches the border and asks for asylum, the normal procedure is that he or she be arrested and detained until two things happen. First he or she must be interviewed by an asylum officer for a “credible fear interview.” If he or she passes this interview, then ICE will make a custody determination – evaluating documentation provided by the detainee about his or her identity, family ties, and the family’s ability to support the asylum-seeker and then deciding whether or not to release him or her.

Here is the chronology of a recent case: (more…)