As I have written about before, USCIS has a National Customer Service Center (NCSC) where customers can call to ask about the status of their cases through an 800 number, (800) 375-5283.
Recently a former client came to see me about delays in a benefit he was seeking and we discussed suing USCIS because of the delay. While in my office, he said he wanted to call the “800 number” to see if there had been any late-breaking progress in his case. I scoffed, telling him he would be placed on hold for an hour or more before he got through to an officer as this has been my recent experience. He looked at me incredulously. “It will just take a few minutes,” he assured. He called and in fact his call just took a few minutes. Is this the same NCSC I call, I wondered?
When a person calls the NCSC, you get routed through a typical phone message tree: Press 1 for this and 2 of this…. One of the choices is for lawyers. “Press 1 if you are an attorney.” My assumption (and you know what they say about assumptions) was that by pressing “1,” I am on my way to first class treatment. My thinking has been, “If I am waiting an hour, pity the poor unrepresented souls who call on their own.” As it turns out, it just may be that by pressing “1,” you damn yourself to a long wait that customers who call for themselves do not endure.
Please let me know by commenting to this posting if your experience as an attorney is interminable waits and as an applicant calling on your own you get prompt service. It would indeed be odd if USCIS’s NCSC discriminates against represented customers by persecuting their attorneys. Posted June 11, 2013.
It may be anticipation that makes you wait in the song (and ketchup commercial), but in real life it is USCIS that makes you wait. A trip to the Asylum Office in Anaheim, California, can mean reporting for a 6:30 a.m. interview and being called into the interview at 10 a.m. — or later, which is a long time to sit in a waiting room after setting out for the appointment at 4:30 a.m. It made me wonder whether we could apply for asylum based on persecution by the Asylum Office.
Today, a USCIS interview in Chula Vista, California, one of the two San Diego County immigration offices in the city where I work, scheduled for 8:05 a.m., which is kind or early, resulted in being called in to the interview at 9 a.m., which was not that unexpected or unusual (and not worthy of a blog posting). The comedy of it is that the appointment was at 8:05 a.m., as if these appointments are scheduled with such exactitude because USCIS is holding to its schedule so tightly, like Mussolini’s proverbial trains. Note, not 8:00 a.m. or 8:15 a.m., but 8:05 a.m. Still, not very blog-worthy. The kicker was that I came back to my office from the 8:05 a.m. appointment and looked at the mail. I received an appointment notice for next month for 3:57 p.m. – a super specific time. I wonder if this means my client and I will be called in to the interview at 4:52 p.m. Posted May 1, 2013
On April 23, 2013, the Supreme Court issued its decision in Moncrieffe v. Holder. In the case, a man, appropriately Mr. Moncrieffe, got convicted of a marijuana distribution crime in Georgia. Drug distribution felonies are categorized as aggravated felonies and render an alien deportable and ineligible for relief. In other words , such a crime results in near-certain deportation. Under federal law, distribution of a small amount of marijuana without remuneration is not deemed an aggravated felony. It was not clear if Mr. Moncrieffe got convicted of distribution of a large amount of marijuana for money or a small amount without money as regardless, a person in Georgia can be convicted of the same marijuana distribution offense whether it was a large or small amount and whether or not he was paid and the conviction documents do not need to make it clear.
The lower courts, namely the immigration court, the Board of Immigration Appeals and the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals concluded that Mr. Moncrieffe had to prove that he was convicted of the non-aggravated felony version of the crime. Ambiguity means he failed to meet his burden. He was thus deemed an aggravated felon and was ordered deported. Mr. Moncrieffe, apparently, could not prove he was distributing a small amount of marijuana without being paid. Read more »
One of the questions applicants for citizenship can be asked as part of the civics test which is part of the process of naturalization is, “What is the rule of law?” (Question 12). The possible answers are:
Everyone must follow the law.
Leaders must obey the law.
Government must obey the law.
No one is above the law.
Despite criticism of the answers, the question points to what we believe is a basic tenet in our society – that we are treated equally and fairly by our government. In the case of naturalization law, there is a fairly complex set of laws and regulations governing the requirements for naturalization – duration of U.S. residence, duration of permanent residence, good character, criminal history, willingness to swear allegiance to the country and to help the country if asked, knowledge of the English language, and civics knowledge. Applying Question 12 of the civics exam, one would expect that if a person meets these requirements, he can naturalize in the normal processing time for naturalization processing. Similarly, if an applicant for other immigration benefits such as permanent residence meets the requirements, he should receive that benefit in a normal period of time.
Unfortunately, the granting of immigration benefits is not subject to the rule of law. USCIS has a program called Controlled Application Review and Resolution Program (CAARP). Read more »