Item Three: The files that can’t find a home.

Sunday, October 18th, 2009
By: Jonathan MontagJ.D.

I had promised a discussion of the third piece of goofy mail I got from USCIS in one day in October 2009 to highlight the wheel-spinning frustrations of dealing with USCIS. By now, a month since I began this jag, so many more goofy pieces of mail have come that it is hard to recall the ones from that day, but recall I have.

A client was granted asylum nearly two years ago. We then applied to get derivative asylum status for his wife and children [on Form I-730]. The client lived in a different state than I do. I filed the papers and then waited. After a while I inquired about the case and was told the case had been sent to San Diego [obviously by mistake], but then was routed to storage. I requested that the case be sent from storage to the USCIS office in the state where the family lives. I followed up with an inquiry to the legendary National Customer Service Center and was told the family’s cases were still in storage but would be routed to the proper office. Then, low and behold, I got the goofy mail — USCIS proudly informing me that the cases were being forwarded to San Diego for further action.  Why San Diego where the only connection of San Diego to the family is that I, their attorney, work here?  I had to make another inquiry, at the end of October,this time to the USCIS Chula Vista office, to find out.  The officer, Ms. Nightingale, exceptionally helpful and efficient, informed me that some of the family cases were in Chula Vista, some en route to Chula Vista from the San Diego office, and others at the correct office in the other state. A mother and her children’s files disbursed around the country for no apparent reason. Ms. Nightingale added notes to files, notes to computer databases, and notes to herself to get all the files sent to the correct office.

A check this week, a month later, reveals that all the cases have yet to be received in the other state’s USCIS office. I can hardly wait to get a letter in coming weeks that the cases are now all in one place and ready for adjudicaton — in Katmandu.

October 18, 2009.



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