More crazy mail.

Sunday, November 1st, 2009
By: Jonathan MontagJ.D.

Last week I got more of that crazy mail I have described earlier. I am sitting in my office, minding my own [actually, my clients’] business, and then open the mail. I have a package. The government [USCIS San Diego office, this time] does something so kooky that the next two hours have to go to correcting their error.

A client was granted a permanent residence visa. The visa was issued. Then the government issues a document threatening to revoke the underlying petition, a “Notice of Intent to Revoke?’ What is the ramification of revoking a petition after a visa is issued? Unchartered waters, for sure. The Notice of Intent to Revoke provides for 15 days to respond. Think of the jam that puts everyone in. The Notice is prepared and dated. It is placed in the mail a day later and delivered a day or two after that. Already two or three days are eaten up. Then to contact the client, get an appointment scheduled, discuss the issues, analysis, gather papers, write up a response, in just a handful of days. But, we do it and I get it into the mail.

I know what you are saying. “Why not hand-deliver it? You will know it got there. Your office is two blocks away.” The reason, USCIS does not accept hand delivered documents. To them it is more efficient to have everything go through the mail. Despite everyone’s experience, nothing gets lost in the mail, the mail room process is infallible – the mail room staff are the most competent and highest trained of all the agency’s workers. That’s why everyone works their way up to CEO from mail rooms.

All that effort to get the response delivered by the short response date. The next week, I get a package. The response is returned by the mail room. A sheet is stapled to the front of the packet. I am told that inquiries cannot be sent to the USCIS office. Inquiries are made by phone to a 800 number.

I had not sent an inquiry. I sent a response to a Notice of Intent to Revoke a petition. What explanation could there be for sending it back? The cover letter was entitled, “Response to Notice of Intent to Revoke.” A “Bin Laden Determined To Strike in U.S” degree of clarity in the title. The same efficient governmental interpretation. The packet included a copy of the Notice of Intent to Revoke directly under the cover letter. Everything indicated the packet was sent to the right place for a reason. Nonetheless, it was rejected.

And then the two hours is eaten up. I get online to make an appointment to see someone at USCIS. I rush over. I wait for my appointment. I explain the situation – it takes a little time because I have to overcome the presumption that the “Service” is right and the customer is wrong and misunderstanding the process. The package is accepted and the officer says he will route to where it was supposed to go. Then I fill out a customer service form – USCIS asserts it wants to know. Then because the stakes are so high – I send emails to the officers in charge to let them know what has happened.

Do I get a phone call back telling me the submission is now properly submitted? An assurance that the rejection will result in a denial for late filing? An apology for rejecting the submission? An apology for wasting my perfectly good afternoon? How about a reconsideration of the ridiculous policy of not accepting documents in person? Nothing yet.  November 2, 2009.


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