Another swing and a miss for the USCIS 800-number

Sunday, September 8th, 2013
By: Jonathan MontagJ.D.

A month ago I last wrote about  U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service’s customer service system, called in true-blue government fashion a long name and a string of letters – this time the National Customer Service Center or NCSC, or as people actually say, the USCIS “800 Number.”

I was very optimistic that a change to take place on August 16, 2013, involving the NCSC would mean better service to attorneys using the system. The change would result in attorneys not having to spend more than an hour on hold when calling the NCSC about a case.

On Friday, September 6, 2013, I had my first opportunity to use the new system. I called the number, (800) 375-5283, and lo and behold, after ten minutes of going through the telephonic routing system (Press 1 for … Press 2 for … Press 7 for …) , I was immediately transferred to a human being. I spent about ten or fifteen minutes giving this human being, an operator/customerservicerep/officer, names, addresses, zip codes, case numbers, alien numbers, and form numbers. The idea was to identify me as the attorney, who the client was, what the client was filing for, and why I was calling. The operator/customerservicerep/officer informed me she would take a “service request” which to the best of my knowledge means she would forward my question about the case to someone who could review the client’s file and answer the question.

I was ecstatic. A problem with the NCSC was discovered and solved. Three cheers for USCIS! Then after all that, the operator/customerservicerep/officer  told me that there was a technical problem; all the data she entered was lost and I had to call back later, which on a Friday afternoon meant Monday.

There was no, “Sorry sir, what I am going to do is write all this down (I hope you don’t mind repeating some of this – it will be faster this time as I already verified your identity) and put in the request when the computers come back up.” It was, “Call back Monday.”

There is an old story – I don’t know if it is true or an urban legend – that NASA and the Soviet space program both confronted an issue – how to make it possible for astronauts to write in space. NASA developed a space pen using pressurized ink cartridges to be able to write in zero gravity and extreme temperatures. The Soviets gave their cosmonauts pencils.

Dear Mr. Putin, please send Mr. Mayorkas some pencils for his NCSC team to use when their computers go down. Posted September 8, 2013.


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