USCIS, is this any way to run an immigration system?

Sunday, June 29th, 2014
By: Jonathan MontagJ.D.

In one short week, this is some of the wisdom that has come from USCIS.

1. A, from Las Vegas, is a long-term permanent resident. A’s ten-year green card is expiring next month. A went online to the USCIS website to file to renew the green card. A then took the receipt for $450 to the Las Vegas USCIS office with A’s passport so A could get A’s passport stamped with proof  that A’s permanent resident status was not expiring, just A’s card. The officer told A that A could not apply for citizenship until A gets the new card, which A was told, would take about a year. Why would the information officer say such a stupid thing about not being able to apply for citizenship for a year and why does it take a year for USCIS to send a new green card to someone? Master Card  will send you a new credit card in less than a week if you lose and they do not even charge you $450. If it is expiring, they send you a new one without your asking.

2. B, a United States citizen parent who was raised and lived abroad,  immigrated a  child, C, through a U.S. Consulate. Once C came across the border, admitted to the United States as a permanent resident, B took  C to a post office and got C a U.S. passport. According to the Immigration and Nationality Act Section 320,  a child (born after February 7, 1983) automatically becomes a citizen if the child as at least one U.S. citizen parent by birth or naturalization; is  under 18 years of age, lives in the legal and physical custody of the U.S. citizen parent, and is a  lawful permanent resident.

USCIS sent B a letter telling him that C needs to pay $165 for a green card to be made. B ignored the letter. B got a second one. B called the USCIS National Customer Service Center and told them about the letter and asked why a U.S. citizen would have to pay $165 for a green card. The officer angrily explained that a passport from the Department of State means nothing. If he did not pay they would have big trouble as C  is not a citizen until USCIS says C is. Why does USCIS want $165 from U.S. citizens to make them green cards? Why would a USCIS information officer tell someone something as absurd as that a U.S. passport is not proof of citizenship?

3.  D, who entered the United States without a visa as a child and was raised in this country married  a U.S. citizen who served in the military. D called USCIS’s National Customer Service Center  and asked how D could become a permanent resident. Ordinarily, a person cannot become a permanent resident while in the United States without having entered the country with inspection. D was told that because D entered without inspection, D could get a green card by applying for asylum and explaining D’s predicament. D did this and because D did not qualify for asylum – fearing persecution based on race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or social group – D was placed in removal proceedings. D then applied for “Parole in Place,”   a USCIS policy that allows spouses of veterans to be deemed as having entered with inspection as a parolee so the person can adjust status. USCIS in San Diego refuses to issue the Parole in Place because D is in removal proceedings and that ICE needs to issue the parole document. Parole in Place is a USCIS program. ICE was not delegated the authority, USCIS was. The purpose is to make life easier for military families facing having to be separated because of an illegal entry. From what orifice did the San Diego office pull out the wisdom that ICE could issue Paroles in Place and that it was not available to people in removal proceedings – particularly those in proceedings because of USCIS’s own wrong advice?

4. E petitioned USCIS to remove the condition on E’s residence on Form I-751. The USCIS in Laguna Niguel asked for a piece of paper. E sent it and post office tracking and return receipt shows USCIS received it long before the deadline it set. Then USCIS sent a letter saying it did not receive the piece of paper and was denying the petition. The denial letter explained that E could file a form and pay $680 if E wanted Laguna Niguel to reconsider the denial. E went to the San Diego local office and asked how it could be that if E sent the paper on time and it was received on time, E was denied and E had to file a reconsideration form and pay $680 to fix USCIS’s obvious mistake. The San Diego officer agreed with E and told E all E needed to do was write a letter explaining the situation to Laguna Niguel and everything would be alright. E immediately did. E got the letter back telling E that E’s request for reconsideration was rejected because E did not include the $680 fee and the appropriate form. E immediately sent the form and fee – but by then the deadline for filing the reconsideration request had passed. In the meantime, USCIS placed E in removal proceedings incurring more stress and more expense. Why would the San Diego office tell E not to file the form and fee? And why, after the San Diego office was alerted to its mistake (by me), is it powerless to intercede on E’s behalf? Will USCIS accept the late reconsideration request? Will it act on it in a timely manner?

The advice USCIS provides to the public can be wrong and hugely damaging. Its self-monitoring of its information officers is abysmal. How can it tell people to apply for asylum when they shouldn’t, tell people not submit forms and fees, insist that citizens pay for permanent residence cards, and make up naturalization requirements? And why can’t USCIS straighten out the messes IT creates for people? Is this any way to run an immigration system? You bet it’s not. Posted June 29, 2014.


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