Every applicant for immigration benefits must suffer through the same long, slow and frustrating process when dealing with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Whenever I speak on the subject of immigration it is inevitable that at least one person will bemoan the lengthy processing times, lack of customer service and a general lack of knowledge of what USCIS is doing with their case.
These complaints are compounded when the applicant feels that they have done everything required and the case still languishes with the USCIS. At a recent gathering of Pinoy friends I witnessed each person outdoing the other with stories of how much time they spent waiting for action on their case before they hired our firm. It was apparent from their conversation that when filing for benefits with the Citizenship and Immigration Services time is something you can count on.
Processing times have been a sore subject between the Immigration Bar, immigrants and the USCIS. The immigration service has stated in a consistent manner that processing of applications and petitions will improve and that an applicant can expect more efficient processing of their applications. To this end there has been slight improvement and frankly, there is not much an applicant can do to speed normal processing. However, frustration with the immigration service is proper when delays occur after normal processing times or after an applicant has complied with all that was required of them.
When an applicant is in such a situation there are avenues that can speed up the outcome of a case. Here are a few examples.
Infopass is an Internet-based system that allows an applicant to make an appointment to see an Immigration Information Officer. That officer can then retrieve your file and see why your case or application is taking so long or what other requirements may be needed. They also can send you to the appropriate office or officer to find out further about your case. If you want to make an appointment to check on the status of a delayed work authorization or advance parole Infopass can make it happen. To access this excellent new immigration tool go to the website at www.uscis.gov.
If you feel the delay on your application or petition has been unreasonable and efforts in person to find out why have only made things more frustrating another avenue you might consider is to contact your local Congressman. Your Congressman or Senator has a staff member specifically hired to inquire on immigration issues. In addition, each USCIS office has a Congressional Liaison office dedicated to answering inquiries from members of Congress. You can call or email your local representative and ask them to inquire on your behalf. You do not have to be a citizen to make such a request. Because these questions are coming from elected representatives the officers that staff the USCIS Liaison office are prompt to update and explain why your case has not been approved.
Without appearing to be biased, I have found from personal experience that attorneys are able to follow-up and complete delayed cases in a much easier and expeditious manner than a layperson. By virtue of their familiarity with the system and their relationships, experienced immigration attorneys are able to go directly to the source and find out why your case continues to languish. Hiring an attorney will save you time and frustration but does come with a fee.
For those cases that are egregious, that is, delays completing your case go well beyond unreasonable, an applicant may sue the Immigration Service in Federal District Court and compel them to adjudicate your case. This has been a very effective tool in completing many emigrant cases.
Delay is part of the immigration process and often applicants feel like there is nothing they can do but sit back and wait. Hopefully, you now realize that there are tools available to you that will help bring about an expeditious and successful conclusion to your immigration case.