The USCIS Ombudsman office has released their 2011 report to U.S. Congress, as required by law.
About the USCIS Ombudsman Office
The USCIS Ombudsman office was created by the Homeland Security Act of 2002 and was tasked to assist individuals and employers in resolving problems with USCIS. The Ombudsman’s office addresses individual case inquiries and recommends ways to fix systemic issues to improve immigration services. For the year between April 1, 2010 and March 31, 2011, the USCIS Ombudsman office handled 3,247 case inquiries.
The Ombudsman’s office is an independent office within the Department of Homeland Security and is not a part of USCIS. This, in theory at least, allows it some independence and impartiality when dealing with USCIS. The report, required by law, provides an overview of the Ombudsman’s office’s activities and significant developments reflecting on the Ombudsman and USCIS.
The 2011 Report
This year’s report details pervasive and serious problems and best practices related to humanitarian, family, employment, customer service and transformation.
Humanitarian. With respect to humanitarian issues, the report focuses on enhancing trafficking protections, processing of deferred action requests and asylum cases.
Family. With respect to family issues, the report discusses the family-based visa retrogression (which we have discussed extensively), survivor benefits under section 204(l) under INA, military immigration issues and juvenile immigrant issues.
Employment. With respect to employment immigration, the report focuses on USCIS’s VIBE tool, the immigrant investor visa program (EB-5), ongoing issues relating to improper or overly burdensome requests for evidence (RFE), E-Verify issues, and EAD processing delays.
Customer Service. With respect to customer service, the report discusses problems with posted USCIS processing times, call center and customer service interactions, and interagency cooperation.
The 2011 report is an useful (yet, lengthy, at 84 pages) read as it provides a somewhat independent insight into USCIS’ operations. We applaud the Ombudsman’s office efforts to create transparency, to improve USCIS’s processes and to assist with cases on an individual basis.
Our office would be happy to provide case assistance which may include enlisting the Ombudsman’s help. Please feel free to contact us.