USCIS Agenda Meeting January 20, 2012 Draft Minutes March 11, 2012 Bhavya Chaudhary

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1 USCIS Agenda Meeting January 20, 2012 Draft Minutes March 11, 2012 Bhavya Chaudhary In Attendance From USCIS: Director Paul Onyango, Supervisor Burn DeBoe, Supervisor Bertha Johnson, AILA Liaison Connie Roberts From AILA: David Soloway, Klari Tedrow, Elizabeth Garvish, Marshall Cohen, Tracie L. Klinke, Mikiel Davids, Lino Rodriguez, Audra Doyle, Bhavya Chaudhary 1) Please advise of the status with InfoPass and Congressional Liaison? While we appreciate the staff involved in these processes, often time the responses we receive are generic, such as the case is pending assignment to an officer. It is our understanding that the process for Liaison Inquiry Worksheets was designed in large part to identify to the USCIS cases it classifies as unduly delayed so that: (1) USCIS action would be taken scheduling of another biometrics appointment, sending a second request to another office for a missing file, assigning the case to a specific officer for action within a designated amount of time, etc. and (2) the attorney would be notified of the measures being undertaken. AILA Congress Liaison Infopass and our cases involve distinctly different processes. Any case review may involve the use of liaison. Attorney/Representative is issued a copy when a Notice/Decision action is completed. According to Officer DeBoe, if we have an Infopass on a very old case with lots of issues in it, ask for a supervisor so it can be bundled to Supervisor Bertha Johnson or Supervisor Burn DeBoe and they can handle it. AILA members said that Infopass officers have never pulled a file and adjudicated it. To this, Director Onyango said that now they can adjudicate N-400s. But for adjustment cases, there is one officer who is fully trained and can adjudicate, since adjustment cases are more difficult. USCIS is training more officers so they can adjudicate at Infopass. Sometimes, USCIS cannot inform AILA what is going on with the case - if security issues in the case and background check is going on, we may get generic answers - but usually, this is what is going on. If we are told the case is undergoing Further Review' after a long time we should understand what is going on. CIS is asked to hold the case then until security or background check is cleared.

2 Per CIS, on cases to be continued - no decisions can be made unless a supervisor sees and decides. Supervisor must know if a case needs to be continued. Officers cannot just put cases on shelf. Per CIS, we must ask to escalate to Supervisors if we think all issues in the case are resolved at Infopass. 2) Please advise on the status of fee-ing in EOIR motions with CIS. Recently, the cashier has refused to take motions to reopen. Filing with fees at the local USCIS office is the only method available for submitting these motions. Please reinstate the practice of fee-ing in these motions, or advise of any new way that the USCIS prefers for these motions to be filed and for filing fees to be paid. Additionally, please notify AILA through the Liaison process as soon as possible whenever a major change of policy, such changes for fee-ing in such motions, is contemplated. Fee-ing in EOIR Motions: Form EOIR-29, appealing decisions by USCIS may be filed and feed in at local USCIS office. USCIS will remind the cashier of this policy. Motion to Reopen have to be filed with Atlanta Immigration Court but they need filing fees for it. But the Immigration Court (EOIR) does not accept filing fees. EOIR Memo says - fee in Motions to reopen with USCIS and give its receipt to Immigration Court. We need to fee in such Motions with USCIS. There is no specific Form for MTR. Director Paul Onyango: we are working on a list of what we will take here list; we will research it and inform AILA. He will list all kinds of Motions that can be filed with IJ and fee-d in at CIS, so front desk understands it. Tracie will send the list to ISO Connie Roberts. EOIR-29 Notice of Appeal from decision of Immigration Judge is only filed with Department of Justice - BIA Clerk s office, Leesburg, Falls Church VA, by courier, in-person or delivery service. If there is a change in policy, the AILA Liaison will inform us now. 3) A member reports that he was informed that, contrary to longstanding policy, the Atlanta Field Office will no longer adjudicate I- 485s remanded from the IJ to CIS via an IJ order granting a joint motion to administratively close. The member was told that CIS will exercise jurisdiction over a remanded I-485 only if it was pursuant to an IJ order explicitly "terminating" the case. Please address: (A) whether CIS Atlanta has made the Atlanta ICE counsel's office aware of this change in policy; (B) whether CIS Atlanta will adjudicate an I-485 remanded pursuant to an IJ order of termination "without prejudice"; and (C) the legal and policy bases for this change

3 CIS will adjudicate cases when jurisdiction is established by record. When jurisdiction is an issue by their review of case record, they will obtain guidance from CIS Counsel. If there is no jurisdiction, they will either take certain steps or no steps at all. Administratively closed cases are tricky cases CIS has to consult counsel to ensure they are doing the right thing. On the issue of ambiguity, AILA members explained the only three possibilities and the possible course to be taken by USCIS: 1. Termination of Cases without prejudice, or 2. Termination with Prejudice - For Termination with or without Prejudice - CIS has jurisdiction. and 3. Administrative Closure - For Administrative Closure cases, USCIS does not have jurisdiction. Thus, there is no ambiguity and USCIS instructions are clear. 4) If an AILA attorney would like to discuss a legal issue with the local counsel on staff for the Atlanta District Office, is it possible to obtain a meeting with the local counsel? If meetings are not permissible, how can legal questions/issues be raised to or for consideration by counsel for the Atlanta District Office? In any event, AILA would appreciate if the name(s) and contact information of the attorney(s) on staff could be provided, to be disclosed only to AILA members. USCIS reminded AILA that there are established AILA boxes for Adjustment of Status and Naturalization matters. If we want CIS to raise an issue to CIS counsel, we should indicate request in to CIS with A# and relevant information. We can possibly contact CIS counsel only through AILA Liaison; AILA members cannot have access to direct counsel . Follow-Up Question: AILA Members asked about the possibility of discussing cases with CIS counsel prior to filing a case, to see if they are eligible to adjust status, negotiate with CIS counsel, etc. USCIS responded that this was a very fluid situation. CIS Counsel try not to advise even CIS Officers. Best course of action is - submit inquiry with case# to USCIS through AILA liaison in writing so that a case can be pulled and presented to CIS Counsel. 5) What do we do when an AOS applicant has a pending criminal charge, but the DA sits on it forever not moving forward with the charge? In the

4 past we have responded to an RFE or I-72 with a letter from the criminal attorney explaining that no formal charges have been brought against applicant and that we would provide the disposition when it comes, but in many cases, we cannot get, or the criminal attorney is not willing to push, the DA to act. AILA believes USCIS responded to this issue in the last year or two, stating that requests for continuances/rescheduling will be allowed on a case-by-case basis taking into consideration such issues as documentary evidence (letter from prosecutor or from defense attorney) identifying an expected date for conclusion of a case within a reasonable time. There may be no need to make changes to this item, but AILA wanted to alert USCIS to the previous response. No need for change. Previous statement stands. 6) Mentally Disabled Applicant Would USCIS please clarify its position regarding a mentally disabled applicant who wants to naturalize but requires the assistance of a legal representative or immediate family member per Public Law ? USCIS states that a designated representative may act in such a situation on behalf of the disabled individual, and defines designated representative as either a legal guardian or surrogate appointed by a recognized court or a U.S. citizen spouse, parent, adult son or daughter or adult brother or sister. In the case where the nearest living relative is more distant, i.e. an adult U.S. citizen nephew or niece, who has for the duration of the applicant s residence in the U.S. been acting as his/her legal guardian in all matters, must that individual be appointed by the court, or might the USCIS recognize that individual s standing based on his/her having acted for the applicant in similar situations, i.e. before Social Security, a bank, etc. No. CIS does not recognize individual standing based on his having acted in similar situation for the Applicant. Under Public Law , CIS needs court appointed representative, guardian, etc. with jurisdiction in Applicant's place of residence in USA. 7) Particularly in small firms, G-28s are signed for one attorney. However, another attorney might appear for an InfoPass appointment. Does the second attorney of the same firm need an additional G-28? Would USCIS be willing to accept a G-28 with multiple attorneys listed? G-28 with multiple attorneys

5 Representing Attorney should be prepared to complete a new G-28 when presenting herself as represent a client to CIS - need G-28 on each and every person. 8) Decision in time frames: Is there a time frame in which officers are expected to complete their review of cases and if a liaison inquiry brings to light that an officer hasn t made a decision in that time frame, is the officer contacted and what instruction is given to the officer? There are instances in which a case has been pending review for so long that the applicant s biometrics become stale and must be retaken, further delaying the case. Certainly we understand that in some cases where there is a fraud investigation or security issues, this may be unavoidable. But it seems most cases would not involve fraud or national security investigations. More common is the situation where no decision is being made on cases where the individual has a criminal history (but complete dispositions). For example, This applicant has to be scheduled to have his fingerprints taken again before a final decision can be made It would be helpful if, as part of the liaison process, a new fingerprint appointment could be scheduled where this problem is identified and then indicate in the reply that a new appointment has been scheduled. Or Until his files arrive at this office, we cannot schedule him for an interview. Because this reply did not indicate whether the file had been ordered, or where it was located, the reply prompted a second inquiry by the attorney asking that the file be ordered. This creates more work for the CIS Liaison to respond to a second inquiry and could be avoided by indicating where the file is located and either ordering the file or, if already ordered, indicating when it was ordered and the expected time for the transfer. In this specific case, it seems to be that a California office isn t responding to Atlanta s request for the file. In such a situation, where another office isn t responding to Atlanta s request for a file, giving the attorney the details of where the file is located and when it was requested (if multiple times, stating the multiple dates) will allow the attorney to then communicate directly with the office that is not releasing the file. This will reduce the work for Atlanta by reducing the number of liaison inquiries and also allowing the attorney to participate in efforts to have the file transferred. USCIS Response: AILA should use box to bring cases pending outside normal processing times to CIS attention. When we check case, we check all aspects of case - do we have fingerprints, etc. If necessary, we schedule Applicant for fingerprint appointment, request additional security checks etc. We inform AILA of the actions taken. However, many cases are ready to be reviewed, waiting to be assigned to an officer. We cannot determine when. Thus the response is rather generic.

6 Director Onyango said CIS Atlanta has a huge case load - 35%-40% continuation rate of AOS cases after interview. They looked into why the cases had such high continuation rates in Atlanta and found out that something or the other was missing in all the cases: majority were 1) cases with criminal charges had disposition documents missing, or, 2) civil documents were missing. The cases were not continued for the sake of continuing. Because case volume is increasing - probably because new applicants are moving in, RFEs are issued, responses received need to be matched up, keep up with interview cycle times, have criteria to meet, one thing that could help them is if we keep our clients prepared. Clients should go in with all documents. USCIS wants to complete cases at the interview without pushing it back on the shelf. Once it goes on the shelf, it is hard to tell how long it will be before the case is adjudicated. CIS wants us to help them with clients' documents. Once documents are received, it is hard for USCIS to tell approximately how long it will take them to adjudicate cases. They interview new cases and work on old cases. But Director Onyango emphasized that before the end of FY 2011, the Officers worked overtime, got outside help and moved cases. They did second interviews when needed. They are putting more resources even now and hope to get them soon to move cases quicker. They often lose trained officers to Headquarters. AILA asked for more clarity and concreteness on what happens when cases are already delayed and beyond processing times. We don't demand a faster action; it would be inappropriate, but would like a confirmation that this is not ignored but is a problem case. In response, Director Onyango said that when an inquiry is received by ISO Connie Roberts from USCIS, they investigate as to where the file is, when the case was filed and interviewed, status of follow ups, whether RFE was responded to, security clearance, fingerprint report or rap sheet expired or not, if yes, schedule ASC or request new rap sheet. They do all of this and get the case up to date before an Officer gets it for final determination. Supervisor Bertha Johnson stated that for unduly delayed cases, she gets them assigned to an officer handling continued cases. CIS is interviewing daily and some officers handle continued cases only. Sometimes, they don't know when those officers are needed for interviewing clients. 9) In general, how long are Motions to Reopen taking in the Atlanta office? Since we do not get a case number, how can we follow up with them after they are filed?

7 USCIS Response: A# is case #. We should follow up through Infopass and AILA Liaison box. Reasons for Infopass there are trained officers at Infopass who can pull a file and if RFE responses are in, they can make a decision there and then. USCIS Atlanta plans to build an office there so Officers in Infopass can interview clients there and adjudicate cases and make decisions on cases. 10) What is USCIS Atlanta s position on a pending I-485 application where the applicant s only arrest is a simple DUI, but the applicant is still on probation at the time of the interview and visa availability? Will CIS hold the case in abeyance, and if so, is there a time limit for how long they will hold the case pending completion of the DUI USCIS Response: USCIS may not hold cases in abeyance based on DUI. Cases with pending AOS that involved DUI that require court certified dispositions, may not preclude a favorable adjudication of AOS application. 11) We wish to bring to your attention what we are sure is an inadvertent error - please note that two of the notices posted at the approach to security at CIS display an upside down U.S. flag. USCIS Response: Thank you for bringing it to our attention. We have corrected it.

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