Notes on I-601 Waiver Centralization External Engagement with U.S.C.I.S. on 5/31/12
In the I-601 centralization external engagement, U.S.C.I.S. and State Department officials outlined I-601 waiver application processing for cases overseas beginning June 4, 2012. Although the external engagement did not discuss the proposed provisional I-601A rule which will most likely come into effect before the end of the year, it shed light on the processes under which such waivers will be handled.
All I-601 applications for cases from overseas consulates are now to be sent to the Phoenix lockbox of U.S.C.I.S. for transfer and adjudication by the Nebraska Service Center. The new I-601 instruction sheet lists the addresses as follows:
For U.S. Postal Service:
For express mail or courier deliveries:
A benefit of the process is that the I-601 filings will now go on to the agency's CLAIMS system, by which applicants are able to track the progress of their filings.
Presently there are about 500 residual cases at posts across the world except for Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, which has approximately 10,000 I-601 applications. Officers in Newark and Miami are now working overtime on them and 1000 cases are being transferred to the Nebraska Service Center. Also 21 more officers are being detailed for 90 days to the International Support Branch in Anaheim, Calif. to process the Ciudad Juarez cases.
There will be a 30 day grace period before July 3, 2012, during which individuals will have a choice to file I-601 applications with the lockbox or overseas if they have appointments to file. On or after July 5, 2012 (July 4th is a legal holiday), appointments to file I-601 applications overseas will all be canceled. For posts with walk-in procedures, applications will be continue to be accepted during the grace period. An I-601 which is in the mail is acceptable as long as mailed by July 3, 2012. [This is presumably for posts which allow a mail-in procedure.] If mailed on July 5, 2012 or later, the application will be returned to the applicant to file with the lockbox.
The Nebraska Service Center held training on April 9, 2012 and ran a pilot test phase on April 16, 2012 in which it tested its officers and systems on I-601s. According to the Service Center Operations spokesperson, both passed. He also spoke of the largeness benefit of I-601 Service Center filing as the Center is large and can more easily shift resources. He gave a three month time goal to adjudicate the I-601 waivers. When adjudicated, electronic notice will be sent to counsel, and a secure spreadsheet format and e-mail to the consulate of the decision.
On the question of whether a filer needs to attach a copy of the inadmissibility finding, the answer was "no" as a Service Center officer will be able to access the information on the Consolidated Consular Database (CCD).
This article © 2011 Alan Lee, Esq.
Alan Lee is a 30+ year practitioner of immigration law based in New York City holding an AV preeminent rating in the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory and registered in the Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers. He was also recently named to the New York Super Lawyers list. He was awarded the Sidney A. Levine prize for best legal writing at the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law in 1977 and has written extensively on immigration over the past years for Interpreter Releases, Immigration Daily, and the ethnic newspapers, World Journal, Sing Tao, Pakistan Calling, Muhasha and OCS. He has testified as an expert on immigration in civil court proceedings and was recognized by the Taiwan government in 1985 for his work protecting human rights. His article, "The Bush Temporary Worker Proposal and Comparative Pending Legislation: an Analysis" was Interpreter Releases' cover display article at the American Immigration Lawyers Association annual conference in 2004, and his victory in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in a case of first impression nationwide, Firstland International v. INS, successfully challenged INS' policy of over 40 years of revoking approved immigrant visa petitions under a nebulous standard of proof. Its value as precedent, however, was short-lived as it was specifically targeted by the Bush Administration in the Intelligence Reform Act of 2004.
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