USCIS Summer 2007 Application Surge: "How Is It Affecting You Now?" May 30, 2008
The following are questions from the teleconference and the answers received from USCIS.
1. I-140 Prolonged Processing Times -- One caller noted that the processing times for I-140s have not moved in the last year. What is the reason for the prolonged processing times for the I-140s?
2. Inconsistent Processing Times – A caller asked why the Vermont Service Center (VSC) is so far behind in processing the I-140 applications compared to the other service centers? Do service centers have different priorities?
3. Pre-adjudication -- Can USCIS provide further clarification on whether there is pre-adjudication of I-140s?
4. Medical Examination Requirement -- USCIS suspended the physical exam requirement during the surge and noted that it could be forwarded later upon request. When will the applicant be notified regarding the medical exam? What if the applicant travels and cannot respond timely?
5. AC21 Portability – A caller asked if USCIS will allow flexibility in AC21 portability because of the delays related to the surge?
6. Fingerprints Notices -- Several callers noted that they have not yet received fingerprint notices and are concerned that their case is further delayed. When should an applicant expect to receive a fingerprint notice?
7. Inconsistent Information with Customer Service Avenues -- One caller noted that he filed an I-140/I-485 petition with the Nebraska Service Center (NSC). The case was transferred to the VSC and later to the Texas Service Center (TSC). USCIS’ National Customer Service Center indicated that the case was at the VSC, but USCIS’ Case Status Online indicated that the case was at the TSC. The receipt notices for the I-140 and I-485 note different service centers. Does USCIS split up I-140 and I-485 petitions that are concurrently filed? How can the applicant find out where the case is actually being processed?
Note – Answers to other important questions asked during this call may be answered in connection with other Ombudsman teleconferences.
Questions Received Prior to the Call
1. Green Card Cases Pending Due to FBI Name Checks – The email indicated that earlier USCIS identified about 47,000 cases pending FBI security clearance for more than six months. The email asked if USCIS could confirm that those cases were adjusted accordingly by the respective service centers.
2. Joint USCIS FBI Press Release on Name Checks – The email noted that in an April 2, 2008 joint press release, “USCIS and FBI Release Joint Plan to Eliminate Backlog of FBI Name Checks,” certain milestones were established. The email asked if USCIS could describe the progress of these targets.
3. Transferred Cases – Can USCIS explain what is happening to cases that were transferred, for example, from the Nebraska Service Center to the Texas Service Center? One person emailed and said it appears that those cases have a lower priority for processing. Please clarify.
4. R-1 Extension – The email indicated that the individual filed Form I-129 for an R-1 extension last year in May and the visa expired in July. The question was how much longer to wait?
5. Posted Processing Times – The email indicated that the I-140 was pending more than 320 days even though USCIS’ posted processing times showed that the application already should have been processed. Are the processing times a real reflection of what is going on?
6. Tracking Case Status – The email asked how to track the status of an I-140 application if it is not listed on USCIS’ Case Status Online and the call center does not have any information?
7. Fingerprints -- Fingerprints are valid for 15 months and the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) is valid for one year. The email noted that requiring the applicant to obtain fingerprints for the EAD renewal leads to processing delays for the EAD and places an unnecessary burden on the applicant who may have to take off work. Why does USCIS require the applicant to obtain new fingerprints before they expire?