BCIS Telephone Customer Service
I wanted to alert you all to a potentially serious development at the BCIS that could cause a drastic deterioration in the level of customer service at the agency. As many of you know, with the exception of the Missouri Service Center, information officers are available by telephone at the BCIS regional service centers in Texas, California, Nebraska and Vermont. It can sometimes take dozens of attempts and waits of several hours, but there is no choice but to speak to an information officer to resolve a problem with a case.
Now the BCIS is even planning on taking that most basic level of service away. Customers of the agency will now have to call a central 800 number and speak with officers who have no information on cases pending at the service centers. The person who fields that call will then forward the information to the service center handling the case and the customer will have to wait for a written response. Any seasoned immigration lawyer reading this is probably already bristling at this prospect. We're frequently told to fax inquiries to the service centers and we pretty much take for granted that we will NEVER get a response - in writing, by phone, or in any way. Let it be noted for the record that I predict that for most people, inquiries will seemingly go into a black hole. And for those lucky enough to get a response, they can expect to hear back in months and not days.
I know that there are many Congressional liaisons that read my writings. You are about to be inundated on a permanent basis with calls from people who need help and are no longer able to resolve matters on their own. You might want to give a heads up to the members of Congress who employ you to warn them about what is coming. We hope you will urge them to let the BCIS know that changes like this that make the agency less accountable and less service-oriented are NOT acceptable.
Gregory Siskind is a partner in Siskind, Susser, Haas & Devine's Memphis, Tennessee, office. After graduating magna cum laude from Vanderbilt University, he received his Juris Doctorate from the University of Chicago. Mr. Siskind is a member of AILA, a board member of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, and a member of the ABA, where he serves on the LPM Publishing Board as Marketing Vice Chairman. He is the author of several books, including the J Visa Guidebook and The Lawyer's Guide to Marketing on the Internet. Mr. Siskind practices all areas of immigration law, specializing in immigration matters of the health care and technology industries. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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