This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area. Dan Renaud, senior counselor to the director of USCIS, said that when social distancing measures were implemented, staff used video interviews and biometric data to continue processing cases. He also said the agency leveraged allocations to cover overtime for adjudicators. Time-saving accommodations were made for certain applicants.
Doug Rand, senior advisor to the director of USCIS, said people in the health care and child care industries who are renewing their work authorizations can request an expedited review and completion of renewals of their employment authorization documents. The work permit validity period also increased from one to two years for certain “status adjustments” and humanitarian applicants. Meanwhile, in March, USCIS released a final rule to effectively expand premium processing services for cases, which is an additional fee that applicants can pay to expedite their forms. But this expedited service is still handled by humans, and Rand said there is a limit to the number of cases employees can prosecute at a time.
The drop in services provided by USCIS during the pandemic, several humanitarian disasters that occur at unforeseen times, and cuts in non-payroll spending to avoid massive COVID-related leave were aggravated to reveal the inadequacy of the USCIS funding model, the advocate wrote of the people. The recommendations included specific allocations to address the backlog of cases and to cover humanitarian and asylum services that are not paid at the expense of applicants for other immigration needs. The second recommendation was to improve the notification process for Form I-129 beneficiaries. Form I-129 is a petition filed by an employer to extend, amend, or change the status of your nonimmigrant worker.
Currently, USCIS only notifies employers of actions and status changes for the application, but does not notify workers who would in fact benefit from the I-129 petition. According to the CIS Ombudsman, this means that these workers respond to their employers for all the information, which could leave them without state documentation and make them susceptible to abuse. The report called this “administrative efficiency at the expense of equity,” echoing several of the Biden administration's directives to improve the customer experience and the federal workforce as a whole. From now on, eligible nonimmigrant workers are supposed to receive a Form I-94 from their employer, which they carry with them at all times.
Employers keep a copy, but USCIS won't send the form to the workers themselves. The proposed solutions included notifying beneficiaries by mail or online; allowing beneficiaries to track their status online; and having USCIS collaborate with Customs and Border Protection so that applicants can check their Form I-94 status online using passport information. Amelia Brust is digital editor of the Federal News Network. One of the reasons is an increasing number of new immigration cases flooding the system, as both the Obama and Trump administrations issued millions of deportation orders.
Even after the Obama Administration changed its priorities for immigration enforcement, the backlog in immigration court continued. Citizenship and Immigration Services backlog has nearly 5.2 million cases and approximately 8.5 million cases are pending, says CIS Ombudsman Phyllis Coven. While the specific file was designed to address the backwardness of newly arrived families, it did not take into account staggering systemic failures at work, according to immigration lawyers, advocacy organizations and elected officials. People with open immigration cases must now wait for a decision that determines their legal status for an average of 58 months, almost five years.
He said Biden did disable some of the Trump administration's immigration policies, including allowing Immigration and Customs Enforcement lawyers the ability to administratively close or postpone some low-priority immigration cases, and trying to eliminate Migrant Protection Protocols. El Paso-based immigration lawyer Ed Beckett said the delay means an immigrant with a strong asylum application could spend years in limbo before a judge renders a final decision. A spokesman for the Department of Justice's Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR), which oversees the immigration court system, said courts have been relying on technology to continue operations, but blamed the ongoing pandemic for worsening backlog. Jackie Watson, an Austin-based immigration lawyer, said Biden doesn't deserve all the blame since he inherited a system made even more broken by his predecessor.
The increase in new filings of Notices to Appear before an Immigration Judge, which is the first step in deportation proceedings, is about to hit 800,000 during the current fiscal year, which would be a record. While the Obama and Biden Administrations changed their priorities for immigration enforcement to focus on those with criminal records, it is unclear whether such reprioritization will affect the number of cases that overwhelm the courts. Immigration courts in Texas have the highest number of backlog cases in the country, with a number of pending decisions of more than 262,000, according to data compiled by Syracuse University's Transactional Research Access Information Center. People with open immigration cases had to wait around 14.5 months for a decision on their legal status, according to TRAC data.
But the problem can't be solved by asking existing immigration judges to work more or faster, Long says. . .
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