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Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy

USCIS PROPOSING 10% FEE INCREASE

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USCIS used to have a lot of difficulty raising fees and would only get increases approved every few years. They now raise their fees frequently and have just announced their intentions to do so again. In the past, they blamed poor service on the lack of resources and promised - many times - that more money would translate in to better results. I once supported this view. But no longer. USCIS has received massive resource increases over the last several years and expanded the number of examiners greatly. Yet if you talk to seasoned immigration lawyers, there is more of a sense of dealing with an agency completely adrift. There seems to be no accountability for poorly trained examiners who cut and paste denials without really understanding or even caring about the laws they are administering. The agency routinely issues regulations via memoranda that violate the Administrative Procedures Act and Regulatory Flexibility Act. And there has been a dramatic rise in evidence requests and denials with no explanation.

Applicants often pay thousands of dollars in government filing fees. When an examiner botches the job, the applicant's recourse is to pay even more money - possibly thousands of dollars more - in order to get the decision reviewed internally by the same examiner and then to seek an appeal with the AAO. When a grossly poor decision has a devastating effect on an individual, USCIS doesn't even apologize, much less issue a refund of the fee or offer any compensation. In the private sector, you could request a refund, sue for malpractice, file a complaint with a licensing board or the better business bureau, etc. With USCIS, nada.

Of course, the fact that examiners operate in complete anonymity only encourages bad behavior. I'm not aware of any other agency in government where cases are decided this way. One senior USCIS official actually told me that they feared that examiners would be exposed to the threat of violence if they had their identities revealed. Really? Tell that to the IRS which has its auditors operating openly.

When the USCIS shows real accountability for the way it operates, then it would be easier to say that the increase in fees is fair. But the agency has a long way to go before we're at that point. 

I know senior people at USCIS read this blog and I recognize that the town hall meetings that Director Mayorkas and other leaders at the agency have been providing are important. But there is also a widespread feeling out here that these meetings are more about public relations than about solving problems. We have yet to hear anyone in a senior position at the agency even admit that there are serious adjudication problems that need reform. If the agency can't even recognize there is a crisis, what hope is there to solve it.

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Comments

  1. My 2 cents's Avatar
    "If the agency can't even recognize there is a crisis, what hope is there to solve it."

    I think USCIS needs a kick in the @$$ (pun intended)
  2. Dave Bennion's Avatar
    Agreed, the agency is a shambles, but this is no accident. If DHS's goal were to help families reunite or to assist people to stay in status/get right with the law, USCIS wouldn't have the systemic problems it does. DHS's broad purpose as envisioned by Congress and implemented by the Executive is to deport people, and USCIS is just another tool in the toolbox.

    It's not a matter of nibbling at the edges by dutifully filing regulatory comments, attending outreach meetings with local DDs, etc. Nothing short of a major revision of immigration policy will have much impact.
  3. John's Avatar
    Does this proposal nbeds to be okey'd by congress or USCIS or DHS can decide within? If they can without congress then this is non-sense, if they can think better for themself(monetory wise) then i think they also can make simple change on EB visa category by excluding dependants from initial visa quota count or allow all those with approvrd 140 to apply for EAD.

    As Greg mention if the agency does not recognize crisis how will they try to resolve.


    Dont even talk about transperancy! Thats a no no for them. They have started to publish I-485 inventory data and we are at 4th quater and inventory number is down about just 12-14k from initial number out of 42k visas, but there is no word how they are processing or how many visas were issued in the last quater ir month, getting these info are not rocket science.

    USCIS has their own blog up (the Beacon) but there is no 2 way communication (except countable times), again I agree with Greg "Its just PR" nothingelse. With current pace I will have to wait at least another 5 years to get my GC, now the question is " is it worth waiting"
  4. Adi's Avatar
    I also do wish that EAD was given upon I140 approval atleast for people living in US. I fail to understand the need of this artificial date setup via monthly bulletins, especially in case of employment based immigration. I don't think there is any need of intervention by congress on changing these dates.
  5. Another Voice's Avatar
    Just like any government entity it is about it's own survival and protecting their butts!!! With budget cuts due to the deficits they want to make sure their numbers look good, after all it's immigrants that are getting screwed here, in their mind they are probably saying, if you want the "American Dream" is going to cost you.... so pay up!!! Is bad but I am pretty sure that is pretty close to reality....
  6. USC's Avatar
    Time magazine is reporting that Arizona willfully intends to thumb its nose at the US Constitution:

    http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1996064,00.html
  7. George Chell on his way back to the US's Avatar
    Except for innovation and research at US universities we are falling apart. Washington Metro is the biggest example of raising prices while the service collapses all around us. The Immigration service is its mentor.
  8. Love2Watch's Avatar
    I believe that the these USCIS is nothing but money making machines, they asked you to pay the fee and the service is *****. I am talking about the USCIS in the US. It's worst at the US Embassy especially in Manila. You cant even talk to anybody there, their customer service is so bad and treated you like animals. It's a shame.
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