Saturday, March 29, 2008

USCIS Works To Clear Green Card Delays

USCIS has confirmed it is conducting "sweeps" of applications for Adjustment of Status cases that can be reviewed for adjudication under its new policy of approving case that have been pending security checks for more than 180 days. USCIS has asked applicants to hold off on submitting inquiries on cases at the Service Centers that were delayed due to background checks until after April 30, 2008. CIS hopes to have identified and taken action on cases by that date.

In a report to Congress on the backlog problem, the Immigration Ombudsman stated that "as of May 2007, USCIS reported a staggering 329,160 FBI name check cases pending . . . with approximately 32 percent (106,738) pending over one year." The Ombudsman further stated that, "Delays in the name check process actually prolong an individual's presence in the United States while the check is pending. In this sense, the current USCIS name check policy may increase the risk to national security by extending the time a potential criminal or terrorist remains in the country."

The policy change provides that applications for immigrant benefits that have been pending with the Service for FBI name check requests and have been pending for more than 180 days can be approved without further wait. The policy change applies to applications for Adjustment of Status (I-485) and Applications for Waivers for Inadmissibility, but does not apply to Applications for Naturalization (N-400). Applicants will still need to wait until FBI fingerprint checks are completed and approved although applications waiting name checks can proceed. The apparent justification for the policy change on green cards as opposed to citizenship is that a negative name check response following a green card approval can result in action to revoke the green card. That is not necessarily true with citizenship applications where actions to revoke citizenship are far more difficult to accomplish.

Immigrant applicants that have applications for more than 180 days should contact their attorney immediately to expedite an approval.

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