The Mexican Pilot Program provides a process for the rapid adjucation of waiver applications by USCIS. The process can be broken down into four distinct steps:
The process begins at the IV consular interview when an alien is deemed inadmissible on awaivable ground by a consular official. The applicant can then schedule a waiver appointment by calling the Call Center.
2. Waiver Appointment
At the waiver appointment, the consular official handling the case will pass the waiver to the adjudicating USCIS officer in the neighboring room. The USCIS officer will then make a 5-minute review and conduct immediate judgment on the waiver. If the USCIS officer approves the waiver, then the file is returned to the consular official and the official then grants the immigrant visa either in approximately 1-3 weeks. If the officer determines that the waiver is not clearly approvable it is referred to the original adjudication process.
3. Original Process
If the applicant has been referred to the original adjudicating process, then the applicant must wait until the USCIS office has reviewed their file. Due to a backlog, this review can take up to a year. The USCIS officer in charge of reviewing their file will either approve their waiver or deny it. If approved, the waiver is sent to the consular office where the official will grant the immigrant visa in approximately1-3 weeks. If denied, the applicant can either appeal to the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) or apply again with new evidence and circumstances.***
4. AAO – Administrative Appeals Office
If the applicant is denied and chooses to appeal, they are presented with two options. They may either choose to appeal directly to the AAO, in which case the consular office will give one final review of the file before sending it to the AAO, or they may request that the case be reopened and the decision reconsidered by the consular office. In the case of the former, if the AAO denies their appeal, then the applicant must submit a new waiver and restart the process to receive further consideration. In the case of the latter, the consular office will give a final verdict on the file with no further referral or adjucation. As with the AAO option, if the applicant is denied then they must restart the process to receive further consideration. If the applicant is approved through either one of the options then the immigrat visa is granted.
*** The Law Office of Ruby L. Powers has assisted several waiver denials in which the client either: 1. hired a ‘notario,’ 2. filed the waiver application themselves, or 3. hired another immigration attorney, and Firm was able to get the waiver approved on the second try.
In the decade since the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) were created in the wake of 9/11/01, senior officials in these agencies have repeatedly asserted that their primary enforcement mission was to deport terrorists, persons who threatened the national security and serious criminals from the United States.
An examination of millions of case-by-case government records about the day-to-day actions of the DHS and ICE, however, has determined that these frequent claims — made by senior executives under both President Bush and President Obama — are misleading.
The contrast between the official pronouncements and actual achievements of the government during the last twenty years has been documented in an analysis by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) of case-by-case records of all deportation proceedings initiated by ICE, and its predecessor agency (the Immigration and Naturalization Service, or INS), in the Immigration Courts.
The data — current through July 26, 2011 — were obtained by TRAC under the Freedom of Information Act from the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) which maintains these official immigration court records.
Post 9/11 U.S. Immigration Policy
A report by the Migration Policy Institute (CAP) reviews the response to 9/11 in U.S. immigration policy by examining the state of affairs in 2001 before 9/11, and the subsequent legislation and policies. The report also explores the debate on comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) during the years of 2006-2010 and the reasons for its failure.
Read the report, “U.S. Immigration Policy Since 9/11: Understanding the Stalemate over Comprehensive Immigration Reform” on MPI’s website.
From what I can tell, so much has changed in immigration since 9/11. They have updated databases, they created SEVIS to monitor foreign students, and they created the Department of Homeland Security. I briefly worked in DC for the US House of Representatives’ Committee on Homeland Security in 2004. This would be a good read.
BY ALIYA STERNSTEIN 08/18/2011
The investigation began in January 2008, when officials at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which is part of Homeland Security, reported to the department’s inspector general that numerous personnel had violated federal security rules at the agency’s Texas Service Center, one of four regional centers that handle a variety of immigration-related petitions and applications. According to the materials obtained, employees and supervisors abused system logon privileges, gained unauthorized access in some instances and then allegedly sabotaged audit logs to leave behind no traces of their illicit activities. IG papers list the redacted names of 17 subjects of the investigation, all of whom were information technology specialists.
The evidence of breaches at the center is the latest revelation of insider threats at USCIS. With their ill-gotten access rights, the Texas personnel were capable of, for example, granting citizenship rights, as well as reading files containing sensitive information on contract awards, immigration reform or other policy formulations, say former USCIS IT officials there at the time.
Wow, this is horrible. They need better oversight.
Ciudad Juarez I-601 Waiver Timeline
August 25, 2011 by I-601 Waiver Attorney, Ruby L. Powers
A common question I am asked by potential clients whose only option to obtain legal permanent residency for their spouse or fiancé from Mexico is, ‘How long will it take?’ The answer is not concrete but depends on several variables but I can give a general idea. The fastest with no complications, a very engaged client, and a pilot program approval would about 9-10 months from I-130-I-601 approval according to today’s processing times. In this ideal situation above, of that time if the client was in the US before the visa appointment, the client would be in Mexico 3-3.5 months.
But there are so many variables that it is best to discuss the steps and their timing. Also, it is important that anyone beginning this process understands that there is a possibility that the loved one cannot return to the US for 10 years.
First, the I-130 petition usually takes between 3-5 months for USCIS to adjudicate. My most recent I-130 was approved in 3 months. Although USCIS processing times list 5 months on their website. For a fast adjudication, a well-documented I-130 is essential.
Once the I-130 is approved, the file is forwarded to the National Visa Center (NVC). The fee bills, which basically means advance payment for consular services, usually arrive within 4 weeks. With the new electronic NVC system, the DS-260 Immigrant Visa Application and I-864 Affidavit of Support can be sent in with supporting documents within a week of paying fee bills. This is where the case can slow down if the client is unsure or if they are not prepared for the next steps.
From the point NVC has the DS-260/I-864, it has been taking about 4 weeks for NVC to process. I am also usually following up and making sure NVC has everything. They changed the process a lot the last few months with the MEP filing and DS-260 so I follow up after a month of submission to make sure there are no problems. Then, we receive an email with the visa appointment scheduled in Ciudad Juarez. Recently, from the date of notice of the appointment and the visa appointment, it is about 3-4 weeks. Not a lot of time if you aren’t prepared. I normally like my clients to have their waiver started and almost finished by the time their family member leaves for Juarez.
Once we have the visa appointment, the client needs to schedule a biometric appointment about two days before the visa appointment and also plan to do a medical exam. Only after the biometric appointment is scheduled, should you schedule your flights and travel plans to Juarez.
After the initial interview and expected denial, the client can leave Juarez but needs to schedule their I-601 waiver appointment. The I-601 appointment timing varies. A year or two ago, the waiver appointment could be two days after the visa appointment, then it was 2 weeks later and now it has become approximately 2 months later. From what I have learned, this time allows for USCIS to do a FBI background check and make sure there no problems.
At the waiver appointment, the client submits their waiver application. My firm prepares a complete packet including: cover letter, I-601 with filing fee, G-28, and G-325, legal brief, qualifying relative’s affidavit, and supporting documentation. As of Aug 25, 2011, the Juarez waiver results have been taking about a month from the waiver appointment to learn whether the client was approved in the pilot program or referred or put on the slow track.
Approved in the pilot program means the waiver was approved favorably and as fast as Juarez could adjudicate it. Approximately 50% of waivers through Juarez are approved through the pilot program. If there was information missing or the waiver didn’t appear to have sufficient hardship at first glance, the client has an old A number, criminal record or any other complication, then the waiver is usually referred for further review. According to a recent referral notice, USCIS states it takes 12 months to adjudicate referred waivers. According to a recent USCIS CDJ email, it states they are taking 10 months. According to their website, they are taking 13-15 months. Memos, meetings, and notices state that USCIS is trying to get that processing time to 6 months and has been sending their waivers to other offices in the US for help to decrease the backlog. They have had the 6-month goal for about 2 years. I think that the referral adjudication is close to 10 months right now.
When USCIS adjudicates a referred case, it can either be approved or denied. If approved, you might have to update some documents like medical, I-864, etc at the Consulate because those have expired from so much time passing. If denied, you can either reapply or appeal.
If you reapply, it is possible to reapply starting at the waiver stage and not having to start all over again. Appeals take about 2 years to be adjudicated. Depending on the circumstances, I generally suggest reapplying.
If approved in the pilot program, it can take a couple of weeks to get the visa in the passport. But once you have it in the passport, you can travel to the US and your green card will soon follow.
It is important to understand that the I-601 process is a serious undertaking. It requires that families be prepared and know that significant time, money and risk is involved. You should make sure you are working with an immigration attorney you trust, cares about your case and is promptly responding to your communication. If the waiver is denied, the law requires that the intending immigrant remain outside the U.S. for a specific period. For many, this period is ten years.
In the end, with a strong case and the required preparation and patience, an approved I-601 waiver will provide a family security and joy knowing that their family member is in legal status, can live in the US, and has work authorization, ability to travel and a path to citizenship. An experienced attorney and an engaged client can make a huge difference in this process. Like many things in life, there is a great deal of work and risk involved before receiving a great reward.
Ruby L. Powers is an immigration attorney and owner of the Law Office of Ruby L. Powers which is located in Houston, TX. She represents individuals and businesses in all areas of immigration law all over the world. She enjoys reuniting families by helping them obtain I-601 waiver approvals.
August 24, 2011
By CAMERON LANGFORD
HOUSTON (CN) – Texas says a woman is practicing immigration law without a license, telling suckers she can legalize them as religious workers if they join her “church” – and that at least 300 people have fallen for it.
The Texas attorney general sued Yolanda Salazar Perez and her “church,” Nueva Uncion, or the New Anointing Biblical Institute, and three of her alleged cohorts, who are members of her family, in Harris County Court.
People need to be very careful of scams. There are people out there who say they can ‘fill out a form’ for you. Immigration is not just ‘filing out forms.’ There is law to it. Be careful.
Ruby L. Powers
US Immigration Attorney
USCIS American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) EB-5 Committee Meeting
August 10, 2011
Great list brings the info down to 10 key points, from Reform Immigration for America blog posting:
Here are the 10 Things You Should Know about DHS’s Announcement:
A report by the Center for American Progress looks at the decline in immigration from Mexico and examines factors that have contributed, such as Mexico’s aging population and growing economy. The report concludes that decreased immigration provides an “opportune time” to implement sound immigration policy. Read the report, “What Changes in Mexico Means for U.S. Immigration Policy,” on CAP’s website.
I haven’t read the entire 27-page report but I will soon. I am not very shocked by the results. I have had had consultations or heard of many Mexicans returning back to Mexico because they can’t find employment in the US and it has become very hard to live in the US illegally with tougher driver’s license laws and stricter employment verification and workplace enforcement.
Ruby L. Powers
Houston Immigration Attorney