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USCIS National Stakeholder Meeting: 2009 Year in Review

Purpose of Meeting 

To discuss accomplishments for the agency in fiscal year 2009 as well as progress to date since the last meeting with stakeholders.

 

Director’s Remarks

  • We want to respond to concerns and issues of stakeholders to better serve the people they represent
  • What have we done in the engagement arena:
    • Responded to the issues raised at the prior meeting regarding the form N-648
      • Held engagements to discuss in person and over the phon
      • Created an initial draft for comment
      • Revised version based on comments will be published in the Federal Register for public comment
      • Internal engagements have mirrored the external
    • Commenced engagement on the fee waiver
    • Responded to issues about RFEs primarily raised by the business community
      • Dedicated to issuing field guidance
      • This will be informed by stakeholder guidance
    • Lack of precedent decisions
      • With new AAO chief, Perry Rhew, committed to getting these published

Comments and Questions from Stakeholders

  • Customer Service/Access
    • Stakeholders are largely pleased with the new web but raised concerns with access to information in the context of case resolution
    • Concerns regarding access of attorneys to the field offices and service centers – ie, cannot email or call directly
      • With limited resources, need to balance access for non-represented customers and those represented
      • NCSC has been adjusted so that the first question asked is whether or not a person is a representative and then bypasses the rest of the menu and goes directly to making a service request
      • No backlog in service requests and we are looking at improving quality of responses
  • Transparency/Accountability
    • Will the policy on uncertified LCAs be extended?
      • Policy was implemented for 90 days and subject to review based on DOL processing times
      • If the problem persists, it is unlikely we would remove the remedy
    • Concerns with site visits conducted by FDNS – reflect that a high percentage of employees are not present at the work site
      • Inconclusive data could be perceived badly due to the nature of the site visits
      • Acknowledge element of surprise is integral to the inspection
  • Consistency
    • Creating inventory of policy and procedures internally
    • NSEERS – can a memo be issued to the field regarding the willful failure to register
    • Material support issues affect a vulnerable population
      • Secretary Napolitano has exemption authority
      • Priority issue for USCIS
  • Efficiency
    • While processing times have been reduced for such cases as naturalization, some stakeholders are experiencing delays with Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) and travel documents
      • Acknowledge delays may be due to lengthy security checks
    • Stakeholders applauded the hard work done on the U visas by the VSC but questioned if resources were diverted from the VAWA Unit since there seems to be a backlog of VAWA cases
      • No resources were removed from the VAWA Unit although these adjudicators provided training and mentoring 
      • USCIS will look into the backlog
    • Delays with I-730s: is there a resource issue at the NSC?
      • Suspension of the E3 program is putting stress on the I-730 as the remaining avenue of family reunification
      • As of October, the average processing time was 6 months but we know that this needs to be a priority
    • Readjudication process on consular returns is delayed and backlogs exist
      • Area of underperformance but both the CSC and VSC have made huge reductions in the backlog
      • Set a processing time goal of 6 months to avoid future backlogs
    • CSC humanitarian parole cases taking 18-24 months
      • Resources were allocated to bring down backlogs in high volume applications
      • Need to shift resources now to bring down backlogs in lower volume applications
  • Comprehensive Immigration Reform
    • Secretary Napolitano has articulated her dedication to CIR
    • USCIS will be responsible for implementation and will be properly resourced and prepared
    • Possible increase in applications from CIR will not offset budget shortfall since it will also include a dramatic increase in costs
    • CIR will create a logistical issue for access to people and field offices
  • Funding Model
    • Concerns expressed at the possibility of raising fees and cutting staff
    • Despite receiving appropriate funds, cannot bridge the revenue gap caused by lower receipts
    • Options for meeting budget shortfall are unfortunate and USCIS is mindful of the impact on our goals and objectives
    • Relatively short timeline for analysis of possible increases
    • Will provide notice as far in advance as we can
    • Conscious that a fee increase has a greater impact on certain benefit requests
  • Opportunities for Future Collaboration
    • Stakeholders would like to provide further input on public policy issues
    • Deal with issue of notario fraud in advance of Comprehensive Immigration Reform
    • Capacity building especially in underserved areas
      • Concerns about the infrastructure for immigration services in agricultural areas and the lack of BIA accredited agencies
    • Transformation – need engagement from stakeholders and customers
      • Should we continue to receive paper applications
      • Mindful of inaccessibility aspect
      • Does CBO capacity bridge the divide
      • Would place a strain on CBOs during periods of high demand such as with CIR
    • Religious worker regulation – conference call to discuss the regulation one year after
    • Promote citizenship and integration with community groups
      • Expand and capacity build to improve naturalization education
      • Highlight and elevate public awareness of citizenship
      • Administration has appropriated funds and USCIS will be staffing a grants division in the Office of Citizenship
  • Work in partnership with CBOs and advocacy groups to advocate for better programs
Last Reviewed/Updated: 01/12/2010