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I-140/I-485的新程序与老问题:移民局在TSC会议上的说明
作者:刘宗坤律师     发文时间: 2010年06月08日 04:05:55
I-140/I-485的新程序与老问题:移民局在TSC会议上的说明

Christina Le, Associate Attorney at Liu & Associates, PLLC

On May 20, attorneys at Liu & Associates attended a meeting with U.S.
Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) officials at the Texas
Service Center (“TSC”) and toured the Records Facility and offices. At
the meeting, we discussed general case issues with officials from USCIS
Headquarters and Supervisors at the TSC, including the specific supervisors
in charge of the employment-based I-140 petitions and I-485 applications.
In the following, we provide a brief summary of new information provided by
USCIS officials at the meeting.

1. General Remarks and Overview
2. The Lockbox Process
3. I-140 Processing and Excessive Documentation
4. Questions about I-485 Processing

1. General Remarks and Overview

Mr. David Roark, the TSC Director, stated that the number of cases being
filed at the TSC is starting to increase after a decline during the last
fiscal year. TSC currently is receiving approximately 4,400 I-140 petitions
and 1,000 I-485 applications each month. For I-140/I-485 cases filed
concurrently, which means they are filed at the same time and received
together, approximately 50% of these cases are adjudicated within 90 days.
Echoing the goal voiced by USCIS Headquarters, Mr. Roark reiterated that TSC
is striving to be more consistent among its decisions and to be more
transparent and accessible to the public.

USCIS Chief Counsel Roxana Bacon announced that USCIS is making great
efforts to catch up to the electronic information age and to take advantage
of computers and the internet. USCIS has contracted with IBM to develop a
transformed data collection system that will be available to all government
agencies and eventually will enable real-time communication with
stakeholders and adjudication of cases. Along these same lines, USCIS is
engaging in agency-wide policy review and reform with an ultimate end goal
of consistency in adjudications. Information about a new, robust electronic
filing system was also mentioned by both other USCIS officials.

2. The Lockbox Process

As many I-485 applicants are aware, at the beginning of 2010, USCIS
announced a procedural change that required all standalone I-485
applications to be mailed to USCIS Lockboxes. Various problems have
resulted with Lockbox processing, including a lengthy delay in receipting
and erroneous rejections. The meeting provided us with the opportunity to
raise our concerns directly with the person in charge of the Lockbox.

Mr. David Hiles, Chief of the Lockbox Operations Division, made a brief
presentation regarding the USCIS decision to migrate all immigration
petition/application intake to Lockbox facilities. In 2007, USCIS decided
to adopt a Lockbox intake procedure similar to that of the Internal Revenue
Service (IRS) and selected JP Morgan to serve as the Lockbox provider. The
Service Centers began to transfer employment-based I-485 applications to the
Lockboxes in December 2009 and have begun to transfer I-140 petitions and I
-539 applications as of May 2010. USCIS aims to complete the migration
process of all forms by the end of 2010.

As background, the Lockbox facility is a big open room that serves as an
automated assembly line where all petitions and applications are received,
sorted, and processed through a high speed scanner. After the documents are
scanned, the electronic data entry system reviews the information in the
forms. The computer system automatically rejects petitions/applications
that are missing specific required fields (e.g., name, date of birth,
signatures, dates, etc.). Because this part of the intake is automated, the
system generates a rejection notice that is not reviewed by a supervisor.
All documents are then returned to the applicant with the rejection notice.
To advance the USCIS goal of family unity and to keep the family together,
USCIS rejects the entire family’s package even if there is a problem with
only one application in the package. All applications that are accepted are
forwarded to the appropriate Service Center.

The majority of employees at the Lockbox facility is hired by JP Morgan and
is not USCIS employees, so they do not have the same training in immigration
law and procedures. Approximately 7 USCIS employees work in the Case
Resolution Unit at each Lockbox facility. These USCIS employees only review
certain applications for missing data, incorrect fees, jurisdiction, and
adjudicates all fee waiver requests.

Mr. Hiles acknowledged the Lockbox has “encountered lots of challenges.”
USCIS is aware of the delays in issuing receipt notices, the problems with
erroneous rejections, and other unanticipated setbacks. He believes many of
the problems with erroneous rejections of I-485 applications that occurred
at the beginning of 2010 have been resolved through additional employee
training, procedural changes, and modifications to the data entry software.
However, the facilities are still working to meet the USCIS goal of
processing applications within 24-48 hours of receipt at the Lockbox. Mr.
Hiles stated USCIS had planned to be current by the end of May, but based on
our experience, the Lockboxes are still far from meeting their processing
goals (the majority of our cases do not receive Receipt Notices until 4-5
weeks after submission).

To help the Lockbox engage in more effective and efficient processing, Mr.
Hiles provided the following tips for Lockbox filing.

- Do not highlight. Highlighting shows up black on the scanner, which
then prevents the electronic data entry system from reading the form.
- Do not use tabs or dividers. Scanners cannot scan tabs or dividers.
Lockbox employees will remove them before scanning.
- The electronic data entry system is designed to accept only one answer.
If a question calls for Yes/No or check one box, do not answer Maybe or
check multiple boxes.
- Provide one filing fee check per individual applicant. Do not put all
family members’ filing fees in one check.
- Include the I-797 notice to show proof of eligibility for I-485
applications.
- Do not print double-sided (duplex). The scanner will only scan one
side.
- When resubmitting rejected filings, do not send the rejection notice.

With regard to I-140 petitions, because the Lockbox intake procedure
requires binding materials and tab dividers to be removed before scanning,
both the TSC directors and our attorneys have expressed concerns regarding
how the Lockbox would handle I-140 petitions and supporting documents that
often comprise hundreds of pages. Specifically, the Director of the TSC, Mr
. Roark, strongly urged USCIS to keep I-140 filings at the Service Center,
so as not to disturb the organization of the supporting documents, which
could result in delays and problems during the adjudication process. With
the USCIS announcement on May 25, it appears the transfer of I-140 petition
intake to the Lockbox will proceed despite the fact that Mr. Hiles stated it
would be impossible for the Lockbox to scan the multitude of documents that
accompany each petition. As with the I-485 applications, we can expect
similar delays and problems as the Lockboxes process more I-140 petitions.

The Texas Service Center

Because we electronically file the majority of our I-140 petitions, our
cases are adjudicated at the Texas Service Center, which comprises three
different office buildings in the Dallas, Texas-area. As evident by its
name, the Records Facility is the building that stores all petitions and
applications that are sent to the TSC and are awaiting adjudication (this
includes thousands of pre-adjudicated I-485 applications awaiting visa
numbers due to retrogression). Employees at the TSC Records Facility are
responsible for receiving all petitions/applications not filed at the
Lockbox, for entering the petitions/applications into the USCIS database,
for creating a USCIS Alien (“A”) file for all petitions/applications, and
for issuing receipt notices. Files remain at the Record Facility until an
Immigration Officer requests the file for adjudication, which is then sent
to a TSC office building about 20 miles away. After adjudication, the file
is returned to the Records Facility.

3. I-140 Processing and Excessive Documentation

For I-140 petitions, approved cases are held at the Records Facility for 60
days after the approval date. Denied cases are held for 90 days after the
denial date. All denials are subject to supervisor review before they are
issued. Denied cases remain at the TSC longer in anticipation of motions to
reopen or appeals. If no further action is taken on a case after this time
, the files are transferred to archive at the National Records Center. If
a petitioner files Form I-290B to reopen or appeal a denied I-140, the file
is returned to the original Immigration Officer at the TSC. The Immigration
Officer will decide whether to reopen and approve the case, a process that
takes about 45 days at the TSC. If the Immigration Officer does not grant
the motion to reopen, the case will be forwarded to the Administrative
Appeals Office (“AAO”) to continue with the appeal. Petitioners/
beneficiaries should keep in mind that when an appeal of an I-140 denial is
pending at the AAO, the TSC will hold all subsequently filed I-140s for the
same classification and not adjudicate the case until the AAO has ruled on
the appeal or until the TSC receives a notice from the AAO that the appeal
has been withdrawn.

The supervisor of the employment-based I-140 petition again warned about
excessive documentation and provided examples of cases. Many petitioners/
beneficiaries have a misunderstanding regarding quantity versus quality and
often assume that more documentation and a thicker file make for a better
case. From our experience, and as reiterated by the officials at the TSC,
this is a misguided perception that may actually be detrimental to the case.
Presentation of the evidence is key, and supporting documents should be
limited to the most important and pertinent documents and should be well
organized. The TSC clearly stated that excessive documentation will result
in the delayed adjudication of the petition because it will be set aside
until two volunteer adjudicators have the time review the case, which can
take many months. These types of cases also are more likely to receive
Requests for Evidence and/or denials due to the lack of organization in the
documents.

Of particular note, the TSC supervisor announced that adjudicators are
awaiting guidance from USCIS Headquarters on the 9th Circuit's ruling in
Kazarian v. Holder. As of this time, the TSC will hold all EB-1A Notice of
Intent to Deny (NOID) and denials until it receives guidance.

4. Questions about I-485 Processing

For I-485 applications, TSC officials clarified a question that is raised
often by our clients: Should the Alien Number or A Number on the OPT
Employment Authorization Document be used on the immigration forms? No.
The EAD A# (usually begins with number “1”) is a temporary number that
expires with the card. I-485 applicants should not put this number on their
forms because this could possibly cause confusion and delay in adjudication
. The only A# that should be included in I-485 and ancillary applications
is the permanent A# (usually begins with number “0” or “2”.

Finally, after the I-485 application is approved, the TSC mails the
permanent resident card aka “green card” directly to the immigrant’s
address of record. If the card is returned as undeliverable, the TSC will
hold the card for 6 months. The immigrant should contact USCIS customer
service to update his/her address, and the TSC will mail the card to the new
address. The TSC will destroy all cards that remain unclaimed after 6
months. After the card is destroyed, the immigrant would need to file Form
I-90 to obtain a replacement card.

Thus, we remind clients to maintain an accurate address on file with USCIS
at all times. Immigration law requires that you file Form AR-11 to update
your address within 10 days of moving. Failure to comply with this
provision can be a ground for removal.

Our firm strives to keep our clients up to date with new information that
affects their immigration cases. Our attorneys believe that active
involvement with the American Immigration Lawyers Association and attendance
at meetings with USCIS officials are an important part of our work. By
communicating with USCIS officials, raising concerns about problems, and
receiving clarification regarding certain issues, we can represent our
clients more effectively. We will continue to attend these important
meetings with USCIS to keep you informed.

********************************************************************
刘宗坤律师(Z. Zac Liu, Esq.),法学博士(J.D., Valparaiso University School
of Law)、哲学博士(Ph.D., Peking University),伊利诺伊州最高法院及联邦法院
执照,曾担任Valparaiso University Law Review的编辑和审稿人, 著有中英文书籍
多种,散见于中美各大学图书馆。执业以来,他已代理无数名来自世界各地的科研人员
和专业人士成功获得绿卡及各类非移民签证,尤其在国家利益豁免(NIW)、特殊人才
(Eb-1A)、杰出教授和研究员(EB-1B)、PERM 劳工证、H-1B工作签证等方面积累了
丰富的经验。有兴趣提出申请的读者,可将简历发往evaluation@niwus.com。刘律师会
在两个工作日内对符合条件的申请做出免费评估。

白凯玲律师 (Kellie Pai, Esq.),法学博士(J.D.,University of Houston Law
Center)、文学学士(B.A., University of Texas at Austin),德克萨斯州最高法院执
照,联邦法院执照,刘宗坤联合律师事务所专业移民律师。

Christina T. Le 律师,法学博士(J.D.,University of Houston Law Center)、文学
学士(B.A., Northwestern University),德克萨斯州最高法院执照,联邦法院执照,
曾任Department of Justice驻Houston移民法庭Attorney Advisor,现任刘宗坤联合律
师事务所专业移民律师。

Sabrina Ong律师,法学博士 (J.D., Michigan State University College of Law)、
文学学士 (B.A., Oklahoma State University),密西根州最高法院执照,曾任
Michigan State University Law Review编辑,密西根上诉法院Prehearing Research
Attorney,现任刘宗坤律师事务所专业移民律师。

Liu & Associates, PLLC
Wells Fargo Tower, 8th Floor
6161 Savoy Drive, Suite 830
Houston, Texas 77036
Tel: (800) 878-1807
(713) 974-3893
Fax: (866) 608-2766
Email: zliu@niwus.com
Website: www.niwus.com



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