CIS Ombudsman’s Office Updates: 2011

The Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) Ombudsman, January Contreras, addressed matters of concern in May 2011 at an American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) meeting attended by a number of attorneys from the Murthy Law Firm. The CIS Ombudsman’s role is to assist with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) problem resolution, whether regarding an individual case or system-wide issues or problems. The following summarizes some of the matters being addressed by the CIS Ombudsman.

Driver’s License Issues Tied to Immigration Status

The official agencies in charge of the issuance of drivers’ licenses vary from state to state. These are sometimes known as the Department of Motor Vehicles (or DMV), and sometimes the Motor Vehicle Administration (or MVA). From one state to another, they may require different immigration documentation from individuals seeking drivers’ licenses or renewals.

Many MurthyDotCom and MurthyBulletin readers may have experienced complications related to drivers’ license renewals. DMV/MVAs often require an immigration document that carries an approval and a set date of expiration. Thus, it is not unusual for individuals who are legally in the United States, based on pending (but not yet approved) immigration filings, to face delays or problems. Similarly, those with documents that expire on an annual basis may have to cope with corresponding driver’s license renewals each year.

The Ombudsman’s office is aware of the immigration-related driver’s license concerns. In order to address these problems on a national scale, the Ombudsman’s office will be meeting with the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators to discuss the various problems that exist and to work on assisting the DMV/MVAs with concerns related to understanding the various documents that evidence immigration status.

Improper Case Rejections: Submit Examples to CIS

The Ombudsman’s office generally needs specific examples in order to attempt remedying a problem. In this connection, it has requested specific examples of erroneous rejections of properly filed petitions and applications. This pertains to cases that are rejected entirely, primarily by the mailroom. It does not include cases that were accepted, but denied for legal or procedural reasons.

Also requested are examples of the USCIS not having provided proper notice of changes in mailing address information for various types of cases. This includes situations in which the existing instructions are unclear.

Assistance in Individual Cases: File Form 7001

As mentioned above, the CIS Ombudsman provides assistance in individual cases, when appropriate. It reported that it has a caseload of between 4,000 and 5,000 cases per year. It requests that each individual try to resolve his/her case through routine channels before involving the Ombudsman. However, when it is necessary to seek assistance through the Ombudsman, it is important to submit copies of case-related documents, so that the situation can be fully understood and assessed. Requests for assistance are filed on Form 7001. It is recommended that the 7001 be filed so that the Ombudsman’s office can keep track and respond to the filing.

If there have been prior discussions with USCIS officers or customer service staff, their reference numbers should be provided. This will allow the Ombudsman to follow up directly with the appropriate individual/s. The instructions and guidelines for individual case assistance are available online.


The Ombudsman’s office has been and continues to be an important source for assistance from and improvements at the USCIS. This office provides an avenue toward individual case resolutions, and system-wide problems, when other efforts have proven unsuccessful.

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Disclaimer: The information provided here is of a general nature and may not apply to any specific or particular circumstance. It is not to be construed as legal advice nor presumed indefinitely up to date.