USCIS System for Addressing Clear Errors Promptly04 Jun 2012
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has instituted new procedures designed to facilitate prompt resolution of certain specific, clear USCIS case processing errors. The procedures and case types that may be addressed through this expedited case review are explained here for the benefit of MurthyDotCom readers.
5-Day Goal for Resolving Certain Limited Errors
The newly established procedures are an avenue for obtaining case review within a targeted goal of five (5) business days. This option is available only in the instance of a USCIS data entry error or other administrative error that results in the denial of a case. To request this review, it is necessary to contact the National Customer Service Center (NCSC) at 1.800.375.5283 and ask for an expedited service request.
This is NOT a system to simply request faster action in a case. It is also not a system for bypassing the need to file a motion or appeal to challenge a decision based upon claims of mistake in the application of the law or mistake in the interpretation of the facts of the case. As explained, it is only for specified types of fundamental clerical or administrative errors.
Other Ways to Expedite Cases
Those who are interested in requesting faster action on their cases may use the premium processing service, if available. Otherwise, such special consideration necessitates that the case fit within specified expedite criteria as set out on the USCIS WebSite and shared in articles available on MurthyDotCom.
Only Four Categories of Administrative Errors Qualify
This 5-day swift resolution process is available only for four listed categories of errors. These are:
- Denials based solely upon failure to submit a response to a request for evidence (RFE), notice of intent to deny (NOID), or notice of intent to revoke (NOIR) when a response was timely filed to the correct location [In these cases, it is necessary to prove that a response was received by the USCIS. Thus, as with all immigration filings, it is important to use a traceable type of delivery service and keep copies of all filings.]
- Denials based upon failure to respond to an RFE, NOID, or NOIR, if there is evidence that the request or notice was never transmitted to the correct individual. [It can be difficult to establish that an individual did not receive a document. This typically is more easily proven by businesses and law firms that routinely log and track their mail. ]
- Denials for abandonment based upon a failure to appear at a biometrics appointment, or failure to respond to an RFE, NOID, or NOIR because the notice or request was sent to an incorrect address [This is only possible if the applicant or petitioner has provided correct updated address information. It is not a mistake on the part of the USCIS if mail is sent to an old address because no notification of an address change was every provided.]
- Denials for failure to appear at a biometrics appointment, when there is proof that the appointment was rescheduled
Follow Up by USCIS After Request for Expedited Review
Once an individual, employer, or representative calls the USCIS and asks for an expedited service request, the USCIS will endeavor to take action within five business days. The USCIS has said that this timeframe may not be possible if there is an extended delay between the denial decision and the call to the USCIS. This is in part attributable to file transfers that occur within 30 days of a decision, which may necessitate retrieval of a file, causing delay.
If the NCSC concludes that the case appears to fit within one of the four allowable categories of error, it will create an expedited service request. This will be routed to the USCIS office that made the decision in question. The appropriate office is supposed to review the case and respond within five business days, when possible.
Responses could include instructions to appear at a field office to present evidence in support of a claimed error. Alternatively, the USCIS may admit to the error and provide information regarding the outcome or timetable for further communications. If the USCIS finds no qualifying error on their part, this will be stated in the response. Finally, if the USCIS cannot make a decision in five business days, it should be so stated in the response and the delay should be explained with an estimated schedule for further response.
Delays in Responding by Regular Mail per Ombudsman
A number of attorneys from the Murthy Law Firm attended an American Immigration Lawyers Association meeting with the CIS Ombudsman on May 23, 2012. A discussion took place regarding real-world experiences with the expedite process. The Acting Ombudsman specified that, while the USCIS response in such cases potentially will be issued within five business days, decisions will be transmitted by regular mail, delaying them by at least a few additional days, to allow for processing by the U.S. Postal Service. The Ombudsman expressed the hope to make improvements in the system in the future.
File Motions or Appeals Within Legal Deadlines
Those who believe they have cases that appear to fit within the criteria set out above should follow the procedures to have their denials addressed. If this system works as intended, it will become much easier to resolve these purely clerical or administrative errors without the need to file motions to reopen or appeals, incurring additional fees for legal representation and processing. To protect your case and your immigration options, however, it is important to be mindful of the tight deadline for challenging any denial and the importance of moving forward with the appropriate challenge, like filing the MTR or an appeal, if the matter is not otherwise resolved promptly.
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