Murthy Law Firm’s Comments on Barriers to USCIS Benefits and Services02 Jun 2021
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a request for public input in April 2021, regarding “…how U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) can reduce administrative and other barriers and burdens within its regulations and policies, including those that prevent foreign citizens from easily obtaining access to immigration services and benefits.” The Murthy Law Firm responded to this request, asking the DHS to make a number of changes that would significantly improve the U.S. immigration system.
Summary of Suggested Improvements
Nearly everyone agrees that the U.S. immigration system needs a serious overhaul. However, many fundamental changes could only be made through an act of Congress. Still, there are important changes that can and should be made without the passage of new legislation. In our comments to the DHS, the Murthy Law Firm focused on five concrete changes that could be implemented in the relatively near future, which would improve the lives of foreign nationals seeking the American dream.
1. Expand Availability for Premium Processing, Especially for I-539 Application to Extend / Change Nonimmigrant Status and I-765 Application for Employment Authorization
In a perfect world, the USCIS would process all applications and petitions within a reasonable time period. But, in practice, this does not always happen. The extension of premium processing to forms I-539 and I-765 would help countless foreign nationals avoid status problems and gaps in employment authorization.
2. End the I-539 Biometrics Requirement Imposed by the Trump Administration
The biometrics requirement for I-539 applications has exacerbated processing delays and is an unnecessary expense for applicants. The USCIS has suspended biometrics temporarily for L-2, H-4, and E-2 dependents. This is a good start, but we recommend this requirement be eliminated for all I-539 applicants.
3. Reduce Backlogs in Oversubscribed Preference Categories by Only Counting the Principal Beneficiary
Backlogs in most of the green card categories are a tremendous hurdle in the U.S. immigration system. But there is a solution. Through regulation, the DHS can clarify that derivative family members issued immigrant visas are not to be individually counted against the immigrant visa quotas established by the Immigration and Nationality Act. Rather, only the principal beneficiary of the approved I-140 or I-130 should be counted against the immigrant visa caps. This would help tremendously in reducing the colossal backlogs.
4. Expand the Online Filing System
It is time that the USCIS finally move completely into the digital age and allow for the use of electronic filing for all or at least the majority of applications and petitions for immigration benefits. This would help streamline the U.S. immigration system. It would also reduce USCIS rejections for missing signatures, wrong place of filing, incorrect fee amounts, requests for additional evidence, and denials due to filing deficiencies.
5. Eliminate the Bridging B-2 Requirement
In 2017, the USCIS imposed a policy requiring that individuals applying for a change from B-1/B-2 to F-1 status maintain valid status until within 30 days of a deferred program start date, as opposed to the actual start date requested in the initial application. This “B-2 bridging” policy was expanded to encompass all applications for change of status to F-1 in 2018. This change has been both costly to applicants and a drain on USCIS resources. It is not based on any law or regulation and should be eliminated entirely.
These recommendations submitted by the Murthy Law Firm to the DHS would not solve all the problems with the U.S. immigration system. However, they would go a long way to creating a better, fairer system that meets the needs of our modern world. A copy of the full letter submitted to the DHS can be found on MurthyDotCom.
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