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Recommendations by the Ombudsman: 2008-2009 Archive

2009 Recommendations

Recommendation #43 issued on October 23, 2009

Temporary Acceptance of Filed Labor Condition Applications (LCAs) for Certain H-1B Filings (PDF, 2 pages - 30 KB)

In August and September 2009, the Ombudsman received complaints concerning H-1B cases with incorrectly denied Labor Condition Applications (LCA/ETA-9035) filed with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). LCA processing delays and errors at DOL, when coupled with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services' (USCIS) current H-1B petition initial filing requirements, are prejudicing employers and individuals who are unable to timely file original or extension H-1B visa petitions. Untimely H-1B petition filings lead to problems, including:

  1. the potential loss of employees’ legal status;
  2. business operation disruptions due to the loss of continuity in the employment of key employees; and
  3. economic loss to employees in the form of lost wages and costs of travel overseas due to loss of status.

USCIS has the authority to mitigate the impact upon these customers and the Ombudsman makes recommendations to do so.

USCIS Implements CIS Ombudsman’s Recommendation #43 on Temporary Acceptance of Filed Labor Condition Applications (LCAs) for Certain H-1B Filings. See USCIS Update November 5, 2009 (PDF, 1 page - 28 KB)

Recommendation #42 issued on May 15, 2009

Motions Matter: Improving the Filing and Review Process for Motions to Reopen or Reconsider (PDF, 11 pages – 120 KB)

The Ombudsman has made the following recommendations to address customer and stakeholder concerns and confusion about the filing and review process for motions to reopen and reconsider before USCIS. Like an appeal, which is not available in every circumstance, motions to reopen or reconsider provide USCIS customers with an opportunity to obtain review or reexamination of a decision that has already been issued on an application or petition. Motions play an essential role in the USCIS adjudications process, lending an additional measure of quality assurance to USCIS decisions.

Recommendation #41 issued on April 1, 2009

Improving the Process for Payment of USCIS Filing Fees and Other Costs (PDF, 9 pages - 188 KB)

The Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman has reviewed current USCIS examines payment methods, and recommends options to improve customer service and make the process of paying and receiving filing fees and other payments more convenient and efficient for both customers and the agency.

Recommendation #40 issued on March 18, 2009

Employment Creation Immigrant Visa (EB-5) Program Recommendations (PDF, 17 pages - 148 KB)

The Ombudsman has reviewed USCIS policies and processes concerning the Employment Creation EB-5 immigrant visa, and formed several recommendations that USCIS should implement to stabilize and energize the program.

Recommendation #39 issued on January 29, 2009

Improving the Process for Victims of Human Trafficking and Certain Criminal Activity: The T and U Visa (PDF, 19 pages - 231 KB )

The Ombudsman recommends that USCIS expeditiously provide adequate resources to efficiently process cases for victims of human trafficking and specified criminal activity. The Ombudsman also recommends that USCIS implement procedures to enable qualified victims to work while their non-immigrant applications are pending.

2008 Recommendations

Recommendation #38 issued on December 22, 2008

Observations on the E-Verify Experience in Arizona and Recommended Customer Service Enhancements (PDF, 9 pages – 125 KB)

E-Verify is an Internet-based program that permits registered employers to verify a new hire's legal ability to work in the United States. E-Verify is currently offered to employers on a voluntary basis nationwide. However, some states have enacted legislation mandating the use of E-Verify with varying requirements. The Office of the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman conducted a study to gain insights into how E-Verify is working in a universal, mandatory-use environment, and to determine how E-Verify might perform if nationally mandated by immigration reform legislation. Based on observations and analysis of E-Verify, the Ombudsman recommends that USCIS:

  1. Simplify the language used in all E-Verify instructions and supporting documentation;
  2. Make all registration and operational documents publicly available on-line for review by prospective E-Verify end-users and employees;
  3. Ensure E-Verify education and outreach efforts reach small business communities;
  4. Develop and add a tickler/calendar system into E-Verify capable of issuing timely system prompts to employers to advise them of their next appropriate course of action for each specific open and unresolved Tentative Nonconfirmation (TNC);
  5. Announce as a stated goal an intention to replace the current Form I-9 (Employment Eligibility Forms) process for employers that voluntarily use E-Verify.

Recommendation #37 issued on December 16, 2008

Study and Recommendations on Naturalization Oath Ceremonies (PDF, 13 pages - 187 KB)

With USCIS naturalizing more than 1,000,000 new citizens in FY 2008, the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman initiated a study of naturalization ceremonies in June 2008. The Ombudsman observed 19 large and small scale administrative and judicial ceremonies in six districts nationwide and interviewed customers, agencies and USCIS staff present. This study and these recommendations address how USCIS can:

  1. expeditiously perform meaningful naturalization oath ceremonies that are convenient for individuals even in areas where courts dictate frequency and location;
  2. inform new citizens on procedures to update their status with other governmental agencies and thus ensure access to the benefits to which they are entitled;
  3. most efficiently produce secure and durable naturalization certificates for distribution at the ceremony; and
  4. usefully convey to customers and stakeholders the progress being made on naturalization adjudications.

Recommendation #36 issued on December 5, 2008

Improving the Processing of "Schedule A" Nurse Visas (PDF, 11 pages - 177.75 KB)

The CIS Ombudsman recommends that USCIS: Separate and prioritize Schedule A green card nurse applications so that they can be expedited, without the requirement of a written request, upon immigrant visa availability; and Centralize Schedule A nurse applications at one designated USCIS service center to facilitate more efficient and consistent processing of Schedule A applications. Additionally, the CIS Ombudsman suggests that USCIS: Regularly communicate with DOL and develop points of contacts at DOL to discuss concerns and direct inquiries regarding the processing of nurse immigration applications.

Recommendation #35 issued on October 1, 2008

Recommendations on USCIS Processing Delays for Employment Authorization Documents (PDF, 5 pages - 111 KB)

The CIS Ombudsman recommends that USCIS:

  1. adhere to regulations that state USCIS shall issue Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) within 90 days, or issue interim EADs, to prevent unnecessary loss of employment;
  2. expeditiously provide information to the public stating the cause of EAD processing delays and how the delays will be addressed;
  3. provide consistent guidance to the public regarding EADs pending more than 90 days via the National Customer Service Center toll-free number and local offices; and,
  4. reconsider Ombudsman recommendation FR2006-25 to issue multi-year EADs.
    Additionally, the Ombudsman suggests that:
  5. USCIS consider the following operational procedures to issue interim EADs when applications are pending over 90 days;
  6. modify USCIS I-797 Receipt Notices for Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization) to provide for continued employment authorization; and,
  7. affix fraud proof stickers to expired EADs upon determination of an applicant's eligibility for an extension.

Recommendation #34 issued on April 8, 2008

Recommendation that USCIS clarify its refund of fees procedures and revise the Adjudicator's Field Manual, Section 10.10 "Refund of Fees" accordingly (PDF, 3 pages - 92 KB)
The CIS Ombudsman recommends that USCIS clarify its refund of fees procedures and revise the Adjudicator's Field Manual, Section 10.10 "Refund of Fees" accordingly. The Ombudsman further recommends that USCIS provide customers with a way, such as refund request receipt information, to track the status of the refund.

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