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The Ombudsman's Annual Report to Congress

By statute, the Office of the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman submits an Annual Report to Congress by June 30 of each year. The Ombudsman’s Annual Report must provide a summary of the most pervasive and serious problems encountered by individuals and employers applying for immigration benefits with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The Annual Report also reviews past recommendations to improve USCIS programs and services.

Annual Report 2018

2018 Annual Report Highlights

  • USCIS Anti-Fraud Initiatives: Over the past 6 years, the Fraud Detection and National Security (FDNS) Directorate's authorized staffing levels more than doubled from 756 positions in FY 2012 to 1,548 positions in FY 2018.  In 2017, as part of FDNS's move toward a "risk-based" anti-fraud model, it expanded site visits to more employers and incorporated more electronic solutions.  FDNS is improving its metrics for measuring case processing, but would benefit from the electronic case processing system envisioned by USCIS' transformation project.

  • Transformation: In 2017, USCIS revised its overarching electronic case management and benefits processing goals.  USCIS now prioritizes the development of core capabilities, which cut across all form types.  While USCIS continues with these efforts, it should be noted stakeholders reported improvements in electronic immigration system (ELIS) functionality but continue to voice concerns over a range of ELIS issues.
     
  • Background Checks: Background checks are essential for maintaining the integrity of our immigration system.  Over the past several years, USCIS' workload has increased substantially, both in volume and complexity, providing additional challenges for improving both integrity and efficiency.  USCIS could improve public confidence in its efforts by providing the public more information on its process to review long-pending cases.
     
  • Affirmative Asylum Backlog: As of March 31, 2018, USCIS had well over 300,000 affirmative asylum applications pending a final decision from the Asylum Division. While the backlog can be traced to the growing number of individuals filing asylum claims, the cause of the backlog stems from several converging factors. USCIS has taken a series of steps to reduce its pending caseload, but despite hiring new staff, changing processes, and opening additional offices, reducing the backlog will take time and present an ongoing challenge.
     
  • EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program: While the EB-5 Program remains attractive to foreign investors, many stakeholders, including members of Congress, have increasingly voiced concerns regarding fraud and abuse, which undermine the original purpose of the program and detract from potential benefits offered by it. USCIS has sought to address these concerns through a range of reforms. It remains to be seen how these reforms will improve the integrity of the EB-5 Program and whether they will be sufficient to reassure those who seek increased oversight.

Complete Annual Reports and Executive Summaries

If you have difficulties accessing a file or need assistance, please contact CIS Ombudsman.

More Information

Last Published Date: June 29, 2018

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