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Ombudsman's Fourth Annual Conference: Government and Stakeholders Working Together to Improve Immigration Services

Maria Odom
Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman

Last week, the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman's Office hosted its fourth annual conference at the National Archives in Washington D.C., bringing together nearly 300 participants from across the country to discuss the delivery of immigration benefits and services by USCIS.

In keynote remarks, Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson shared about the importance of American values – including immigration and diversity. Secretary Johnson said, “We all must work together towards the shared goal of a stronger, more effective, and more just immigration system.”

Over the past year, the Ombudsman’s Office has worked with USCIS and the immigration stakeholder community towards this goal through our individual case assistance as well as policy recommendations informed by casework and robust engagement with the stakeholder community. This past year, we worked to resolve over 6,100 cases –30% more than we received in the prior year.  People continue to learn about our office and come to us to resolve case problems, which is at the core of our mission.

USCIS has been busy this year as well – during the morning session, Director Rodriguez discussed USCIS efforts supporting family unity by issuing guidance providing parole in place for spouses, children and parents of active members of the U.S. Armed Forces and providing guidance on the Provisional Waiver program.  USCIS reinvigorated the Immigrant Investor Program, which is seeing unprecedented interest, and creating more U.S. jobs than ever. USCIS also rolled out the first renewal process for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), allowing individuals previously enrolled in DACA, to renew their deferral for a period of two years.

There are other opportunities  for USCIS to address policy questions, improve customer service, and advance its Transformation effort to move the agency from a paper-based application and adjudication process to an electronic one.  Many of these challenges were discussed during the day’s breakout sessions.

If you weren’t able to join us in person, you can watch the conference’s morning session to hear from Secretary Johnson, Director Rodriguez, and IRS Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olsen. For more information about the Office of the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman, visit here.

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