WASHINGTON – Today, the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman (CIS Ombudsman) submitted to Congress its Annual Report, which provides recommendations for addressing issues encountered by individuals and employers applying for immigration benefits with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
This year’s report studies the challenges and uncertainties encountered by USCIS and individuals seeking to acquire and maintain their legal immigration status during the COVID-19 pandemic. The report examines those impacts and underscores the importance of continuing to build upon the many changes already implemented.
“I applaud the Administration’s commitment to identifying barriers that impede access to immigration services and benefits,” said Phyllis A. Coven, CIS Ombudsman. “The recent executive orders issued by President Biden allow for enhanced collaboration with USCIS and new opportunities to maximize our office’s contributions to create a more responsive and transparent immigration system, reinforcing a focus closely aligned with the CIS Ombudsman’s statutory mission.”
Highlights of the 2021 Annual Report include:
- A review of USCIS operations during the COVID-19 pandemic, including the impact COVID-19 had on backlog levels and the solutions USCIS implemented to address them.
- Recommendations to address persistent problems associated with the issuance of Notices to Appear and related interagency coordination challenges.
- A detailed analysis of the major processing issues related to Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence.
- An overview of the challenges encountered by naturalization applicants seeking medical disability waivers and recommendations to improve the processing of Form N-648, Medical Certification for Disability Exceptions.
- Recommendations to bridge the gap between USCIS and ICE to better manage international student programs.
- An update on USCIS’ digital strategy and the continuing complications of online filing and adjudication.
Established by Congress as part of the Homeland Security Act of 2002, the CIS Ombudsman is dedicated to improving the quality of citizenship and immigration services delivered to the public by providing individual case assistance, identifying systemic issues, engaging with immigration stakeholders across the country, and making recommendations to improve the administration of immigration benefits by USCIS.
For more information and to read previous annual reports, visit the CIS Ombudsman’s website.