On October 9, 2014 the Nebraska Service Center held a teleconference on refugee/asylee issues. The following is a summary of the discussion.
Q. Can a refugee who has been to immigration court for a felony charge, but has not been removed from the U.S. because his homeland refuses to admit him, apply for authorization to work? The latest official word on his documents is “voluntary departure.”
A. To determine eligibility for work authorization, USCIS must have evidence of current immigration status. Eligibility will depend on the outcome of any proceeding an individual is in. Each individual should receive a copy of the court order at the proceeding. It they did not or have lost it you can file a FOIA request with EOIR.
Q. The I-765 instructions have been revised as of 8/6/14. Not quite sure if this part has changed, but page 1 indicates that refugees should file their I-765 with either a copy of their I-590, approval letter, or I-730 approval notice. Our project has never had a refugee client who was given a copy of their I-590 form from overseas (we have gotten them through FOIAs, however), and only infrequently have we seen any approval notices from overseas refugee processing (sometimes clients will have a copy of their “transportation letters” which indicate they have been approved for entry as refugees). Then, it is not until page 6 in the “Required Documentation” section that a copy of the I-94 is mentioned in general for all applications. These instructions would seem to be confusing to refugees. We have regularly tried to encourage USCIS to either delete the page 1 reference to “paroled as a refugee” since we don’t believe that any persons now enter the U.S. in this status – this status was used for a time prior to the official passage of the Refugee Act of 1970. The problem is that many Cuban parolees who try and do the I-765 on their own typically opt for this provision and then have their applications denied because they don’t have that status. Can there be some clarification added to this section on page 1?
A. This was more of a comment than a question but, in general, information that is forwarded to Headquarters is for verification purposes. An I-94 will do for verification but so will an I-730. For more questions email: email@example.com.
Q. Are there any instances in which a Form I-131 Application for Refugee Travel Document can be waived?
A. Regulations do not allow for a waiver of the Travel Document.
Q. Can I-131’s be adjudicated for someone with withholding of removal, and if traveling out of the U.S. (to a different country than the country of origin) will the applicant be able to re-enter the United States in the same status?
A. Anyone currently in any removal proceeding must file an I-131 to get authorization for parole.
Q. Follow up questions: What happens if individuals are still waiting for a Travel Document and it has been well outside the regular processing period? Is there a way to expedite it? Will a person’s criminal history stop them from getting approved?
A. If a person has proper status they are eligible for a travel document. Typically, criminal records do not bar them. The only thing that can bar them is if they are in any proceeding. Because some of them do take a long time, you can submit a request to expedite through the customer service center.
Q. Who adjudicates Form I-290B, Notice of Appeal or Motion, submitted in relation to Form I-730, Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition? Is it the Nebraska Service Center or the Administrative Appeals Office?
A. A decision on Form I-730 cannot be appealed, but you can file a motion to reopen. The NSC will adjudicate I-290B for an I-730 that was adjudicated at the NSC.
Adjustment of Status
Q. I understand that USCIS has reverted to issuing RFEs in asylum adjustments that require nunc pro tunc asylum filings, avoiding the need for clients to re-file their I-485 adjustment applications. For cases that were issued denials, went through the nunc pro tunc process, and are re-filing their I-485 applications, will applicants be forced to re-pay the fee or will an exception be made in these instances?
A. In November 2012 the policy was changed to facilitate the nunc pro tunc re-filing. The adjustment fee for refilling is due with the application even if an individual is asking for a waiver. Any other problems individual have should be address to headquarters. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Q. We continue to receive two approval notices for almost all adjustment filings (this may not be specific to refugees/asylees). Is it possible to prevent this from continuing?
A. Approval notices are automatically produced. The NSC asks organizations to give examples of instances of duplication so that they can look into it. Since this has been happening for years and submitting the actual or copies of approval notices would be too much, just provide the receipt number so that the NSC can pull up the notices and see what was happening.
Q. What, if any, position does the NSC have on the issue of refugee applicants who are Hispanic and prefer to drop their second last name at the green card stage (meaning that the I-485 is prepared with just one last name; the double last name is listed as an other name on the G-325)? One of the local CIS offices (which ends up getting a lot of Cuban Adjustment Act cases referred by the NBC) has indicated that there is supposedly a CIS policy that if a Cuban, for example, is born with two last names, that this is their legal name. As a result, if they want to drop their second last name on their green card, they would need to have an official court document showing a name change. This issue, in general, however, does not seem to be consistent among service centers and local offices. Is there a national policy on this issue – and if not, what position does the NSC take?
A. Based on the regulations, any applications must use an individual’s full legal last name. If individuals wish to change their name, including dropping a last name, they must show official documentation reflecting a name change.
Q. We have some asylee-based adjustment of status (I-485) cases that were filed at NSC. We received notices that those cases were being transferred to NBC. Can you clarify what role or function NBC has in the processing of these adjustment applications?
A. Some I-485 applications and interviews are sent to NBC. Those that are will be adjudicated by NBC.
Q. In August 2014, USCIS posted six new policy memos regarding discretionary exemptions for certain terrorism related inadmissibility grounds for material support to certain groups – mainly from Eritrea and Ethiopia. Is NSC at liberty to indicate what other organizations are in the process of being considered for similar exemptions?
A. Any questions on current use or future extensions of TRIG policy need to be sent to email@example.com.
Q, Is it possible for the Service to send RFEs to both the Representative and the Applicant/Petitioner? It would be helpful if this could be done.
A. NSC will elevate this issue to headquarters for a policy decision and will get back to people.
Q. Our organization has recently received a number of notices relating to NSC cases that we are not handling and have never submitted G-28s for. Is anyone else having those problems? If we do continue to get notices for cases that are not our cases, should we mail them back to the PO Box 82521 address?
A. NSC was not aware of the issue and would like people to provide specific case numbers and send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q. When an AR-11 change of address form is filed online for an individual with a pending I-589, the system rejects the receipt number. Is the new address transmitted to the appropriate asylum office?
A. If an address change is received, the system will update, but only if an address change is allowed. If not, the request will be sent to the office that has that case number. There the address will be changed if it is possible to do so.
Q. In the scenario when an asylum applicant is a minor, and his/her EOIR case has been administratively closed so that he/she could pursue his/her asylum claim with CIS, and then he/she changed address - will the AR-11 filed online be sufficient information of his/her change in address for both the EOIR and the CIS?
A. USCIS is not automatically updated with AR-11. It will require a manual update. Address change requests to USCIS should be done by calling the National Customer Service Center (NCSC) at 800-375-5283.
Q. Our organization has had a number of cases where we have received NCSC confirmations of address changes prior to the production of green cards, but then the green card is sent to the old address. Fortunately, the tracking information with link to the USPS site tells us what zip code it is/has gone to, but clients have had to go to their old address to track down and catch their green card. What can be done to ensure that new addresses are in the system short of calling NCSC after each online address change?
A. Green cards are sent to individuals from a distribution center with the address that they currently have. In the event that the card is sent back to the distributor it will be forwarded to a new address if it has been updated. Cards will be held for one year or until a new address is provided.
Q. Lockbox scanning issues: While the lockbox used for refugee I-485s seems to be operating better than some of the other lockboxes, some of those other lockbox systems seem to have a problem with scanning. We assume that that lockbox staff (who are employees of contractors, correct?) are doing the scanning before the file is sent either physically and/or electronically to the service center that will work on the case. The problems seem to be that some scanners are not scanning all pages, resulting in a return of the application packet for allegedly “missing” pages. In addition, some lockboxes seem to be unable to scan front and back sides, so if a G-28 is on the front and back side, one side does not get scanned. What is the system-wide procedure for scanning applications and does it differ by lockbox?
A. The Records Department confirmed with JP Morgan that the scanners scan double sided pages and they are not expected to miss pages. Any examples of missed pages should be sent to email@example.com.