By Allison Posner
On January 16, 2014, USCIS’s Nebraska Service Center (NSC) held a stakeholder engagement on issues related to processing of refugee and asylee petitions. Select questions and answers from the teleconference are below. Please note that this teleconference was part of a series of informal monthly stakeholder calls held by the NSC. If you wish to participate in the monthly calls, email CEO.NSC2@USCIS.DHS.GOV with your contact information, and you will be added to the center’s mailing list.
Q. Are there any options for USCIS to expedite the processing of I-730 Refugee/Asylee family reunification petitions? For example, for a beneficiary whose health or safety may be in danger?
A. All expedite requests are reviewed on a case by case and reviewed by the center director. The burden is on the petitioner to demonstrate: severe financial loss to the company or individual, USCIS error or compelling interest of USCIS, a humanitarian situation, or a Department of Defense or national interest situation. In the latter case, the request must be from a U.S. government entity and state that the delay will be detrimental to our government.
For I-730s, the petitioner must additionally show real proof of an emergency, such as evidence from the Red Cross of UNHCR. Call USCIS’s National Customer Service Center (NCSC) for a service request to be forwarded to the service center.
Q. Would it be possible for USCIS to work with Department of State to automatically have the refugee resettlement agency filing an I-730 to be the resettlement agency assigned to the case? Petitioners come to us because they trust us and want us to serve their family member(s), we work hard on their I-730, and then often the case is assigned to a different agency for resettlement.
A. This is a question that must be posed to the Department of State.
Q. Once an I-730 has been approved and the derivative has successfully obtained a visa from the Consulate where they reside in order to enter the U.S., how long does the individual have to enter the United States before the visa becomes invalid?
A. This question should be directed to the international affairs office at USCIS Headquarters.
Q. What is USCIS policy regarding refugees from countries where polygamy is common practice? (e.g. If the first marriage is considered valid, for immigration purposes, would someone applying for refugee status need to divorce other subsequent spouses in order to be eligible for resettlement to the United States? Or would this person simply be asked to sign a statement declaring that they do not intend to practice polygamy in the United States?) What is USCIS policy regarding eligibility for I-730 Refugee/Asylee family reunification petitions for biological children from polygamous marriages?
A. The United States considers only the first marriage valid. Only children of the first valid marriage are considered legitimate. In order to petition for children born from subsequent wives, evidence of a bona fide relationship with each child must be submitted. Additional questions on this topic should be submitted to USCIS’s Refugee, Asylum, and International Operations directorate.
Q. What are the family reunification options for Cubans (i.e. are there any additional family reunification options that are specific to Cubans)?
A. The Cuban Family Reunification Parole Program (CFRP) is available to Cuban nationals who reside in Cuba and are beneficiaries of approved Forms I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, “for which an immigrant visa is not yet immediately available.” The CFRP was designed to allow Cuban nationals in oversubscribed family-sponsored visa categories, to apply immediately for parole to the United States, to expedite the family reunification and deter those waiting long period for their visa numbers to become available to attempt to come to the U.S. through irregular migration.
Q. This question is about aliens born before 1991 in what is now Eritrea. On EADs the USCIS lists the country as Ethiopia. When we asked about this before, the USCIS indicated that the alien could not change the country to Eritrea. Is this the policy for the I-485? This causes problem for those from that area that want to travel.
A. The procedure for issuance of I-551 Employment Authorization Documents is to indicate country of birth as documented in the file. More specifically, the adjudicator will refer to the country of birth as indicated in the asylee or refugee grant.
Q. I have filed several adjustments for asylees from Eritrea. There have been a few instances (three to four in the past three years) in which we have indicated “Eritrea” as the country of birth, but the LPR cards have been issued with “Ethiopia” in that space, even if we have not indicated Ethiopia as a country of birth or citizenship anywhere in the materials. In some such cases, this has occurred even when we have provided a civil birth certificate from Eritrea. Although we can file Form I-90 to have this corrected and there is no USCIS fee for the customer, it would obviously be preferable that the card be issued with correct information. Is this an issue of simple human error or is there some sort of “data trigger” which produces this problem? Please advise.
A. As discussed above, I-485 adjudicators indicate the country of birth as documented in the file and as indicated in the asylee or refugee grant. For individual case inquiries, contact the Nebraska Service Center at Ceo.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q. What is the status of review of TRIG cases – in particular pending AOS and exemptions?
A. Contact USCIS Headquarters’ Office of Service Center Operations at email@example.com for all TRIG related questions.
Please see CLINIC’s recent update for information on changes to the Terrorist-Related Inadmissibility Grounds (TRIG) made by the Departments of State and Homeland Security) on February 5, 2014.