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NSC Call: Refugee and Asylee Issues

The Nebraska Service Center held a teleconference on September 15, 2011 that was hosted by Sean Allen.  The following are unofficial minutes from that meeting.

Q.  During the last several months, one CBO has received at least 50-60 RFE letters for I-693s for refugees that the local Health Dept. prepared on the wrong edition of the I-693 (i.e., the 10/14/2009 edition instead of the 7/21/10 edition).  While we have now educated the Health Dept. to ensure they use the correct version of the form, we have no idea whether there may be many more future I-693s still to come.  (And, responding to these RFEs requires obtaining a new I-693 on the 7/21/10 version of the form – involving a considerable amount of time and effort.)  In comparing the 10/14/09 and 7/21/10 versions (pages 1, 4, and 6), it would appear that the ONLY change in the form was the removal of the Human Papilloma virus and Zoster vaccinations from page 4 (to comply with the changes when these two shots were deleted from the list of required shots).   It would considerably reduce examiner time and the time of CBOs if the examiner would not have to insist on the 7/21/10 version if the 10/14/2009 version has been filled in correctly.  Is that a possibility?  (Note:  We have no idea whether this error is limited to one Health Dept. or if NSC is seeing this as a problem nationwide by health departments or private civil surgeons.)

A. The NSC is following USCIS policy on this matter.  No edition earlier than 2/25/10 may be used.  Any other form is unacceptable.  This policy is in place nationwide.

Q. It seems consistent with NSC and other service centers that when a case is transferred to the NBC, for example for local interview, that the G-28 attorney never receives the transfer notice.  It is only sent to the applicant. Why is this the case?  Can attorneys with G-28s on file also be sent a copy of the transfer notice?

A. This is a deficiency in the electronic system. A request will be made for it to be fixed in future changes or updates.

Q. Why would an I-485 refugee case be transferred to the TSC (as one was recently for one CBO’s client)?  Doesn’t the NSC still have “exclusive jurisdiction” for I-485 refugee cases?

A.  NSC does have jurisdiction over refugee I-485 adjustment applications.  Without specific case information, it is not possible to know the reason for transfer of an application or petition.  Concerns about individual cases should be addressed through normal National Customer Service Center (NCSC) channels.

Q.  On the last conference call, we were advised that Liberian Hold cases were being transferred to the NBC for local interviews.  However, one CBO has two cases where the files were sent from the NSC to the NBC back in May, 2011, but still have not been sent to the local USCIS office (which is not extremely backed up on interview dates).  Does the NSC have any control over how fast those cases are routed from the NBC to the local office?  Will Liberians who are interviewed locally be subject to a lengthy list of questions prepared by the NSC similar to the questions asked of I-485 applicants/Liberian Hold cases several years ago?

A.  The NSC does not have any control over cases not in its possession. Contact the NBC and the local office for more information.  The NSC does not have information as to what the processing of these cases will entail.  The NSC cannot control the substance of the interview.

Q.  Please give an update on the status of cases that are on perpetual/apparently indefinite hold due to TRIG issues – numbers, types of cases, names of specific groups that are still considered Tier III groups, etc.

A.  Cases on TRIG hold are being held in accordance with established USCIS policy.  Questions should be referred to USCIS Service Center Operations.

Q. The processing times online for cases still appears to be inaccurate, resulting in different responses from customer service reps when calling NCSC for cases beyond the processing timeframes. Calls to the NCSC sometimes result in the CBO being told that the case is not past the processing timeframes (contrary to the online information) and they will not do a SRMT. Immediate call backs to the NCSC with a different NCSC representative then results in representative who says case is past processing timeframes.

What are the average processing timeframes for I-485 refugee cases?  If the USCIS case status info/processing info is not accurate, how can we know when a case is past processing times so we can contact NCSC and get a five-day SRMT?

A.  Case processing times posted online are accurate.  Concerns about the NCSC should be addressed to the NCSC. 

Q.  If the I-485 refugee has a forwarding order on file with the USPS, will the green card (now sent by priority mail) be forwarded to that address by the USPS, or returned to the Service Center that mailed out the card? If the latter, what is the best procedure for ensuring the card is re-sent to the new address, and how fast will that generally occur?

A.  The USPS does not forward any mail sent by USCIS.  It returns USCIS mail to the agency with the individual’s forwarding address.  If USCIS can confirm the address change with an AR-11 it has on file, the item will be re-mailed to the new address.  If not, it will be held for one year awaiting an AR-11.  The NSC recommends submitting an AR-11 for every member of the family.

Q.  Do you have suggestions on how to follow up on a Cuban adjustment case that has been pending in Nebraska for nearly 1.5 years, and has contacted USCIS in Miami many times about her case and is always told to keep waiting?

A.  NSC does not adjudicate adjustment applications based on the Cuban Adjustment Act.  Questions related to it should be addressed through normal NCSC channels.

Q.  When an I-485 for a refugee is filed with the NSC and while the I-485 is still pending, an I-730 is filed later on with the TSC (because the petitioner lives in TSC coverage area), is the I-730 still being transferred to the NSC for review?  In the past, cases like this were transferred to the NSC, but now with so many files being scanned, we assume that this may not be the same procedure b/c service centers may not have to compete for the A file.

A.  If the I-485 is still pending with the NSC at the time the I-730 is filed, the I-730 will be transferred to the NSC.

Q.  Please provide suggestions on how to handle RFEs for I-730s that ask for marriage certificates/birth certificates when the Department of State says that they can be obtained but it is virtually impossible for the client to obtain.

A.  Documentary evidence of the claimed relationship is required by the regulations.  The burden is on the petitioner to establish the relationship by a preponderance of the evidence.  If your client cannot obtain the requested documentation, state the reason the evidence does not exist or is unobtainable.  Only then will secondary evidence will be acceptable. 

Q.  Do you have any suggestions for our Burmese clients who are in Malaysia or Thailand and since they are not considered to be residents there, their marriage in the church or other venue is not seen as valid-but for all other purposes the client believes that marriage is valid?

A.  For a relationship to be valid for immigration purposes, the marriage must be recognized where it occurred.  If the petitioner relies on foreign law to establish the relationship, it must be submitted as well. 

Q.  This question is for an asylee derivative. After the parent becomes U.S citizen, they have to have their own asylum approved before adjustment of status. Sometimes for some cases the USCIS schedules an interview for individuals; other times the client needs to get a lawyer. What is a rule that we can follow for all the clients in the same way?

A.  Derivative asylees who no longer qualify under the statute must file a nunc pro tunc application with their local office.  Service centers do not handle any processing or scheduling of interviews.

Q.  The category (a)(4) “paroled as a refugee” is often mistaken for the correct category (c)(11) to be used by Cuban/Haitian parolees.  One CBO has had several Cuban parolee clients who either did the I-765 on their own or through a “notary” and have checked the (a)(4) category.  The application is then rejected and then if re-filed correctly, they have still lost several weeks/months on getting an EAD.  Can this category be removed from the I-765 instructions or some clarification added so Cuban/public interest parolees don’t choose this incorrect category?

A.  The decision to add or remove categories is at the headquarters level.  NSC has forwarded the concern to USCIS headquarters.

Q.  We have clients who have applied for adjustment of status and three months later they need file an application for a refugee travel document.  Do they need to pay for the biometrics fee again or could the service use the previous records since biometrics are valid for 15 months?

A.  If an applicant has filed an I-485 and has paid the full filing fee and the I-485 remains pending, the applicant need not pay a fee for the I-131.  If the full fee was not filed with the I-485, the fee must be paid, including the biometric fee.

Q.  We understand that the filing fee for a refugee travel document /re-entry permit can’t be waived, but could the biometrics fee for a RTD be waived due to inability to pay?

A.  An applicant may request a waiver of the biometrics fee by submitting form I-912 with the I-131.

Q. In Los Angeles, the requests for emergency advance parole are referred to the USCIS Los Angeles Field Office 8559 for adjudication and the requests are processed immediately.  Have you considered a similar process for RTDs be available at a local level for bona fide emergencies? Currently, requests for an expedited RTD are sent to Phoenix, AR before being sent to NSC for adjudication and can take approximately 3 weeks.

A.  Because of booklet production requirements, RTDs cannot be processed at local offices.  The NSC tries to process expedite requests as quickly as possible.

Q.  One CBO often does not receive the required written response to a NCSC inquiry (that has been bumped up to an officer inquiry), yet the G-28 on file has the correct address.  What entity is actually responsible for sending out the written responses?

A.  The NSC customer service office is responsible for generating the responses.