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  • Article: How Long Does It Take for AAO and USCIS to Review Something? By Joseph P. Whalen

    How Long Does It Take for AAO and USCIS to Review Something?

    by Joseph Whalen

    The answer to the above seems to be as long or as little time as it takes. Sometimes we get a quick update. That would usually be when USCIS and AAO already had a position and either did not care if there was a different opinion out there or there was no real controversy and they were just going through the motions of asking for comments.

    Yet other times it seems that USCIS and AAO take as much time as it takes for folks to forget that they were waiting for an update. Here is a case dead on the mark:

    Title Document Type Closing Date Status
    Appeal of a Denied Form I-140, Immigrant Petition For Alien Worker Amicus Curiae Brief October 18, 2011
  • Review Period: August 18- October 18, 2011

  • Number of Comments:7
  • Status: UScis is currently reviewing the amicus briefs submitted. USCIS obtained permission to publish five of the submitted briefs.

  • The above entry for "feedback updates" on the "outreach" tab from the USCIS website is found here. It has been nearly two years and while there has been a noticeable difference in the AAO's application of the Kazarian analysis since just a few months after receiving the briefs as evidenced by the non-precedent decisions that have been posted relating to this analysis, they have not gone on record in any policy statement or memo, nor has the issue been addressed in any national stakeholder engagement.[1] This is unacceptable, in my view. This is a critical topic, so critical that AAO actually solicited Amicus Briefs. The least they can do is provide some closure.

    That's my two-cents, for now.

    1 It is noted that individual USCIS offices (Districts, Field Offices, and Service Centers) all have "local" engagements, so it is unclear if this topic has been addressed at engagements in any of those venues.

    About The Author

    Joseph P. Whalen is not an attorney. He is a former government employee who is familiar with the INA. His education is in Anthroplogy with a concentration in Archaeology and has both a BA (from SUNY Buffalo) and an MA (from San Francisco State University) in Anthroplogogy. He previously worked as an Archaeologist for the U.S. Forest Service before becoming an Adjudicator with INS which became USCIS.

    The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.
    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Sole-Man's Avatar
      Sole-Man -
      Recently, I had a case where the VSC made a clear error - the client was eligible for the benefit on the facts, but the VSC officer did not review the submitted evidence and instead relied on the mistaken assertion of the previous attorney in the cover letter that the client was ineligible. We submitted an MTR/Appeal to the VSC, for them to correct the error. The MTR/Appeal sat at the VSC for 6 months with no action before I contacted the USCIS Ombudsman. Within a week or so, VSC forwarded the Appeal to the AAO, apparently without reviewing the MTR at all. The AAO took another six months, then granted the appeal with language addressed (it seemed) to the VSC indicating the clearly erroneous nature of the original decision. My impression is the AAO acts slowly, but responsibly, but the service centers have no incentive to do anything and will drop the case in a pile to be forgotten.
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