What's Up with Texas?


I recently represented a high profile dissident seeking safety, a new home, and an EB1 visa based on “extraordinary ability”. The applicant is the recipient of over 20 international awards and recognized by TIME magazine as one of the 100 most influential persons in the world.

Included as part of his evidence were endorsements by Speaker John Boehner and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi for the applicant’s courageous efforts in the area of human rights.

From the start, the USCIS Texas Service Center (TSC) seemed to go of its way to demonstrate that it is not on top of its game. Beginning on day one, the TSC rejected the application, stating the wrong fee amount was enclosed. As any counsel will attest, a rejection is not a nice thing to explain to a client. After numerous phone calls, TSC reversed itself several days later, citing its error as a “computer glitch,” and conceding that the proper filing fee had been paid. A new receipt was received with a proper priority date.

As the weeks and months passed, USCIS “lost” the file several times, sent client notices to the wrong address in the wrong city, misfiled his documents as if not received, misdated the filings putting the applicant further behind in the priority cue, issued an alien number already assigned to another applicant and issued erroneous requests for evidence already in its possession. Counsel filed AR-11 change of address notification five times, and still biometric notices were sent to the wrong address. After biometrics were taken, two months later, TSC sent notices a second time for biometrics to be done again, in another city. When inquiries were made to TSC to address the errors, they went unacknowledged.

Inquiries to USCIS revealed that agency officials had no idea who the application was despite the fact that he had been on the front pages of newspapers throughout the US. One officer proudly asserted, “I never follow the news.”

It was like trying to interact with USCIS in an alternate universe. USCIS provided many anxious moments for my client. In one bizarre twist, TSC issued a request for the applicant to obtain a certificate from his home government that it had not routinely issued a birth certificates to persons born in their own home. Counsel carefully explained, again, that the applicant was an escaped dissident and that no such certificate would be cooperatively forthcoming. He was not only mistreated by the oppressive government of his former country, but had to fight the US government bureaucracy as well.

It was turning out to be an uningratiating way to welcome a prospective new resident to the US.

Finally, six months into the application process, an observant and apologetic TSC section chief, reviewing the breathless twists in the case history, called counsel to see if he could help put the application back on track. A week later, the green card was issued to a grateful applicant.

It would be nice if that was the end of the story. Last week, apparently unaware that it had already issued his resident card four months earlier, the TSC sent our new Legal Permanent Resident a notice that his application for employment authorization was denied. Of course, it was sent to the wrong address, and forwarded to counsel.

Is it fair to ask, what’s up with Texas? Or is this just an example of a systematic failure plaguing USCIS? Comprehensive immigration reform indeed.

Reprinted with permission.

About The Author

George Bruno is the former US Ambassador Belize. He practices immigration law from offices in Manchester, NH, with a specialty in consular processing and diplomatic intervention.

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of