VISA GATE; POTOMAC SERVICE CENTER

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Visa Gate – In our recent article series, “The New Visa Charts – A Primer in Interpreting Them, Historical Perspective, Use in Forecasting Demand, How the New System Will Work, and Their Additional Benefits to All,” this author expressed the hope that the Department of State would throw out its net as far as possible on its dates of filing charts for I-485 applications; and that better coordination would exist between the Department and U.S.C.I.S. to prevent the recurrence of agency disagreements over chart dates which could cause revisions in the visa bulletin for the same month after issuance. With reference to the October 2015 chart, U.S.C.I.S. had forced revisions upon the Department of State (DOS) shortly after the charts’ issuance in an affair now best known as Visa Gate 2015. Such move prevented thousands from applying for adjustment of status. The November visa charts for filing reflected the same revised dates with no forward movement. U.S.C.I.S. affirmed its authority for deciding whether it would go along with the Department’s filing dates saying that unless otherwise stated on its website at www.uscis.gov/visabulletininfo, the final action date chart would be used to determine whether people could file their adjustment of status applications and that the chart would be posted within one week of DOS’s publication of the visa bulletin. The website said that the agency would go along with the Department’s dates for October and November. We observe that this is a cumbersome process in which unwary applicants may prematurely file I-485 applications relying on the Department’s filing date charts which U.S.C.I.S. belatedly disagrees to accept during a particular month. I-485 applicants are now given an array of 4 charts by DOS – 2 each for employment-based and family-based cases and must further look for one more piece of information by U.S.C.I.S. on another website to make the correct filing decision. We encourage the two agencies to agree on common filing dates prior to the visa charts’ issuance to end the confusing spectacle of one agency issuing official looking documentation only to have the other snipe at or entirely disregard it.

Potomac service center – We were slightly surprised last week to see that one of our cases was transferred to the Potomac Service Center. This is a new service center which was still in the staffing stage in August and now appears to be functional for taking cases. This is the 5th U.S.C.I.S. service center and its mission has yet to be defined although it apparently will take on cases from other service centers to balance U.S.C.I.S.’s workload across the nation. The service center in the Crystal City neighborhood in Arlington, Virginia, is controversial as it was originally designated as the processing facility for applications under the Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) program which would give deferred action from deportation/removal and employment authorization for qualified applicants for 3 years. The program is presently tied up in litigation in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals and conservatives charge that the opening of the center violates the intent of the injunction issued by Texas federal judge Andrew Hanen whose ruling is being appealed by the Obama administration to the Fifth Circuit.

Reprinted with permission.


About The Author

Alan Lee, Esq. the author is an exclusive practitioner of immigration law based in New York City with an AV preeminent rating in the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory for 20+ years, registered in the Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers, on the New York Super Lawyers list (2011-12, 2013-14, 2014-2015), and recognized as a New York Area Top Rated Lawyer. He has written extensively on immigration over the past years for Interpreter Releases, Immigration Daily, and the ethnic newspapers, World Journal, Sing Tao, Epoch Times, Pakistan Calling, Muhasba and OCS; testified as an expert on immigration in civil court proceedings; and is a regular contributor to Martindale-Hubbell's Ask-a-Lawyer program. His article, "The Bush Temporary Worker Proposal and Comparative Pending Legislation: an Analysis" was Interpreter Releases' cover display article at the American Immigration Lawyers Association annual conference in 2004; his 2004 case in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, Firstland International v. INS, successfully challenged Legacy INS' policy of over 40 years of revoking approved immigrant visa petitions under a nebulous standard of proof, although its central holding that the government had to notify approved immigrant petition holders of the revocation prior to the their departure to the U. S. for the petition to be able to be revoked was short-lived as it was specifically targeted in the Intelligence Reform Act of 2004 (which in response changed the language of the revocation statute itself). Yet Firstland lives on as precedent that the government must comply with nondiscretionary duties established in law, and such failure is reviewable in federal courts. His 2015 case, Matter of Leacheng International, Inc., with the Administrative Appeals Office of USCIS (AAO) set nation-wide standards on the definition of "doing business" for multinational executives and managers to gain immigration benefits.


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