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Umesh, Mohan, Linda or anyone else --- PLEASE HELP

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  • #16
    I re-announce Mohan as the master of this board.


    • #17


      • #18
        To guest:
        Here is some information you need about your H1B:

        "To file a green card application under the RIR category, the company must supply 6 months of recruitment evidence with the application. This evidence could be newspaper ads, internet job postings, career fairs, college recruiting information, etc.

        This is to prove to the Department of Labor (DOL) that the company has taken all the possible actions to find a qualified US worker to fill up the permanent job. RIR will be approved only if the company is NOT able to find US employee.

        Due to economy downturn, many companies had laid off many employees, including H1B holders. Still they retain many highly skilled H1B workers. Because of this layoffs and job market, companies may NOT be able to file RIR application with DOL. Instead they may file a regular labor application which may take 1-3 years. This situation may change only after the economy improves with less unemployment rates and the company starts recruiting more employees."

        You can have more than one sponsors who are ready to offer you job but each of them have to follow the process. I am giving below one link, you can check that also, which may be helpful to you:

        Good luck.


        • #19
          You did some research on this yesterday Mohan?


          • #20
            Oops, sorry, Umesh I wanted to say...


            • #21
              To Researched, I guess... :

              I did not check this board for the last 4 - 5 days. But still I think, it is a good idea to do some research than giving incomplete answer.
              Good luck.


              • #22
                Of the allegations made concerning the CUSA program, none received as much attention either within or outside the Department of Justice as those concerning INS 'mishandling of naturalization applicants' criminal history record checks did. The possibility that INS had inappropriately naturalized persons who were ineligible to become citizens because of their criminal histories was a cause of considerable alarm. As a result, INS and the Department first concentrated on these allegations. To answer questions from Congress about whether persons with disqualifying criminal records were improperly granted citizenship, INS began a review of all CUSA naturalization cases. In late November 1996, Justice Management Division hired KPMG Peat Marwick LLP, an independent consulting firm, to "oversee, validate, and independently report on" INS' review. The first review focused on how many persons naturalized despite disqualifying criminal history checks or despite not having had records checked at all.

                By this time, the deficiencies in INS' criminal history checking procedures had been exposed. One weakness in INS policy was of immediate concern to the Attorney General: that INS adjudicators were trained to assume that an applicant for naturalization had no criminal record if no criminal history report had arrived within a designated amount of time since the applicant's fingerprint card had been sent to the FBI. This long-standing policy, known as the "presumptive policy," allowed adjudicators to assume that an applicant had no criminal record merely on the basis of having failed to receive"”by the time of the naturalization interview"”any criminal history report. This procedure was clearly more vulnerable to errors than a policy requiring an actual response on each applicant's criminal history. The Attorney General directed INS to abandon the presumptive policy in November 1996 in favor of a policy that required definitive record checks for each applicant.

                When Congress learned in March 1997 the preliminary results of the KPMG-supervised review of CUSA naturalization cases, the criticism of INS' criminal history checking procedures grew even more intense. The preliminary results of the review showed that 179,524 of the 1,049,872 approved CUSA naturalization cases (17 percent of the naturalized population) did not have a definitive criminal history check conducted by the FBI,259 and that 10,800 persons (1 percent) had been arrested for at least one felony offense.

                Members of Congress reacted with concern not just about the extent of the processing errors indicated by the audit results, but also about what the audit data revealed concerning the reliability of information previously provided to Congress by INS officials in the fall of 1996. Commissioner Meissner had written to Senator Alan Simpson in October 1996 that INS had received preliminary indications that "only a few dozen individuals out of the more than 1.3 million naturalization applicants processed" had been "wrongly naturalized." Executive Associate Commissioner Alexander Aleinikoff had offered the same assessment in his October 1996 statement to the Subcommittee on Immigration of the Senate Judiciary Committee and in an interview broadcast on the radio. In light of the extensive problems indicated by the KPMG-supervised audit, Members of Congress questioned whether INS officials had originally misled Congress by understating the extent of the fingerprint processing problems.

                In response to the allegations concerning the errors in criminal history checking procedures, Commissioner Meissner and other INS officials repeatedly pointed to the ill-conceived presumptive policy as the primary source of the problems. In response to the concern that INS officials had misled Congress in their original reports on criminal history checking procedures during CUSA, Commissioner Meissner insisted that the information provided to Congress in September and October 1996 had been provided in "good faith" based on information obtained by querying INS field offices as opposed to a systematic audit of naturalization cases. By March 1997, officials at INS Headquarters conceded that the case review revealed a serious systemic flaw in their criminal history checking procedures, but at the same time continued to maintain that they had made every effort to safeguard the system"”indeed, to improve it"”and to respond accurately to congressional inquiries.

                We examined INS' fingerprint checking process in detail, considering both its performance during CUSA as well as earlier warnings about and responses to process weaknesses. We also examined INS' response to congressional inquiries about criminal history checking procedures. We found that contrary to the assertions made by INS officials at congressional hearings in late 1996 and early 1997, INS had consistently failed to timely or adequately respond to known systemic weaknesses, including the presumptive policy. We also found that INS Headquarters' answers to congressional inquiries concerning criminal history checking procedures during CUSA were replete with mistakes that could have been avoided had INS officials paid sufficient attention to the information then available from the Field. In sum, we found that INS' responses to the congressional inquiries were flawed by the same kind of inattention to detail and to the seriousness of the flaws in the criminal history checking procedures that had marred processing integrity throughout the CUSA program. Although there is no evidence that INS witnesses deliberately gave inaccurate or incomplete information to Congress, there is similarly no evidence that those witnesses made efforts to fully understand the flaws in INS' procedures before offering a "defense" of the work they had done during CUSA. In this chapter, we discuss the evidence that supports these conclusions.

                In the discussion that follows, we first provide background information on the criminal history checking procedures employed by INS before and during the CUSA program. We then discuss the origin and definition of the presumptive policy and the admissions INS has made since CUSA about the weaknesses of that policy. Our report on criminal history checking procedures then picks up where INS left off the discussion in March 1997, with the problems, other than the presumptive policy, that contributed to the breakdown of INS' criminal history checking procedures during fiscal year 1996.

                After describing aspects of the process that were already discernibly flawed before INS launched CUSA, we turn our attention to the recommendations made to INS by both the OIG and the General Accounting Office (GAO) to remedy the weaknesses in its procedures. We detail INS' inadequate response to those recommendations in the years preceding CUSA. The record shows that INS failed to take action because it downplayed the importance of criminal history checks in naturalization processing integrity.

                Once this history is detailed, we examine what happened during fiscal year 1996. We describe how the ambitious data-entry project in Laguna Niguel, California (described above in the overview and A-files chapters of this report), was undertaken with a single-minded focus on naturalization production and without regard for the ramifications such high-volume processing would have on INS' ability to check applicants' criminal history. We also discuss how strategies ostensibly designed to improve fingerprint processing, including the transition to Direct Mail and the establishment of the Fingerprint Clearance Coordination Center, were hastily planned and poorly implemented because of the same overriding focus on increasing production. In the end, these strategies not only failed to improve INS' procedures, but also worked to exacerbate the problems. Our report then describes INS' failure to timely adjust its procedures when it learned about the FBI's increased processing times later in the CUSA season.

                We next describe the weaknesses in INS' biographical check, or "bio-check," a procedure used by INS to determine whether an applicant is being investigated by any other federal agency. This status would not ordinarily be revealed during the course of a routine fingerprint check unless the federal investigation had resulted in an arrest. We conclude that INS' bio-check procedures were flawed and contributed to the lack of processing integrity during CUSA.

                Finally, we examine the events of August, September, and October 1996, a time period during which many of the flaws in INS' fingerprint processing procedures came to public light. It was also during these three months that INS officials made representations to Congress about the processing of applicant criminal histories that were later called into question. We describe what information INS Headquarters officials learned about the mishandling of rap sheets260 in the Field and when they learned it. By juxtaposing this with what Headquarters officials were simultaneously reporting to Congress concerning fingerprint processing, we show that there was indeed cause for congressional concern about the reliability of reports from INS. Instead of providing Congress with an accurate picture based on available information, INS dramatically understated the nature and extent of the problems that existed in its criminal history checking procedures.

                Background on criminal history checks and the presumptive policy

                Purpose and description of criminal history checks

                All naturalization applicants must possess "good moral character" to be eligible for citizenship. As discussed above in our chapter on interviews and adjudications, specific acts or conduct by an applicant will preclude a finding of good moral character, almost all of which pertain to criminal activity. The regulations list specific crimes such as a murder conviction at any time, as well as categories of criminal behavior, such as a violation of any U.S. or foreign drug law during the 5-year period immediately prior to the filing of the application for naturalization (except when the violation was a single offense for possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana).

                Historically, as we described in our chapter on interviews and adjudications, INS conducted background investigations of applicants to obtain information necessary to assist the adjudicator in evaluating the applicant's character and to comply with its statutory obligation to investigate the applicant. INS investigators typically interviewed the applicant's neighbors and co-workers, required applicants to produce character witnesses, and queried FBI and other databases for information about an applicant's criminal history. Over the years, however, the huge demand for naturalization necessitated changes in INS' procedures, and the frequency of such wide-ranging background investigations became less commonplace.261 By 1991, INS generally did not conduct its own background investigations of applicants and instead relied almost exclusively on criminal history checks performed by the FBI and on bio-checks to obtain information bearing on the "good moral character" of the applicant.

                The fingerprint check compared the applicant's fingerprints to those on file with the FBI to determine whether the applicant had any criminal arrests.262 The "bio-check" reviewed information maintained by the FBI and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) concerning persons associated with a federal investigation, such as an organized crime or terrorism investigation, rather than information on arrests or convictions. The applicant's name and other biographical data were used by the FBI and CIA to conduct this research, and the information was submitted by INS, either electronically or manually, on Form G-325A.

                In this chapter, we focus primarily on the fingerprint check because that was the criminal history checking procedure at the heart of the congressional allegations about processing errors during CUSA. No allegations were made concerning INS' bio-check procedures. However, during the course of our investigation we learned that INS' bio-check procedures were also compromised during CUSA. Accordingly, although we do not address the bio-check process in detail, later in this chapter we offer a description of how INS failed to maintain this important facet of naturalization processing integrity during CUSA.

                Processing by the FBI


                The Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Division of the FBI conducts fingerprint checks for naturalization applications. The CJIS Division maintains several databases of fingerprint data acquired from federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies across the United States. Although submissions are voluntary, the CJIS Division has the world's largest repository of criminal history record information with more than 132 million fingerprint cards in 1997, representing over 35 million people who had been arrested for crimes.263

                Beginning in 1990, Congress authorized the FBI to charge a fee for fingerprint checks it provided to other federal agencies for non-criminal justice and non-law enforcement purposes. Effective January 1, 1990, the FBI began charging INS and all federal government agencies $14 for each fingerprint card submitted for civil applications, such as naturalization and other immigration benefit applications.264 INS is one of the FBI's largest customers for fingerprint checks for non-law enforcement purposes, paying well over $10 million each year from 1990-1995 for fingerprint checks on benefit applications. In FY 1995, when the user fee increased to $18 for each fingerprint check, INS paid the FBI approximately $26 million, $16 million of which was specifically for fingerprint checks on naturalization applicants. For FY 1996, INS paid the FBI $32.5 million to conduct fingerprint checks for benefit applications, with approximately $19.5 million spent for naturalization applications.265

                The fingerprint process begins when applicants submit their fingerprints to INS on fingerprint cards (Form FD-258) along with their naturalization application.266 The FD-258 is stamped in advance with an "originating agency identifier" or "ORI" code indicating which INS office is submitting the fingerprint card. The form is then detached from the application by an INS applications clerk and mailed to the CJIS Division of the FBI.267 The process of separating the fingerprint card from the naturalization application was known as "stripping" the fingerprint cards.

                Conducting fingerprint checks

                Before a fingerprint card was checked against the CJIS Division's repository of fingerprints, FBI technicians took a number of preliminary review steps to ensure that the fingerprint card had been properly prepared. Fingerprint cards would be rejected if pertinent biographic information such as the applicant's date of birth, sex, or name had been omitted from the upper portion or "masthead" of the fingerprint card. If so, the FBI sent the FD-258 back to the INS office that had submitted the fingerprint card, generally with a notation explaining what category of information was missing.268 This type of rejection is known as a "masthead reject." The FBI did not charge for cards rejected at this stage in the process and kept no record that it had ever received the card. The missing or incorrect information had to be supplied or corrected by an INS clerk who would resubmit the card to the FBI, or the INS district office had to obtain the information from the applicant and then resubmit the fingerprint card.

                If the masthead biographic information was complete, FBI technicians attempted to classify or categorize the fingerprints based on the loops, whorls, arches, and ridgelines of each print. Each fingerprint would receive a "score" concerning its classifiability. Some cards contained fingerprints that were smudged or were otherwise not legible enough to permit classification of all ten fingerprints.

                The fingerprint cards then underwent a "name-check""”an automated search of the FBI's criminal history database using the applicant's name, descriptive data from the masthead of the fingerprint card, and the types of fingerprint classifications, to the extent that the fingerprints were of sufficient quality to determine classifications.269 Because of the possibility of aliases, misspelled names, multiple surnames used by some immigrant groups, and other errors or variations of names, the computer software was designed to search not only for exact spelling of names but also closely-related names and aliases. For example, the last name "Lin" could also be spelled "Len" or "Lyn," and the computer would look for these other names as possible matches.

                A name-check search could yield many potential matches. The computer would rank the potential matches according to the number and type of criteria that matched. FBI technicians then compared the fingerprint card on file for the top two candidates identified by the computer with the fingerprints on the submitted card.270 If a match was identified (and verified by a second examiner), the criminal history report or "rap sheet" relating to the person whose fingerprint card was on file at the FBI was attached to the FD-258 and returned to the originating INS office.

                If there was no match identified by the name-check process, fingerprint cards that had 10 classifiable fingerprints were submitted for an automated search of the FBI's fingerprint files. If the automated search resulted in an "indent" or match, an examiner verified the result and the criminal history report was forwarded to the submitting agency. If the automated search did not yield an "ident," the FBI destroyed the submitted fingerprint card in accordance with INS' presumptive policy that was established in 1982 and no other information was provided to INS.

                The classifiability of the fingerprints on the submitted card affected not only the FBI's ability to use the automated reader, but also the potential success of the name-check process. First, the lack of classifiability would limit the FBI's ability to use the "type of classification" (or type of loops and whorls) criterion for the name-check process in selecting or ranking possible matches. Second, if the name-check process produced possible matches, the quality of the fingerprints on the submitted card determined the ability of an examiner to compare them to the fingerprint cards of the potential matches at the FBI. Although some FBI examiners had sufficient experience and skill to make a positive identification based on only one classifiable print on the submitted card, that was not always possible. If the fingerprints on the submitted card were not suitable for comparison to fingerprint cards on file at the FBI and identified as a result of the name-check, there was no method for confirming that the person whose fingerprints were on the submitted card was the same as the person whose fingerprints were on file at the FBI. In such cases, the unclassifiable card was returned to the submitting office with a notation of "no record based on name-check." The submission of a classifiable fingerprint card was thus the only method of ensuring a complete and reliable FBI criminal history check.271

                The FBI charged INS for each fingerprint card that it analyzed through the "name-check" stage. However, if the fingerprints were deemed "unclassifiable," the FBI provided INS the opportunity to submit a new fingerprint card for the same applicant at no extra charge. In order to avoid being charged again for the same applicant, the FBI required that INS submit the original, unclassifiable card with the new card to be processed.

                Origin and elimination of the presumptive policy

                INS' core operating principle with respect to the fingerprint process before and during CUSA was known as the "presumptive policy." Under this policy, INS assumed that an applicant did not have a criminal history if a rap sheet was not received within a certain number of days after the fingerprint card had been sent to the FBI. The designated waiting period was known as the "presumptive period."272 This policy was established after INS and FBI officials met in December 1981 to discuss ways to improve fingerprint processing between the two organizations. In January 1982, INS Acting Commissioner Alan Nelson wrote to the Director of the FBI and requested, among other things, that the FBI return only rap sheets to INS and that applicants' fingerprint cards that turned up no record of criminal activity be destroyed by the FBI for all naturalization, adjustment of status, and asylum cases. In February 1982, the FBI agreed to destroy rather than return to INS all fingerprint cards submitted by INS for which a search against the FBI's criminal history database resulted in no criminal record.

                As specified in Commissioner Nelson's 1982 letter, this change in procedure was intended as a "system improvement." As explained to the OIG by INS Headquarters officials, INS' processing of fingerprint cards, including the filing of rap sheets and returned fingerprint cards indicating a negative response, had historically been viewed as demanding a great deal of clerical resources because the process was "paper driven." As the number of naturalization adjudications increased, so did the length of time it took INS to process cases, in part because of the time required for filing all of the FBI responses. Adoption of the presumptive policy was an attempt to address this issue. Because the majority of applicants did not have criminal records"”according to the FBI, the figure has historically been approximately 90 percent "”the decision to stop receiving fingerprint cards from the FBI indicating a negative response was intended to significantly decrease the filing burden on INS clerical staff.

                The presumptive policy, intended to improve the process, was inherently flawed. Since the policy was based on the assumption that the fingerprint card would be processed within a specified timeframe"”both at INS and at the FBI"”any delays in this timetable could result in an applicant being naturalized without having his or her criminal history reviewed. As Associate Commissioner Crocetti acknowledged to the OIG, "we knew that there would be a percentage of cases, a risk, that would not get to the files in time" for the interview. He explained that the policy resulted from an effort by INS to balance the risk to the public against the obligation to process naturalization applications in a timely manner. As Commissioner Meissner explained to the OIG, most decisions in government are governed by a paradigm that assumes errors are going to occur "and the question is what is the range of those error rates and what are acceptable error rates." INS adopted this approach to fingerprint processing even though it never made a specific determination as to what an acceptable error rate would be.

                The application of the presumptive policy as a "cost-effective" approach to naturalization eligibility came as a surprise, however, to the Department of Justice leadership. After the initial congressional hearings about the failings of CUSA, Assistant Attorney General for Administration Stephen Colgate told the OIG that he recalled arguing with EAC Aleinikoff about INS' view that the margin of error in naturalizing applicants with criminal records was insignificant in view of INS' high production rate. AAGA Colgate said he found this "business notion" unacceptable because the "product" was citizenship.

                The Attorney General also found it unacceptable. She told the OIG that she had been dismayed to learn in the fall of 1996 that INS relied on an assumption that records had been checked and that no disqualifying information had been found. When she discovered in November 1996 that INS had not implemented steps to ensure that a definitive policy was in place, she ordered an end to the presumptive policy and the immediate implementation of a definitive record check.273

                When viewed from outside INS, the inherent weakness of the presumptive policy seemed obvious. Not only did AAGA Colgate and the Attorney General recognize its vulnerability, so did Members of Congress, who likened it to the belief that "no news is good news." However, other factors contributed to INS' maintenance of this vulnerable policy for more than a decade and a half. According to INS managers, there was a common belief throughout INS that naturalization applicants were not a population of persons particularly likely to have a significant criminal history, so fingerprint checks rarely revealed conduct that would have an impact on the adjudication. INS officials told the OIG that it was also commonly believed that in those instances where an applicant had a criminal history, INS had other tools at its disposal"”in particular, the naturalization interview"”for uncovering that history, thus making the fingerprint check moot in many cases. These notions, as discussed more fully later in this chapter, increased the sense that fingerprint checks for every naturalization case were too costly compared to the rare benefit"”the occasional criminal history for which INS had not been aware"”to INS or to the public. These, too, were flawed notions that reflected misunderstandings by Commissioner Meissner and senior INS staff of the state of naturalization processing when CUSA began, but they subtly helped to extend the longevity of the presumptive policy until it was dismantled in the aftermath of CUSA.

                INS blames the presumptive policy for its fingerprint processing errors during CUSA

                In her prepared statement for a March 5, 1997, Joint Hearing before the Subcommittee on National Security, International Affairs, and Criminal Justice of the House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight and the Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims of the House Judiciary Committee (hereinafter March 1997 Joint Hearing), Commissioner Meissner described the "lessons learned" by INS concerning its fingerprint processing procedures. She pointed out that while INS had been relying on a presumptive policy of 60 days the FBI had been completing "73 percent of fingerprint checks within 30 days, 89 percent within 45 days, 94 percent within 60 days, and 98 percent of fingerprint cards within 90 days." She explained:

                This policy created a significant vulnerability. But it was a vulnerability that was not apparent until INS eliminated backlogs and became timely in its processing because with backlogs, any "idents" not delivered in 60 or 120 days still had plenty of time to reach the file before a case would be adjudicated.
                As INS added personnel and other resources, our processing times dropped, and by August of last year [1996], a few of our offices were completing applications that had been filed less than six months before. As a result, INS was adjudicating some naturalization applications while the FBI was still in the process of completing its background checks.

                Commissioner Meissner noted that "despite the improvements to the process" made by INS during CUSA (a reference to the transition to Direct Mail for naturalization applications and the creation of the Fingerprint Clearance Coordination Center (FCCC)), reliance on the "outdated assumption" that INS would receive "idents" from the FBI within 60 days had been INS' mistake. In her interview with the OIG the Commissioner reiterated that the combination of reliance on a presumptive period and decreasing INS processing times was at the heart of the fingerprint processing errors INS made during fiscal year 1996.

                Many other INS officials, including EAC Aleinikoff and Associate Commissioner Crocetti, offered this same analysis to the OIG. They insisted that because FBI processing times were increasing while INS processing times were decreasing, they failed to timely notice that criminal history reports were being returned late. The implication was that the primary error made by INS was an inadvertent consequence of the improvements INS had made in its naturalization processing.

                Although we do not question the sincerity of these witnesses' assertions, the evidence shows that INS' many mistakes in fingerprint processing during CUSA cannot be attributed solely to the fact that INS followed a policy that, in the name of cost-effectiveness, took the risk that the FBI would fail to process a fingerprint card within the 60 days allowed by the INS processing schedule. After all, as Commissioner Meissner noted, the FBI processed 94 percent of the INS-submitted fingerprint cards within 60 days. If INS had been administering its presumptive policy properly, only six percent of its naturalization cases would have been vulnerable, an error rate that, while unacceptable, would have been a considerable improvement over INS' actual performance.274 The more troublesome role of INS' presumptive policy was that, by permitting the naturalization of an applicant regardless of what might have happened to his or her fingerprint card after its initial submission to INS, it permitted INS to persist in its presumption that all of the intermediate steps involved in a proper fingerprint check"”whether those steps had to be taken by the FBI or by INS itself"”were in fact being taken. The presumptive policy enabled INS to ignore all of the ways in which the agency itself"”not the FBI"”was failing to properly process applicants' fingerprint cards.

                Thus, emphasizing the vulnerability of the presumptive policy to explain INS' processing failures is inaccurate. Our investigation found that INS' failure to timely or adequately check applicants' criminal histories during CUSA was attributable to its failure to manage fingerprint procedures appropriately even within the boundaries of the presumptive policy. INS failed to ensure that applicants submitted suitable fingerprint cards or that once the FBI rejected an unsuitable card a new one was submitted in its place. Even in times of long backlogs, INS failed to ensure that the Field did not schedule interviews of an applicant until 60 days after having sent the card to the FBI for processing. INS failed to ensure that criminal history reports were timely placed in applicants' A-files or otherwise made available to adjudicators in time for the applicant's naturalization interview. Had all of these fundamental steps been properly and timely followed, INS could have succeeded at checking the overwhelming majority of applicants' criminal history records even under its presumptive policy.

                We begin our report where INS testimony in 1997 left off. Having conceded the vulnerability of a presumptive policy, we next address those issues which, in addition to the weaknesses inherent in a presumptive policy, contributed to the sub-standard quality of criminal background checks of naturalization applicants even before CUSA. INS' failure to address these weaknesses before launching the largest naturalization program in its history, combined with the missteps that occurred during the implementation of CUSA, resulted in fingerprint processing procedures that were extremely deficient and inadequate to prevent those with disqualifying criminal records from naturalizing.

                INS failures to properly administer fingerprint policy and procedures that pre-dated CUSA

                Prior to CUSA, INS did not have a comprehensive fingerprint policy for the naturalization program setting forth the basis for the presumptive policy, the length of the presumptive period, or the procedures to be followed in order to ensure timely processing of fingerprint cards and responses from the FBI. The vacuum created by the failure of INS Headquarters to provide guidance to the Field resulted in disparate practices. Some districts did not send fingerprint cards to the FBI at least 60 days before the naturalization interview. Many districts failed to ensure that "rejected" and "unclassifiable" cards were resubmitted, thereby resulting in the naturalization of applicants who never had their criminal histories checked by the FBI. Districts also failed to ensure that rap sheets received from the FBI were placed in the appropriate file before applicants were interviewed. The record shows that INS Headquarters had information about these disparate and problematic practices and yet did not take steps to remedy them by identifying proper procedures and disseminating instructions before launching CUSA.

                Failure to properly administer the presumptive period

                Commissioner Meissner, in testifying before Congress about the presumptive policy during CUSA, referred to the presumptive period as being set by policy at 60 days. The record shows, however, that INS had no definitive 60-day policy or practice and that, as a result, some districts waited only 40 or 45 days for a fingerprint card to be checked by the FBI. In those offices, the risk that the adjudication would be completed before the applicant's criminal history had been checked was even greater than under the presumptive policy described by Commissioner Meissner.

                INS failed to clearly articulate the presumptive policy

                During our review, we found that no definitive policy statement existed concerning the presumptive policy and the processing of naturalization applications. We found only two documents that addressed the issue of a presumptive period for certain background checks for applicants for various INS benefits. However, the two articulations of the presumptive period specified different time periods, and one of the documents was unclear as to whether it referred to the presumptive period for bio-checks (Form G-325A), for fingerprint checks, or for both. Although in an understated way, Commissioner Meissner acknowledged this lack of policy when she advised the Attorney General in a November 1996 memorandum summarizing the presumptive policy that, "INS' implementation of [the presumptive policy] is somewhat unclear."

                INS' Operations Instructions (OIs) provided procedural guidance in connection with certain provisions of Title 8 of the Code of Federal Regulations. As its name suggests, these instructions were intended to be a resource for INS personnel who were seeking additional information about INS procedures, including naturalization procedures. However, they were regarded throughout the Field as out-of-date, incomplete, and rarely of much practical assistance.

                A review of these Operations Instructions confirms that they would not provide employees with a clear articulation of the 60-day presumptive period in relation to fingerprint cards and naturalization applications. In fact, we found only one instruction that related to the presumptive policy in connection with naturalization applications, Instruction 105.10.275 This instruction, dating from 1982, was the sole articulation of the presumptive policy in any Operations Instruction, memorandum, or directive made available to the OIG as part of our investigation. The instruction applied to all fingerprint checks and bio-checks required in connection with any INS application or petition, not just applications for naturalization.276 However, Instruction 105.10 stated that an application could be processed on the assumption that the response from the FBI was negative if no response had been received within 40 days.

                In her November 1996 memorandum to the Attorney General describing the fingerprint process, Commissioner Meissner implicitly acknowledged that INS had, at one point, a presumptive period of only 40 days. She explained that while the 40-day period formerly had been used for naturalization cases, it had "evolved" well before the 1990s to "a normal 60 day suspense." Her memorandum does not explain how the presumptive period "evolved" from 40 days to 60 days.

                A review of the various memoranda issued by INS Headquarters to the Field concerning criminal history checking procedures (produced by INS in connection with congressional hearings and the OIG's document request) revealed only a single reference to the presumptive policy. This reference was different from both the description of the presumptive period contained in the Operations Instructions and the description offered by Commissioner Meissner in her 1996 memorandum to the Attorney General. A February 1989 memorandum from INS Headquarters to the Field specified the presumptive period as 45 days, although it is difficult to discern whether the 45-day period related to fingerprint checks, bio-checks, or both. While the subject of the memo is the bio-check process in naturalization cases, the language provides: "[t]he waiting period for FBI clearance will continue to be 45 days to allow for processing the fingerprint record check. [Emphasis added.]"

                In our review, we found one other piece of information indicating that some offices adhered to a 45-day waiting period. When INS designed its NACS computer system (used to process naturalization applications), a case was considered "ready" to be naturalized provided 45 days had been allowed for the fingerprint check.

                Consequently, as INS approached the start of CUSA, there was no clear articulation to the Field of what the presumptive policy was or how long it was supposed to last. INS instruction manuals and other memoranda mentioned timeframes of 40, 45, and 60 days. Given the lack of a comprehensive, written fingerprint policy for naturalization applicants and minimal (and conflicting) guidance with respect to the presumptive period, predictably there was no uniform understanding within INS of the length of the presumptive period, as described below.

                No uniform understanding of the presumptive period existed within INS

                Most of the INS Headquarters officials interviewed by the OIG, including Commissioner Meissner, Deputy Commissioner Sale, David Rosenberg, Executive Associate Commissioner Aleinikoff, and Associate Commissioner Crocetti, indicated that the presumptive period had been 60 days prior to and during CUSA. However other INS officials, including Michael Aytes, who was the Assistant Commissioner for the Benefits Division and oversaw INS' service centers, and O'Reilly, who served as the Los Angeles CUSA site coordinator and later during CUSA was placed in charge of the naturalization program Service-wide, told the OIG that they believed the presumptive period before and during CUSA was 45 days. O'Reilly specifically recalled his work designing NACS to support his belief that the period was definitely only 45 days. In addition, notes taken by Elaine Kamarck of the Vice President's Office, who was briefed by Aleinikoff, Rosenberg, and other INS officials in February 1996 on the basic principles of naturalization processing, reflect that she was informed that the presumptive period was 45, not 60, days. The evidence thus indicates that it was not uniformly understood at INS Headquarters during CUSA that the presumptive period had been expanded to 60 days as the Commissioner described in her memorandum to the Attorney General.

                More important than Headquarters officials' varied understanding of the length of the presumptive period, however, was the awareness at Headquarters that districts applied differing presumptive periods. As set out below, we found conflicting interpretations of the presumptive period in the Field, and no evidence of any attempt by INS Headquarters to clarify the policy before or throughout most of CUSA.

                Witnesses in the Key City Districts offered the OIG a variety of descriptions of the presumptive period and how they understood it in the years preceding CUSA. In Chicago and New York, most District managers described the presumptive period as 60 days, but supervisors closer to the ranks of the DAOs in each District said the period had been 45 days until it was changed in the summer of 1996. In Los Angeles, the largest district in the country, District managers and line employees had different understandings of the presumptive period. While most managers told the OIG that they believed that the presumptive period was 60 days, others believed that it was 45 days. An informational packet sent to community groups participating in off-site processing also advised the organizations that 45 days were required after the receipt of the application for the FBI to complete the fingerprint check. Those who worked most closely with naturalization adjudications, however, understood the presumptive period to be 40 days, and a processing sheet for naturalization cases that was used during CUSA reflected a 40-day rule.277 In the Miami District, a 45-day presumptive period was used consistently before and during most of CUSA.278

                The risk created by shorter presumptive periods

                Processing naturalization cases according to a policy that allowed 40-45 days for the fingerprint check increased the risk that the FBI would not be able to process the record in time. From January to September 1996, for example, approximately 76,986 cards took more than 45 days but less than 60 days for the FBI to process.

                Much like Commissioner Meissner's testimony at the March 1997 Joint Hearing, many INS managers have stated that confusion about the exact length of the presumptive period was irrelevant because of the large application backlogs and the many months of delay between submission of an application to INS and the naturalization date. This view, however, is predicated on the assumption that an applicant's fingerprint card was sent to the FBI at the time the application was initially processed. In the absence of any directive from INS Headquarters specifying that fingerprint cards were to be sent to the FBI as soon as applications were received, districts instituted different practices whereby processing of fingerprint cards was delayed. Consequently, the supposition that large backlogs meant ample time for the fingerprint processing was flawed. Experiences in at least two cities contradict the inference that large backlogs obviated the need to clarify the presumptive period.

                (1) Los Angeles District

                In the Los Angeles District, extremely large backlogs did not mean that more time was available in which an applicant's fingerprint card could be checked. Regardless of the length of the backlog, clerks did not strip the fingerprint cards from the applications until it was time to schedule applicants for interview. This practice persisted well into CUSA.

                The Los Angeles District Director Richard Rogers noted in a memorandum to INS Headquarters in April 1994 that applicants were waiting approximately seven months to be interviewed,279 but the stripping and sending of cards was occurring almost three months after receipt of the application. While the memorandum stated that the four remaining months were still "an ample period" in which to obtain and interfile any related rap sheet, the memorandum nevertheless made clear that the cards were not being stripped and sent at the time applications were received by INS. Naturalization Section Chief (and later Deputy Assistant District Director for Adjudications) Donald Neufeld told the OIG that he recalled that before CUSA, data-entry and fingerprint card stripping was occurring only 60 days before interview.280 As Section Chief Neufeld pointed out, it was clear that during most of the time that applicants were waiting for their naturalization interviews, their fingerprint cards were still sitting at the INS office and were not being processed by the FBI.

                (2) Chicago District

                The Chicago District followed a similar practice to the one followed in Los Angeles before CUSA. Naturalization applications were stored with fingerprint cards attached and not stripped or data-entered until two months before the interview date. In addition, clerks did not send fingerprint cards to the FBI as soon as they were stripped but collected them in a box in the middle of the room and sent them to the FBI every two to three weeks when the box was full. Although Chicago District officials made some changes to the process to address the delay in the submission of fingerprint cards in 1994, the staff could not keep pace with the increasing demands of production and the practice of sending the fingerprint cards to the FBI in a batch was continuing as late as December 1994. By not sending the fingerprint cards to the FBI until less than two months before the interview, the Chicago District increased the likelihood that an applicant would be interviewed before the fingerprint check had been completed.

                Failure to resubmit fingerprint cards rejected by the FBI

                In addition to sufficient time to process an applicant's fingerprint card, a successful background check also required that the FBI receive a card that was capable of being compared to information in its databases.

                The record shows that the FBI historically rejected a significant number of cards submitted by INS and that INS Headquarters was well aware of the high rejection rate. According to FBI officials interviewed by the OIG, INS' historic rejection rate of approximately 15 percent was higher than other agencies. In October 1991, INS Headquarters reported to the Field that the FBI was rejecting 25 to 30 percent of INS fingerprint cards.281 According to an internal INS Headquarters report, in fiscal year 1993 approximately four percent of the fingerprint cards submitted by INS were masthead rejects and approximately 11 percent of fingerprint cards were unclassifiable.

                INS Headquarters officials asserted in interviews with the OIG that it had been INS policy to resubmit cards returned by the FBI. Associate Commissioner Crocetti even expressed his belief that guidance had been provided to the Field in this regard. However, the evidence shows that for many years before and throughout most of CUSA (until fingerprint cards were processed through the Fingerprint Clearance Coordination Center, an INS centralized processing facility that opened in June 1996) no such resubmission policy existed.

                With respect to fingerprint cards rejected by the FBI because of masthead errors, INS failed to articulate any policy guidance to the Field before June 1996 on what they should do upon receiving the rejected card from the FBI, despite the fact that the failure to resubmit had been commented on in an OIG inspection report in early 1994. With respect to cards rejected by the FBI because of "unclassifiability," not only was there no policy requiring resubmission, we found evidence of a policy that affirmatively permitted the Field to adjudicate naturalization cases despite the rejection.

                The contradiction between what INS Headquarters officials asserted was INS policy and what the evidence shows actually happened in the Field is similar to the dichotomy that existed about the presumptive policy discussed above. The lack of uniform understanding about INS' resubmission policy similarly resulted in disparate practices in the Field before and during CUSA. As discussed below, none of the five Key City Districts required resubmission of rejected cards in every case.

                The Field's failure to resubmit rejected cards remained uncorrected through July 1996. Thus, as ultimately reported by KPMG, of the 1,049,867 persons originally identified as having naturalized during CUSA, 124,711 (or 12 percent) did not undergo a full fingerprint comparison because the FBI deemed their fingerprint cards "unclassifiable."282 In addition, the FBI had no record of ever receiving a fingerprint card for 61,366 persons naturalized during CUSA. Because the FBI does not keep track of cards rejected for masthead errors, it is impossible to tell with certainty why no records were found for these 61,366 naturalized persons. However, an applicant whose card was submitted to the FBI but rejected because of missing or incomplete masthead data would leave no trace in the FBI billing records.283

                INS' lack of a policy requiring resubmission of rejected and unclassifiable fingerprint cards

                In the years before CUSA, INS Headquarters did not recognize or emphasize the importance of resubmitting rejected fingerprint cards. Neither the Operations Instructions nor other official sources described what the Field should do upon receiving a fingerprint card rejected by the FBI because of masthead errors. Prior to 1982, applicants whose cards had been deemed "unclassifiable" were required to submit new fingerprint cards that INS sent to the FBI. However, INS abolished this policy at the time it adopted the presumptive policy.

                (1) Instructions concerning unclassifiable cards before 1994

                When INS adopted the presumptive policy in 1982 and directed the FBI to destroy the fingerprint cards it submitted for which there was no match after a full fingerprint comparison, INS also asked the FBI to destroy unclassifiable fingerprint cards. Because these procedures reduced the clerical burden on INS of having to process unclassifiable cards returned by the FBI (it would reduce the amount of incoming mail, clerks would not have to find the relating applicant file or prepare a letter to send to the applicant), this, like the presumptive period, was considered by INS to be a "system improvement." This request made of the FBI suggests that as early as 1982 INS had begun to underestimate the importance of a criminal history check based on a full fingerprint comparison for every naturalization applicant. Rather than expend the clerical resources required to resubmit a new card, INS chose to risk not having a full fingerprint check completed for applicants whose cards were deemed unclassifiable and returned by the FBI.

                By 1990, however, when the FBI began to charge agencies like INS for fingerprint checks, including cards they found to be "unclassifiable," the FBI had resumed returning unclassifiable cards to INS. As a result, INS would know if it had been charged for the fingerprint check but had not received the benefit of a full fingerprint comparison. There is no indication, however, that INS then began requiring district offices to resubmit rejected fingerprint cards in every instance. INS Headquarters' only written policy guidance to the Field in this respect was Operations Instruction 105.10, discussed above, which instructed that unclassifiable cards be routed and attached to the applicant's file, but it did not explicitly require resubmission of a fingerprint card.284 Ironically, although INS had changed its fingerprint processing procedures in 1982 in order to preserve INS clerical resources, INS was wasting money by not resubmitting new cards for unclassifiable ones once the FBI began charging for fingerprint checks.

                (2) Instructions to the Field on how to save money in the submission of fingerprint cards

                The FBI's decision to charge contributing agencies for their fingerprint card submissions prompted INS to address one aspect of the process. Beginning in 1990, the Field was exhorted to "minimize the number of errors on fingerprint cards"and "to upgrade fingerprint card submissions to the FBI" because the FBI was charging not only for each submission, but also for each resubmission unless proper procedures were followed. The memoranda reminded the Field that in order for INS to avoid being charged for the resubmission of an unclassifiable card, the rejected, unclassifiable card had to be stapled to the new card before being submitted to the FBI. The memoranda did not describe in what instances cards should be resubmitted, but simply instructed the Field to resubmit in accordance with "existing procedures." The earliest of these memoranda, one from September 1990 that is referenced in later directives, advised the Field to look to specific regulations and Operations Instructions for guidance with respect to resubmitting fingerprint cards. As discussed above, however, none of these regulations or Instructions required that a rejected card be resubmitted to the FBI.

                The record thus shows that when INS Headquarters did provide guidance to the Field about the processing of rejected fingerprint cards, it was in the name of saving money. There was no reminder about the importance of ensuring that each applicant's fingerprints be checked or that the adjudication of cases be postponed in order to permit sufficient time to resubmit fingerprint cards. Instead, the emphasis was again on the "cost-effectiveness" of INS' fingerprint processing. As the Field's naturalization workload increased in 1993 and early 1994, there was no indication that Headquarters wanted the Field to pay particular attention to the processing of these record checks for naturalization applicants.

                (3) The discretionary resubmission of rejected cards

                In March 1994, prompted by an OIG inspection of fingerprint processing procedures at INS that was published a month earlier, INS Headquarters addressed the processing of fingerprint cards in connection with benefit applications. In a memorandum to the Field dated March 17, 1994, James Puleo, then one of two Executive Associate Commissioners, noted that it was important to route information about the applicant's criminal history or about his or her "rejected unclassifiable" card to the naturalization adjudicator. His memorandum said, "[p]rocedures for attaching arrest reports and rejected unclassifiable fingerprints to related files and flagging applications to the adjudicator's attention must be ensured." However, although INS' Operations Instruction had left room for the adjudicator to infer that the appropriate response to seeing an "unclassifiable" card in an applicant file was to request a new card from the applicant, Puleo's March 1994 memorandum made explicit that resubmission was not required in every case. It noted that in "those cases where fingerprints are found unclassifiable," District Directors were "to exercise discretion in requiring the submission of new fingerprints and delaying adjudication of the application pending results." No criteria were offered to describe how this discretion was to be exercised.

                Our investigation found that the March 1994 memorandum is the only policy statement, other than the Operations Instruction, that INS Headquarters offered the Field about the processing of rejected fingerprint cards before INS launched the CUSA program in FY 1996. As such, it was deficient in many respects. First and most obviously, the memorandum sanctioned a decision not to resubmit rejected unclassifiable cards. Second, although it noted that resubmission of unclassifiable cards was in the discretion of the District Director, by failing to address the second type of rejected card"”the masthead reject"”and also referring to "rejected [emphasis added] unclassifiable" cards, the memorandum was susceptible to interpretation that resubmission of all rejected cards fell within the District Director's discretion. Although many INS employees told OIG that they had understood the difference between the types of FBI rejections, as discussed below, a significant number reported that they did not, and these employees would have believed that resubmission of any card rejected by the FBI was discretionary.

                The other significant flaw in the March 1994 memorandum is that it assigned to District Directors a matter about which there could be no meaningful exercise of even-handed discretion.285 To determine that an applicant need not undergo a fingerprint check was the equivalent of deciding that some applicants appeared not to warrant further investigation while others did. It is difficult to determine what factors would trigger a decision to investigate a particular applicant further except factors based on stereotypes about an applicant's age, socio-economic status, country of origin, and the like. Not surprisingly, we did not find evidence in the Key City Districts of any local guidance detailing how to determine whether resubmission was warranted. In two districts, we found that the exercise of this discretion was delegated to the individual adjudicator. Under such policies, an applicant who appeared to the adjudicator not to be the type of person who would have a criminal record would not have his or her record checked by the FBI. An applicant who fit the adjudicator's idea of a criminal, however, would likely suffer a delay not experienced by other applicants because his or her fingerprint card would be resubmitted to the FBI.286

                The March memorandum had a final weakness worth noting here. It did not require, in those instances where the District Director resubmitted a fingerprint card to the FBI, that the naturalization adjudication be delayed until the FBI had a chance to check the second fingerprint card. Like the decision to resubmit, the INS policy left the decision concerning "delaying the adjudication pending the results" of the FBI review to the District Director's discretion. Of course, to resubmit a fingerprint card but not also wait to receive the results before adjudicating the case essentially rendered the resubmission meaningless. We found that most districts at least respected a second presumptive period that began when the adjudicator sent a new card to the FBI. However, the lack of any specific requirement to honor such a delay resulted in a haphazard application of it in the Field. Instead of requiring the applicant to return to complete the interview once the presumptive period had again run, some districts simply allowed the presumptive period to be tolled during the time between the interview and the ceremony date, hoping to receive any new information from the FBI before the applicant was sworn in. Furthermore, as production pressures increased during CUSA, districts had even less incentive to engage in a discretionary exercise that would slow down rather than speed up the completion of a case.

                By 1995, then, the guidance that INS Headquarters supplied the Field concerning fingerprint processing was much like the guidance provided on permanent file policy as discussed in the previous chapter. On the surface, the policy statements issued by Headquarters gave the appearance that it wanted to ensure uniform standards in naturalization processing. In reality, however, INS Headquarters failed to provide any concrete guidance. In the absence of leadership about such details, especially as the new CUSA initiative and its production demands moved to center stage, the Field predictably inferred that taking the time to process each applicant's fingerprint card thoroughly, like taking the time to review the applicant's permanent file, was not a priority to INS Headquarters. As a result, to varying degrees it was not a priority in the Field.

                Key City District practices in regard to processing fingerprint cards rejected by the FBI

                As noted above, the practices in the Key City Districts relating to rejected fingerprint cards before and during the CUSA program (until the changes brought by Direct Mail and the FCCC, discussed below) reflected the absence of any uniform policy requiring resubmission. The evidence from two Key City Districts, New York and San Francisco, showed comparatively more diligence in processing fingerprint cards than did evidence from the other three, and we discuss their practices below. No Key City District, however, had a consistent policy of resubmitting every type of fingerprint card rejected by the FBI.

                In each Key City District, we found evidence of confusion between what managers believed was controlling policy and what employees described as actual practice regarding the processing of fingerprint cards. In this regard, the failure of communication about fingerprint processing within the Districts mirrored the failure of communication between Headquarters and the Field.

                (1) Districts that made some efforts to resubmit rejected fingerprint cards

                New York District

                Witnesses in the New York District reported a more cautious policy than that articulated in Puleo's March 1994 memorandum. Most said that a second fingerprint card was submitted to the FBI when an applicant's first fingerprint card was rejected because of either a masthead error or its unclassifiability.287 Despite such a policy, the practice in New York resulted in rejected fingerprint cards not being resubmitted in every instance.

                In the early 1990s, the New York District instituted a policy of requiring applicants to submit two fingerprint cards as a means to address the problems associated with rejected fingerprint cards. The rationale was that if a card was rejected, resubmission would be easier if another fingerprint card was readily available in the applicant's file.288 Although this policy did make resubmission less burdensome for clerical staff in the naturalization section who, we found, were generally aware of the District's policy to resubmit rejected and unclassifiable fingerprint cards, it was far from foolproof.

                First, as reported by then-ADDE Mary Ann Gantner to INS Headquarters in response to the March 1994 memorandum,289 if the applicant originally submitted only one fingerprint card and that card was rejected by the FBI as "illegible," the New York District did not obtain a second set of fingerprints from the applicant. In addition, naturalization clerks were not the only clerical staff to handle rejected fingerprint cards, and other clerical staff were not necessarily familiar with the local practice concerning use of a second fingerprint card. Clerks in the District's main file room, where all District mail was received, processed rejected fingerprint cards when the computer systems indicated that the A-file was in the main file room or in another FCO.290 These clerks placed the fingerprint card in the file, and it was up to the adjudicating officer to decide whether to submit a new fingerprint card at the interview.291

                With respect to rejected fingerprint cards associated with files in the naturalization section,naturalization managers and experienced clerks told the OIG that clerks obtained the related files and submitted the second fingerprint card to the FBI along with the rejected fingerprint card for both masthead rejects and unclassifiables.292 Clerks also indicated that they sometimes sent letters to applicants requesting additional information to complete the fingerprint card. Naturalization clerks did not delay processing of these cases, but date-stamped the N-400 a second time when the fingerprint card was resubmitted.

                While the policy of requiring applicants to submit two fingerprint cards may have improved the likelihood that the second card would be submitted if the first card was rejected, it did not necessarily improve the chances that the second card could be reviewed successfully by the FBI. In fact, because fingerprint cards generally were obtained from the same source, and since clerks told the OIG that they submitted, in the first instance, the card that appeared to be of superior quality, submitting the second card likely meant that the FBI would encounter the same mistakes and reject the card again. Fingerprint cards rejected a second time were placed in the applicant's file and brought to the attention of an SDAO. The adjudicating officer then decided whether additional fingerprints would be requested and resubmitted.

                While the New York District policy was to resubmit all rejected fingerprint cards, witnesses acknowledged that sufficient clerical resources were not always devoted to processing rejected cards. In the main file room, for example, processing responses from the FBI was secondary to handling applications and petitions that had fees attached and required immediate attention. According to Section Chief Rose Chapman, sometimes it was necessary to assign DAOs to assist the clerical staff with processing rejected fingerprint cards because of accumulating backlogs.

                San Francisco District

                In the San Francisco District, we found no consistent understanding of any policy in regard to the resubmission of rejected fingerprint cards. However, the evidence indicates that offices within the District made efforts to varying degrees to resubmit cards rejected for "masthead" errors. This was a marked improvement over what an OIG inspection team had found in 1993 when the San Francisco District was discarding rejected cards.

                We found that the San Francisco District did not resubmit every rejected card because they followed Headquarters' advice that permitted "discretion" in the resubmission of unclassifiable cards. Where there was confus


                • #23
                  Significant increase in number of visa denials by U.S.

                  TIMES NEWS NETWORK[ THURSDAY, APRIL 03, 2003

                  AHMEDABAD: The US immigration authorities have been rejecting greater number of visa applications. The number of refusals has dramatically increased in 2002-03, and an increasing number of Indians are losing out. Piyush Shelat, a medical professional staying in the US for the last 10 years, had made a visa application in 1996 for status adjustment in the US after his wife Sangita Shelat received US citizenship. "My application for adjusting the visa status was rejected within minutes," says Shelat. He, now faces deportation, had overstayed on his visitor visa in 1994. Many like Shelat have been turned down by the US authorities this year. With stricter checks, many, who may have otherwise been eligible for becoming US permanent residents, are presently facing deportation from the US, inform immigration lawyers in the US. Gregory Siskind, immigration attorney from Siskind, Susser, Haas & Devine in the US says that for security reasons, the US Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) has adopted a zero-tolerance policy on all cases.

                  "INS may reject the application for minor reasons, including status violations or incorrect answers on forms. Minute mistakes may also lead to application rejections," says Siskind. In the past, the agency was flexible and would judge the overall circumstances when making decisions. From March 1, the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (BCIS) has taken over charge from the INS. And backlogs are again up at the INS since the switch. "It also has an impact on my clients," says Siskind. "Obviously denials and backlogs are not good. With this, a person's immigration hopes could be dashed." With increasing number of denials, the board of the immigration appeals system, a watchdog set by the US Justice Department in 1940 over immigration courts, is also swamped with cases. The changes pushed by attorney general Ashcroft directed the Board of Immigration Appeals to clear 56,000 backlog cases by March 25, notes Los Angeles Times.

                  A review conducted by The Times found that to meet this deadline the Board of Immigration Appeals rejected 86% of its appeals in October, compared to 59% the previous October. With proliferation of summary decisions without explanations by the board, "Immigrants are appealing to the federal court system in unprecedented numbers, creating another backlog," notes the L.A. Times. Immigrants and their lawyers in the US are anxious over the recent increase in denials and the subsequent backlog of cases. Robert Gottfried, an immigration lawyer in the US says, "At the New York District Office and the Vermont Service Center, there are 1000s of cases that remain unadjudicated. The Vermont Service Center is currently adjudicating employment cases received in the fall of 2001. The New York District Office are scheduling interviews for family-based cases filed in May 2001 for July 2003. They are supposed to shut down for interviews in the month of April, in order work on all their old cases that were interviewed but not fully adjudicated." The checks also take more time because all applications now have to pass an IBIS security check make sure that the individual has no criminal or immigration violations, informs Gottfried. And increase in application backlog has also occurred because the US Immigration and Naturalization Service at one point stopped adjudicating adjustment applications before implementing new rules of fingerprints and thorough background checks, informs Hamel Vyas, an immigration lawyer in the US.



                  • #24
                    There should not be any reason for the conclusion who is best, we are not competing here, instead if we concentrate towards the questions and write our experience, we can learn more and have good knowledge.

                    RIR. You should check the demand of your job, if you think your profession is still in demand at present then only you can RIR otherwise its not the good time, as employer hase to prove the special skills and lack of menpower available within the country + efforts made to get prospective candidate within the country.


                    • #25

                      You mentioned that if a company has had layoffs a company should not apply for RIR?

                      But if my company has not had any layoffs in the last 2 years , then can i apply for RIR?

                      or because the unemployment rate is so high should i just do the regular labor certification??

                      Please Please help !!


                      • #26
                        Take a look at


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