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USCIS Ombudsman’s Office 2022 Annual Report Issued

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USCIS Ombudsman’s Office 2022 Annual Report Issued

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This month, the Office of the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman, an oversight entity created by Congress over U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, issued its annual report to Congress regarding the state of USCIS and its recommendations on improvements to USCIS.  This report echoes the issues that practitioners and those seeking immigration benefits have seen throughout the last year, and extending into 2022.  Among these are:

  • The need for more flexibility in renewing employment authorization;
  • Increasing access to advance parole;
  • Improving access to the expedite process;
  • The massive backlog in affirmative asylum cases; and
  • Eliminating barriers to obtaining proof of employment authorization for asylum applicants in removal proceedings.

The key findings highlighted the harmful impacts USCIS’s backlogs and processing delays are having, and underscored the need, in the Ombudsman’s words, for USCIS to:

  • Expand flexibility in providing work and travel documents to eligible requestors;
  • Make the expedite process more efficient and consistent;
  • Undertake new operational approached to address the affirmative asylum backlog;
  • Continue robust digitization efforts; and
  • Apply successes (such as a new process for U Visa applicants) to other programs.

Overall, the report offers practical solutions to the systemic problems that we have been seeing from USCIS, albeit none are a silver bullet.  The massive backlogs and processing times are causing immense stress on the immigration system, and the Ombudsman’s office itself even saw a 79% increase in case assistance requests from 2020.  Hopefully, these recommendations are taken seriously by USCIS, and with more voices chiming in on how to solve the issues the agency is facing, we will see them resolved sooner.

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