USCIS announced that it is phasing out InfoPass appointments at local offices (self-scheduled appointments) except on a limited basis. Basically they will allow appointments on an emergency basis and to deliver documents to the local office only. USCIS stated that their research showed that for the vast majority of people who make appointments at local offices, the questions they asked could be answered using the on-line resources at USCIS.com or calling the 1-800 number. In addition to the limited on-line appointments, if you call the 1-800 number and they determine that an appointment at the local office is needed, they will schedule it directly for you. There are certainly pluses and minuses to this new policy.
In the plus category, this should allow officers to spend more time interviewing people and adjudicating cases, thus bringing timelines for family and employment based green cards down.
In the minus category, it will make it much harder to find out exactly what is going on with a case once it is at the local office. Most local offices use to have special emails that immigration attorney’s could contact if there were issues. In addition, attorney’s (as well as immigrants themselves) could make appointments with the local office to find out what was happening with a case. Now, all that is available is calling the 1-800 number to try and find out what is going on. The only result of this is that it will be much harder to actually get the status of a case.
Currently the new policy is only in place in a limited number of states. However it should be rolled out nationwide by the new year. We will keep you updated as more information becomes available.
Please remember, as always, this blog does not offer legal advice. If you need legal advice, consult with a lawyer instead of a blog. Thank you.
According to the American Immigration Lawyer’s Association, USCIS is changing the process for making InfoPass Appointments. According to their press release:
AILA has received reports that as part of a new pilot program, select USCIS field offices are anticipated to roll out a new scheduling process for InfoPass appointments that will eliminate self-scheduling of InfoPass appointments online. Under the new pilot program, the scheduling of InfoPass appointments for select USCIS local field offices will instead be coordinated by the USCIS National Customer Service Center. The stated purpose for this new program is to avoid InfoPass appointments being utilized for routine inquiries that can be resolved via the Customer Service Hotline. According to reports, USCIS plans to implement this new pilot program at five local USCIS field offices: Hartford, CT; El Paso, TX; Jacksonville, FL; Sacramento, CA; and San Francisco, CA.
Once the new pilot program is implemented, in order to schedule an InfoPass appointment at one of the above listed USCIS field offices, stakeholders will first need to contact the NCSC by phone (1-800-375-5283), speak to a Tier 1 officer, and request to schedule an InfoPass appointment. The call will then be escalated to a Tier 2 USCIS representative who will confirm that the issue is appropriate for an InfoPass appointment before scheduling the appointment.
USCIS has not yet publicly released information about this new pilot program on the USCIS website and the implementation date of the program at all five of the selected USCIS field offices is not yet confirmed. AILA will continue to monitor the rollout of this new initiative and has reached out to USCIS for additional information on its implementation.
As stated above, USCIS is trying to prevent routine inquiries that it feels can be handled by its customer service call center from going to the local offices. Thankfully AILA will be monitoring the roll out of the program as it is very clear that USCIS could start to abuse this system by routinely denying appointments and requiring people to go through the customer service call center (which, in many cases, is less than adequate).
We will update you when more information is available.