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Most Recent Updates from USCIS Texas Service Center
The American Immigration Legal Association (AILA) recently distributed to its members an update of various issues after a meeting with USCIS officers at the Texas Service Center (TSC) in November 2009. The meeting covered multiple areas of concern including TSC processing times, EB-1 adjudication standards, denial without RFEs, separated derivative applicants, among other issues. The minutes of the meeting are set up in a question/answer format. A summary of TSC’s response follows below.
Updates from TSC
According to TSC, case filings have decreased by 30% in comparison to last year around this time. Approximately 700 employment-based I-485s and 650 I-140s are received by the TSC office each week. As far as I-485s are concerned, most of them have undergone pre-adjudication review; applicants are still waiting for a visa number. TSC is currently not transferring cases out and still claims jurisdiction over I-140s that have been e-filed.
TSC is also making an attempt to improve the efficiency of their email system. Earlier this year, USCIS released protocol for petitioners/beneficiaries to follow regarding contact procedures. TSC states that 40% of the beneficiaries/petitioners who email them do not follow procedures by first calling NSCS directly. Finally, TSC maintains that in order to ensure receipt of an application on time, e-filing, if applicable, should be utilized.
Explanation about Processing Times
Regarding processing of I-765s, TSC states that they experienced a delay in 2009, with around 15-20% of applications taking 90 days or more to pass a decision on. Since then, TSC has corrected this problem. Processing times for EADs are back to around 45 days. TSC plans to pass decisions on all I-765s and I-131s in 50-55 days.
EB-1 decision standards
TSC assures that their officers receive continuous training on how to judge EB-1 applications. At this meeting, TSC gave a rough estimate of I-140s denied versus I-140s approved over the past three years (7,600-15,000 denied as compared to 65,000-73,000 approved). They have the lowest RFE rate out of all other service centers. Furthermore, TSC issues a reminder that initial and RFE petitions should be well organized with evidence clearly showing what criteria is supported. They also stress the quality and not the quantity of documents submitted. TSC previously addressed this issue at a meeting with an AILA liaison officer on May 19, 2009. Our firm published an article about this issue last year. If you would like to read that article, please click here.
Possibility of application denial without first receiving an RFE
TSC states that applications without sufficient evidence presented in the initial petition could possibly be denied. If a petition has provided the required evidence, but the adjudicating officer has a question or needs more information, he/she will issue a request for evidence. If an officer believes that an additional response will help to appropriately adjudicate a petition that will most likely be denied, he/she will issue a Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID).
Derivative applicants separated in adjudication process
TSC places high priority on “lost children”. They have gone through all pending cases in which main beneficiaries are separated from their derivatives. They maintain that all such cases have been reconnected. They also recommend that in instances where a derivative application (applicant has current priority date) is still pending, an attorney should send an email to the TSC designated email address.
Addressing children who are turning 14 in I-485 cases
TSC states that they regularly check the system for such cases. Usually, TSC will schedule biometrics four months prior to the child turns 14. If something has not been scheduled four months after the child turns 14, then an email should be sent by an attorney. TSC also states that documents should not be sent unless they are asked for.
Transfer of cases for interview (regarding minor children)
TSC says that they do not typically schedule a child’s interview without the parent(s). However, this is possible. In cases where children do not go through inspection upon entering the U.S., they will usually be subject to an interview. It is also possible that notices will be sent for child and parent at different times.
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