Vermont Service Center:
During the American Immigration Lawyers' Association (AILA)-INS Vermont Service Center (VSC) liaison conference call on April 17th, the VSC indicated that all files must now undergo a security check. As of that date, there were approximately 40,000 cases that required the security clearance before a final decision could be rendered. This will have a substantial impact on adjudication, probably resulting in at least an additional month in sending out approval notices. Requests for evidence (RFEs) will continue to be processed. It is the final adjudication that is being delayed.
Premium processing cases will be adjudicated within 15 days, but in the event there is a "hit" on the security check, the case will then be sent to Investigations and the 15 day clock will stop until the investigation has been completed. The VSC intends to notify petitioners when the matter has been sent for further investigation.
The delay will impact all cases, except N-400 naturalization applications, including EADs for practical training. The VSC indicated that I-130 petitions are likely to be delayed the most; marriage fraud cases, which are already backlogged, will also be receiving lower priority.
I-551 Processing for Family with Children Under 14
Once the I-485 application to adjust status for the principal beneficiary has been approved, fingerprint notices are generally sent to the primary beneficiary and dependent family members. However, if there are any children under age 14, the VSC will waive the requirement of fingerprints for those children, and immediately issue the I-551 card. However, the principal beneficiary, spouse and all children over 14 years of age, will almost simultaneously be receiving a fingerprint call-in notice for completion of an I-89.
The INS has begun to institute a zero tolerance policy. This means that if people are out of status, adjudicators will not be exercising discretion to consider the status violation de minimis and approve the benefit being sought. There is tremendous pressure being brought to bear by the Administration, the Congress, and the INS itself to ensure that the present state of the law is being followed precisely.
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