Congress Receives Annual Report from Citizenship and Immigrations Services Ombudsman


The Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman (CIS Ombudsman) recently provided its annual report to the United States Congress. The report suggests ways to improve the system’s efficiency, giving more help to employers and people applying to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for immigration benefits.

This year’s report is an overview of the mission and services provided by the CIS Ombudsman. The report also includes the USCIS’s programming and policy challenges from 2021 through early 2022. Finally, it discusses the recommendations, pervasive problems, and best practices for carrying out U.S. immigration laws.

Phyllis A. Coven, serving in the CIS Ombudsman, says, “There’s no greater barrier to the immigration process than the backlogs currently confronting USCIS.” She goes on to say that the report looks at the effect of the record delays in processing and suggests corrective actions the agency can take to provide relief to the affected individuals and agencies.

Here are examples of points included in the report:

  • USCIS backlog processes, including their effects on agencies, individuals, and employers, and how to address these effects
  • Delays taking place in the renewal of employment authorization documents, the agency’s recommendations for adding more flexibility to the renewal process, and furthering the current efforts of the USCIS in averting employment gaps
  • The process for requesting advance parole and how to provide easier access for legitimate travel for applicants who have pending applications for adjustment of status
  • The difficulties applicants have when obtaining expedited processing, suggestions on how to improve access and transparency of the process
  • The affirmative asylum backlog for the USCIS of 430,000 cases, as well as recommendations for improving the efficiency and quality of asylum adjudications
  • The obstacles encountered by asylum applicants in removal proceedings when trying to get proof of employment
  • The digital strategy and efforts the USCIS has been making to increase electronic processing and online filing
  • Information about the new U nonimmigrant status bona fide determination process

Two formal recommendations were issued to the USCIS earlier in 2022: A recommendation concerning the USCIS’s fee-for-service funding model and a beneficiary notification recommendation for Form I-129. This recommendation encourages the USCIS to supply some beneficiaries with the documentation required by law, making them less vulnerable to exploitation by unethical employers.

The CIS Ombudsman is independent of the USCIS. It works to improve immigration services by helping in individual cases, engaging with immigration stakeholders across the country, identifying systemic issues, and making recommendations on how the USCIS can better administer immigration benefits.

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