On May 6, 2009, USCIS California Service Center representatives met with representatives from stakeholder associations, including NAFSA leaders, primarily to discuss scholar and employment-based issues and stakeholder meetings and inquiry protocols. Read the attached written answers to pre-submitted questions.

Q&A Topics included:

  • Scholar and Employment-based Inquiry Protocols
  • Service Center Errors
  • Case Status Online Issues
  • I-129 Validity Dates
  • I-539 Requirements
  • Family-based Issues

In addition to the attached Q&A, the meeting also included discussion on the following:

Scholar/Employment-Based Inquiries

CSC is revising the way in which it will entertain inquiries on scholar and employment-based cases. See USCIS Service Centers- Scholar and Employment-Based Inquiries for more information.

Please note: USCIS has requested that this contact information not be available publicly; therefore, NAFSA has placed the information on a "member-only" page. Advisers who are not members of NAFSA may request assistance or the contact information from their regional NAFSA Regulatory Ombudsperson through IssueNet: Get Liaison Help.

Rationale behind the new system:

  • CSC is seeking a way to standardize their inquiry system and to utilize the NCSC system to better advantage.
  • The CSC officers doing the follow-up will be the same people who currently answer [email protected] emails. Current processing of similar issues is a 5-19 day turnaround.
  • When an individual contacts the NCSC, the NCSC creates a Service Request Management Tool (SRMT) that are referred to CSC to address minor corrections, etc.
  • CSC currently receives on average 1100 inquiries per week, approx. 875 of which are for address changes, leaving 225 per week that need additional assistance from CSC. NCSC will be able to handle the majority of these types of inquiries.
  • USCIS wants to streamline the SRMT process in order to provide better service and to better track where errors arise and use them as training tools. Providing one process for all inquiries will help them organize the inquiries and will help in analysis.
  • USCIS is developing an electronic template or form for inquiries and hopes for it to be available by the end of 2009. An electronic form filled out by the inquirer will reduce errors in data entry.

Concerns expressed by Stakeholders:

  • Possibility of increased timeframe for resolution of inquiries
  • Because of space limitations, CSC often sends files to archive soon after adjudication, which results in further delays in retrieving the file back from archives.
    • CSC is considering alternative methods to keep I-129 files or other information after adjudication. In the future, electronic storage of files should be available after implementation of the USCIS Transformation project.
  • Reports from the field indicate that NCSC scripts may be inaccurate
    • Note: scripts are written by the USCIS Office of Communications (at USCIS Headquarters) and Service Centers are not involved in their development.

Future of CSC Stakeholder Meetings

In addition to NAFSA, the invitees included representatives from the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), the American Council on International Personnel (ACIP) and a variety of community based organizations involved in immigration matters. In the past, CSC has held liaison meetings with these organizations individually. For future meeting, it is CSC's intention to hold an annual or bi-annual consolidated liaison meeting with all of these stakeholder groups. In addition, NAFSAns may see fewer CSC representatives at NAFSA conferences in the future.

Other Issues

  • Pre-completion OPT
    • Education institutions still report denials of full-time pre-completion OPT for students who have finished all coursework
    • NAFSA note: USCIS SCOPS has confirmed that they have provided guidance to Service Centers about this issue.
  • RFE Response Times
    • CSC indicated that the timeframe given in an RFE cannot be extended. The individual should respond as best as possible with what is available, and explain any relevant extenuating circumstances. The officer can then assess whether to send a second RFE. Above all, do not just simply respond that the officer doesn’t know what she/he is doing.
  • I-129 H-1B Petitions
    • H-1B petitions to recapture time should include all passport pages.
    • Include the current H-1B Data Collection and Filing Fee Exemption Supplement form with any I-129, regardless of which form version is used. All current I-129 petitions must provide an answer to the TARP question, or the adjudicator will RFE.