In its 2010 Annual Report to Congress, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Ombudsman makes 20 recommendations for improving USCIS services to the public. This is the seventh annual report, produced as required by section 452(c) of the Homeland Security Act of 2002. A summary of the report's recommendations is below. Download the entire 144-page report for additional detail.

Requests for Evidence

Recommendation 1
The Ombudsman recommends that USCIS implement new and expanded training to ensure that adjudicators understand and apply the "preponderance of the evidence" standard in adjudications. (AR2010-01)
Recommendation 2
The Ombudsman recommends that, consistent with applicable regulations, USCIS require adjudicators to specify the facts, circumstances, and/or derogatory information necessitating the issuance of an RFE. (AR2010-02)
Recommendation 3
The Ombudsman recommends that USCIS establish clear adjudicatory L-1B (Intracompany Transferees – Specialized Knowledge) guidelines through the structured notice and comment process of the Administrative Procedures Act. (AR2010-03)
Recommendation 4
The Ombudsman recommends that USCIS implement a pilot program requiring: (1) 100 percent supervisory RFE review of one or more product lines, and (2) an internal uniform checklist for adjudicators to complete prior to issuance of an RFE. (AR2010-04)

USCIS Call Centers

Recommendation 5
The Ombudsman recommends that USCIS provide a selection in the Interactive Voice Response (IVR) to immediately connect to a live representative who can respond or direct a call when none of the IVR options is appropriate. (AR2010-05)
Recommendation 6
The Ombudsman recommends that, first, USCIS utilize commercial technology that would enable more efficient and direct access to live assistance by providing an option in the IVR to immediately connect callers to: (1) Tier 1 Customer Service Representatives for basic, informational questions and (2) a Tier 2 Immigration Services Officer for questions on filed or pending cases. (AR2010-06)
Recommendation 7
The Ombudsman recommends that, second, USCIS eliminate the scripted information over a targeted period of time to enable the agency to train staff to answer basic immigration inquiries. (AR2010-07)
Recommendation 8
The Ombudsman recommends that USCIS designate a point of contact within each field office and service center to be available to Tier 2 supervisors: (1) to answer time sensitive inquiries including, for example, missing or lost Requests for Evidence (RFEs) in an individual’s file, and (2) to provide information on individual field office operations and procedures to respond to customers’ inquiries. (AR2010-08)
Recommendation 9
The Ombudsman recommends that USCIS routinely obtain information from all Tier 2 Immigration Services Officers as a resource to identify trends and resolve these issues of concern to customers and stakeholders. (AR2010-09)

Military Immigration Issues

Recommendation 10
The Ombudsman recommends that USCIS provide military families the option to have the office with initial jurisdiction complete adjudications for family members of active duty personnel, even when the family relocates outside of the district. (AR2010-10)

USCIS and Removal Proceedings

Recommendation 11
The Ombudsman recommends that USCIS coordinate with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) to provide the public with one document that specifies each agency’s responsibilities within the removal process and the basic steps and information that respondents need to know about the jurisdiction of each agency. (AR2010-11)

Form N-648 (Medical Certification for Disability Exceptions) Processing

Recommendation 12
The Ombudsman recommends that USCIS assign one expert or supervisory adjudicator as the point of contact in each field office for the public, in accordance with the USCIS September 2007 N-648 guidance memorandum. (AR2010-12)
Recommendation 13
The Ombudsman recommends that USCIS distribute, and make publicly available on the website, a training module for medical professionals who complete Form N-648. (AR2010-13)
Recommendation 14
The Ombudsman recommends that USCIS revise the current practices for processing Form N-648 to utilize experts to adjudicate the Medical Certification for Disability Exceptions. (AR2010-14)
Recommendation 15
The Ombudsman recommends that USCIS track the number of Forms N-648 filed, approved, and rejected, as well as other key information. (AR2010-15)

Form I-824 (Application for Action on an Approved Application or Petition) Processing

Recommendation 16
The Ombudsman recommends that USCIS establish a goal to process Forms I-824 requesting duplicate approval notices within days of receipting, and to process all other I-824s more expeditiously. (AR2010-16)
Recommendation 17
The Ombudsman recommends that USCIS evaluate the benefit of transferring Form I-824 (and related adjudicatory responsibility) to the USCIS facility that has physical possession of the underlying case file, if access to documents or information in the case file is necessary. (AR2010-17)
Recommendation 18
The Ombudsman recommends that USCIS develop a national standard operating procedure (SOP) for the processing of Form I-824 (inclusive of adjudication and transmission of the final documents or notifications requested), and institute mandatory Form I-824 adjudication and post-adjudication processing training for all USCIS adjudicators. (AR2010-18)
Recommendation 19
The Ombudsman recommends that USCIS ensure the timely and accurate delivery of notifications to the DOS National Visa Center through the use of a tracked mail delivery service. (AR2010-19)
Recommendation 20
The Ombudsman recommends that USCIS explore the development or enhancement of an electronic communication channel between USCIS and DOS capable of securely sending formal notifications on various immigration-related matters, including Form I-824. (AR2010-20)