Submitted by Ted Goode on September 11, 2000
The quarterly liaison meeting with CSC provided clarification on some issues and presented problems in others. A copy of the submitted questions and CSC answers is provided below.
1) EAD issues: The phrase to be added by DSO's to OPT requests to ensure the maximum amount of authorized employment has been shortened. The new phrase, to follow the recommended begin and end date (which must be specific), is "or later, not to exceed 14 month." The previously approved phrase may still be used but those who want to use the shortened version may do so. The Special Student Relief program work permits will continue to receive expedite treatment. Division III, the division that adjudicates EAD's, has established an e-mail address, available to school officials only, for late case inquiries. The F-1 INS program designation should be contained in the "subject" line of the e-mail. (Institutions not having F-1 programs should identify themselves in the subject line.) For the immediate future division III has asked that inquiries be made only after 120 days have elapsed from the date the case was received. After November 1 inquiries may be made after 90 days have elapsed if no card has been received. The e-mail address is: [email protected] Please use this inquiry method judiciously. Division III hopes to have the actual production and delivery of EAD cards completed within 90 days. All service centers have been required to prepare the EAD electronic production packet before being sent for adjudication. This "front-end" method will eventually save time. The mandate to Division III is to have "adjudication" completed within 75 days of receipt. Upon adjudication, the electronic production packet is sent for card production and mailing. CSC is switching its current processing from a back-end scanning to a front-end processing. It is for this reason that production in the short run may take 120 days. The student's address will be understood to be the address which appears on the I-765.
2) CPT: While NAFSA national and we here in Region XII have been advised by INS Headquarter representatives that part-time CPT does not accumulate toward the penalty producing 12 month full- time CPT, Division III believes that the regulations do not support this conclusion. Clarification is being sought from INS Headquarters. Division III ACD is also seeking guidance on this issue. A number of students have been denied OPT eligibility because the aggregate, including part time, equals or exceeds the 12 month maximum.
3) 212(e) no-objection waivers: Division III reported that a stack of some 300 no-objection DOS letters/files were recently located. They will be processed within the next 30 days. Division III will negotiate a shared work agreement with Division II when there is an H-1B case pending. If a campus receives a copy of the DOS letter but the beneficiary has not received a Notice of Action nor approval, the campus may submit an H-1B application and/or COS along with a copy of the school's DOS recommendation for waiver plus the DOS data sheet.
4) Computer failure: The CSC system computers failed between August 3 and August 21. This failure has created significant backlogs in addition to data corruption and loss. Any material that was sent to CSC between these dates for which there is no Notice of Action received after 30 days of the date it should have been received, NAFSA members may list these cases by type and individual with as much identifying information as can be provided and mail inquiries to CSC at P.O. Box 30111.
5) CSC management and staff continue to look for ways of improving service, i.e. reduce processing times. The goal is to have no process take longer than 180 days from date of receipt. Those processes mandated to be processed in less time will be given the needed priority.
6) SWIP means Service Wide Inventory Plan. This complete inventory requires a halt to all processing. Completion is expected to take up to two weeks. This required inventory will result in short-term delays in all processing. The inventory is scheduled to occur during the weeks of September 11 and September 18, 2000.
NAFSA Region XII/CSC Liaison meeting Tuesday Sept. 5, 2000 - QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
1) A COS from B2 to F1 took almost 2 years to adjudicate. Final approval came on July 27, 2000. Student has been a full time student for over two years and graduates December 2000. Will this student be eligible for OPT starting December? If no, why. If yes, what notation or documentation should be included to clarify completion of two years of study while waiting for the COS?
Per Ron Johnson, "These questions will have to be submitted to headquarters for guidance."
2) Student from School X was issued an EAD for 1 year (1997-1998) now attending our school and graduating Fall semester. She wrote a letter to Vermont Service Center 6 months into her OPT to cancel when she received our I-20 to attend school, thinking she could "save" 6 months to use after she graduates from our school. Is she eligible to do so?
Per Ron Johnson, "No." Once a card is issued, the time is counted toward that student.
3) An EAD has been requested, approved and produced but never delivered to the student. It also was never returned to CSC as "undeliverable". What is the procedure to request a replacement? Is this a circumstance that would justify "expedite" treatment? Under what circumstances can a person request a duplicate card without having to apply anew? Is there a way of getting an "interim" card while this "replacement" procedure is underway? If yes, has this been cleared with the INS District Offices?
Per Ron Johnson, "Submit an I-765, with fee, for replacement EAD. If expedites are requested, the cases will be determined on a case by case basis. There is no way to request a duplicate card. Questions regarding interim cards must be posed to the local office. Processes for getting interim cards are issues for the regional and local offices to address."
4) EAD errors. One student applied for six months but got a year. One student applied for one year and was authorized six months. Is the fax inquiry system the best way to start to resolve this situation? Following fax inquiry, what should the student and DSO be prepared to do? Return the original EAD? File any additional documents?
Per Ron Johnson, "Yes, but CSC has made a new email address available to NAFSA for inquiries on student employment. The email address is [email protected] Depending on the case, we may need another I-765 with photos and signature card to generate a new card. The original EAD will have be to returned."
5) "Regulations prohibit EAD cards being mailed to anyone other than the student's personal address. Cards cannot be mailed to the school address." (8 CFR103.2(b)(19). This statement was included in the recent announcement made by CSC. This section of the regulations directs mailing instructions for the alien registration card. It is not instructions pertaining to EAD cards. Until recently, CSC has followed a practice to mail the card to the address on the I-765. It is also accepted practice at other Service Centers. Why has this policy changed? What regulation states that the EAD can not be sent to the student through the DSO office?
Per Ron Johnson, "The CSC has not changed its policy on this issue. We will mail EADs to the applicant's mailing address. As noted, 8CFR 103.2 (b) (19) governs this issue. This regulation states 'Documents produced after an approval notice is sent, such as an alien registration card, shall be mailed directly to the applicant or petitioner.' The reference to the alien registration card (ARC) is merely an example of a post-approval document. The EAD, like the ARD, is one of many types of post-approval documents produced by this Service."
6) If the NOTICE OF ACTION receipt notice has been lost, can a duplicate be issued by CSC? What needs to be submitted to get this desired action?
No. The Service does not issue duplicate receipt notices. However, the WAC number is printed on the cancelled checks or money orders.
7) Following AOS submission, approximately when should the applicant receive the fingerprint appointment letter?. If a fingerprint appointment letter has not been received, should the applicant send a fax? Fax no.? Write a letter? Address? Refer to I-485 WAC no.?
Per Steve Brickett, "SSL schedules AOS applicants for fingerprints each week. They will schedule out for 90 days. It takes approximately 10 days from scheduling to get the notice in the mail. If a notice is not received within a 2-month period (this time frame is also given to AILA) from date of receipt of the I-485 receipt notice, a fax inquiry may be made to the following: Attn: CPAU Fingerprint Team (Fax: 949/389-3493). Fingerprint notices are mailed to the applicant only."
8) An I-140 receipt notice with a notice date of 8/20/00 has a processing time of 350-380 days. We know that it is INS' goal to process employment based I-140s in 90 days. Approximately when might we be able to expect adjudication of the above receipted case? When is the goal of 90 days likely to be realized?
Per Mary Agnelly, "Our goal is to be within 90 days by the end of September."
9) Please review the exact language to be added to the OPT recommendation to ensure that the applicant will receive the maximum one year period but not to exceed the 14th month from the date of completion.
The notice of 8-2-00 stated the following: "From: date To: date* *If adjudication date is later, please adjust the dates to indicate adjudicate date as the start date and 12 months later as the ending date not to exceed 14 months."
Although this is legally correct, we at CSC thought it was much too wordy. Effective today, 9-5-00, applicants can simply write the following:
"From date To date* *Or later, not to exceed 14 months."
10) The fax inquiry system is quite frustrating. If you follow the whole process as required, it takes about a month: 10 working days + 5 working + 3 working days, then call the duty officer. You can spend a month going through the process and not see any results. This breaks down the credibility and confidence in this system, and eventually people just try any means to get a response - calling the Director's office directly, e-mailing, faxing everyday. (And pretty soon anarchy develops!) The CSC had good intentions in setting up this system, but, from the point of view of a user, they need to know that it isn't working. To have a customer service system that does not work does irreparable damage to the public relations cause and intent "putting the 'S' back into Service."
I agree. This system has further been frustrated in recent months when two divisions shared one fax machine from March through August. This has finally been resolved and, hopefully, faxes will begin to get to those people intended to receive them. With the Division II e-mailbox and now the creation of the Division III e-mailbox, we are hoping that it will not be necessary to go any further than the first fax number. Example: If there is a problem, send a fax to the PC fax line @ 949/389-3197. Wait 10 days. If there is no response or you disagree with the response, send an e-mail message to Division II or Division III's e-mailbox. If you receive no response from the e-mailbox or you disagree with the response, you are still free to send a fax to the ACD, Director, etc. For questions in Divisions I or IV, you may want to go directly to the ACD fax if you receive no response from the PC fax line. You can send inquiries to Division II's CSC.Schools emailbox, but all the student officer will be able to do is forward the inquiry to the ACDs at Division I and IV .
11) AILA was informed recently that CSC experienced data corruption problems from approximately 8/3 - 8/21 and lost information. They recommended that if no receipts were received within one month from the date of applications filed within that period, that attorneys should notify CSC by sending a list of cases to P.O. Box 30111. Is CSC prepared to give the same advice/instructions to schools?
Per Dona Coultice, "We will offer the same consideration to NAFSA that we offered to AILA."
12) It is our understanding that a new version of the CSC guidelines will soon be available. An electronic version is to be provided AILA. Can the same service be provided to NAFSA? We do understand that much of the document may be put on the CSC web site. It would be helpful to see the entire version and compare the data on the web site before directing our members to the various sources. Is this possible?
Yes. If you want a copy of this, send an email requesting a copy of the CSC Guidelines to [email protected] As soon as we receive the electronic copy, we will forward a copy on to you.
13) We have included photos for pictures for I-485s, I-131s and I-765s to the application itself in individual small envelopes labeled photos. Is this helpful to CSC officers or do they prefer that we not do this?
Per Steve Brickett, "We have no objection to sending photos in labeled envelopes."
14) The Dept of Labor has been inconsistent in returning all materials with an approved Labor Cert. to the employer. In particular--in one case--the DOL did not return the photocopy of the Ph.D. diploma. The I-140 was then submitted to the CSC with the approved Labor Cert and no Ph.D. diploma. The CSC subsequently issued a RFE asking for evidence of receipt of an advanced degree. Since the DOL has already reviewed and approved the Labor Cert, is there a reason why the CSC needs to "second guess" the DOL? Should a photocopy of the advanced degree always be included with the I-140 & Labor Cert? Any other documentation needed as well?
Per Mary Agnelly, "8 CFR 204 requires that all educational documents, evidence of the required experience and evidence of ability to pay be submitted with all I-140s. INA 204(b) requires the agency to investigate all the facts in the case including facts stated in the labor certification. Documentation listed above plus any evidence relating to special requirements."
15) What does SWIP mean?
Service Wide Inventory Plan.