Customer (Dis)Service at USCIS

Yesterday on my way back from the Memphis immigration court, I received an email from an Egyptian friend of ours.  She and her brother have been trying to figure out why USCIS has taken over 6 months to send her brother’s new green card to him.

For overseas green card cases, USCIS and the State Department added a fee in the last 2 years that must be paid after the visa interview.  Without payment of that fee, no green card is ever sent.
The program is called ELIS, which is another government acronym.  ELIS stands for Electronic Immigration Service.  Since the program was put into place, we have received numerous complaints about the system failing to work properly.
People have experienced long delays in receiving their green cards and there have been numerous news reports about these problems.
In this case, the green card fee was paid almost immediately after the visa interview.  Our Egyptian friend has made several attempts at calling the USCIS 1-800 number, but to no avail.  They have been unwilling and/or unable to help her.
USCIS typically offers two main ways to communicate with the agency about problems with an immigration case.  One is to call the 1-800 number.  It is often very difficult to get any real information about a case.
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The second is to make what is called an InfoPass appointment.  You cannot simply show up at the USCIS office unannounced.  Rather, you have to log on to the USCIS website and register for an InfoPass appointment.
But the website is terribly cumbersome and difficult to navigate.  USCIS has all of these weird categories of the types of InfoPass appointments that you might want to schedule.  However, if you simply want help with a pending case, the site acts as if no appointments are available.
This has been true for years.  So when we want to make an InfoPass appointment, we simply check some random box to secure the time slot.  When we appear for the appointment, no one at USCIS seems to care which box we checked.
Our Egyptian friend asked in an email if she could go ahead and do this.  She figured her own work around.
But it should not be like this.  We should all be able to get accurate case information from USCIS.  Green cards should not take 6 extra months to arrive.  This agency charges exorbitant visa and green card fees and these fees are supposed to keep USCIS in the black.
Maybe they just don’t care?  Wait … the federal government not caring?  Now we might be on to something.
Jim Hacking

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