Well, like many I’ve went through the immigration process until acquiring my US citizenship in 2009.

Many times I’ve found myself questioning how immigration really works, why takes so long…. Recently I’ve passed through a forum where a former employee gave some good answers… While it does not answer specifically why a certain case is taking so much, I guess this gives a lot of understanding that it is indeed a process and procedures are in place to ensure quality.

The original post can be seen at http://www.visajourney.com/content/adjudicator-q-and-a but I’ve copied here just in case it goes down…

My word of wisdom…do what is right and wait. The process does work.

=== NOTE – This article is a cut/paste from the website above
=== although interesting, I do not endorse or condone anything written
===========================================

Question and Answer Session with a former USCIS Adjudicator
The following is a Q and A discussion between VisaJourney members and a former USCIS Adjudicator.

Excerpt from this thread at Visa Journey, Started February 21st 2007.  Questions have been edited for space constraint.

HUSKERKIEV

‘Feb 21 2007, 06:08 PM’

Hello everyone,

This is my first post so don’t flame me for protocol or if I say something out of place.

I joined VJ because of two reasons. First, I just sent off my initial I-129F packet to NSC for processing and 2) I used to be an Applications Adjudicator (Immigration Officer) at the NSC (2003) so I thought perhaps I could help out someone with any questions they have on how the NSC operates. Or at least the part that I worked in. Some of the processes are the same regardless of departments. I’d be happy to give you as much info as I can as there aren’t any real secrets and since I don’t work there any longer I can speak about it.

As for my K-1 journey, to make a long story short, I travelled last summer to Kiev and met a wonderful woman (and her daughter) quite by accident. We spent a lot of time together during my trip, fell in love and the rest as they say is “history”.

We finally got around to compiling all the docs and as I said, I sent them off to NSC yesterday so I guess I fall into the February Filers category. I hope to have her and her daughter here by August (hopefully)!

So, I make myself available to anyone who has questions about the Nebraska Service Center and its quirks or the BCIS as it were in general.

Finally, to answer a question that some of you might be thinking – “no, I can’t do anything to help you specifically with your petition. Just like I have to wait in line with everyone else on mine also. Yes, i still have friends who work there, but its against the rules to do favors and can get a person fired. And I would never put my friends in that position.” But I’d be happy to answer other non-specific questions as I can. I don’t know everything but I will try to help where I can.

Thanks.

Q    Welcome to VJ!!!  I hope you don’t get offended about some of the remarks you may read about uscis

No problem. I’m thick skinned. One thing I might add is that from an employee standpoint, the NSC can be a very frustrating place to work also. I will say that as a current DHS employee (different agency) that there are good people who work in government and people who really give a hoot about the work they do. I’d like to think I was one and also a very good friend of mine (who got so frustrated he left NSC also). Magnify that across the range of DHS/BCIS, and you have some very dedicated people trying to do good.

Then again, you also have a small minority who do the least amount of work they can get by with everyday just like in any organization. They usually don’t last long but they are there.

But by in large, it’s a monumental task to process the volume of stuff that would come through on a daily basis.

I remember seeing all the boxes of case files and they never stopped coming. As soon as one box of files was completed there were several others to take its place. People used to refer to it as “job security”, which it was, but until you are inside system and see the volume they handle daily, it’s really hard to fathom. I know I was impressed.

I wish I could remember some of the stats they told us in training of how much they processed but the numbers escape me now.

I don’t mean to sound like a cheerleader for the NSC, but just to let VJ’ers know that there are good people working there who try hard everyday to do a good job for the petitioners. But sometimes “the system” can play havoc with otherwise good intentions.

D.

Q    Part of the frustration you might hear about is that what happens at USCIS is completely invisible. From our perspective, petitions go into a black hole and come out at an indeterminate time.

Perhaps you could provide an overview of the types of processing that happens and where delays are introduced into the system. Also, I’m sure that people would be interested in understanding the common mistakes to avoid when filing a petition. I understand that part of the purpose for the petition process is to prevent immigration fraud so I’m not asking you to divulge any of those red flags.

Two specific questions I have are:

  • What are the key metrics the service centers are measured on?Why is Vermont so much faster than the other centers (especially California)?

Pardon the typos’ in advance

That’s a tough question and things might have changed since I was there almost 4 years ago now. But Nebraska was lagging behind at that point also. Management really was pushing a numbers game as far as adjudicators cranking out as many as they can.  I also see that the NSC has a new Director (who used to be the Omaha District Manager). He’s a good man.

An Adjudicators job performance is based on several factors. 1) how many files (petitions) you process everyday 2) number of applications “kicked back” because you made a mistake and they shouldn’t have been approved and 3) attention to details and how many errors you make. Management gets a report on each Adjudicator (we all have a individual ID #) showing the total # of petitions processed, number kicked back and how many errors we made. They can call this up anytime and we were required to keep a daily tally of the work we did. When performance appraisal time came around, you would discuss your individual performance with your supervisor.

That’s one of the reasons why you might see that your application was “touched” several times on a given day but no change in status. The adjudicator began working it (touch), went to lunch (touch), came back from lunch (touch) and finished reviewing it and sent it off to be processed (touch). Its touched when it goes back into the queue and etc…

Keep in mind every time a file changes hands whether its signed out to an Adjudicator or some staff person, its gets “wanded” into the system so they can track who specifically has the file. Each file has a scannable bar code. Sometimes you’d be working a file that has someone else working another component of the file or one of the family members. We would always try to keep family members together and approve them at the same time.

Getting back to the way it works,

If at any time you weren’t processing enough petitions you would usually be talked to by your supervisor. Generally, this was only if there appeared to be a “trend” in your productivity. Everyone has days when they could process a lot vs. other “slower” days. A lot depends on the complexity of the petition you were working and some other “bean counting” tricks you could use to keep your #’s up. Everyone is trained on certain petitions first and progresses to the more complicated ones. This way they have the more experienced Adjudicators working the more difficult petitions like the 485’s etc

Q    I can’t imagine how many applications for various things must come in everyday. It’s incredible they get it all done Do “touches” really mean an NOA2 or RFE is coming soon do you know

RE: RFE’s and touches, see my last post about scanning in files to work them. D.

Q    What kind of hours do the service centers run? With so many applications I can imagine working a long 9am to 6pm day….

Bear in mind this was 4 years ago… It might have changed.  At that time they offered a couple different options. First, if your performance was good and you were experienced enough you could apply to “work from home” or “telecommute”, this was of course the favorite. This was largely brought about by a shortage of space in the building. The NSC has since moved to a brand new facility that alleviated the space crisis we faced at that time. (But I’m sure that if they eliminated the work from home program the union might have had something to say about it so it’s a fair bet Adjudicators still have this nice option.)

Secondly there was a liberal “flex-time” schedule. Again one of the reasons was the space shortage but that wasn’t it entirely. The agency was very family friendly to its employees and tried to keep people happy and make for a nice place to work. There was a lot of stress involved. Offering a flex schedule was one available option to folks.

Basically, as a CIS employee, you could work anytime from 0630 till 6PM as long as your schedule was approved by your boss and you got your 8 hours in.

Because of the amount of work, the agency also used contract services for a lot of the other various non-adjudicating type work. If I recall, the center was a 24/7 operation except for the CIS employees. A lot of the staging and processing of the work we accomplished during the day was done by the contractor at night.

I also think card production had CIS employees on the night shift back then. Hope that answers your question. Cheers.D.

Q    How long did u work there? if u don’t mind me asking? just curious

All told, ’bout a year. Then I got a better offer from another agency. It was enlightening.

Q    Funny thing I forgot to mention, today I got an email from a very good friend’s friend who used to work in the Fraud Prevention Unit at several foreign posts and that is where our case is now…….and here you are ….. I was hoping to get some help like that on VJ ! Maybe there are more lurking ?

Marriage fraud is a big issue and it seemed like it was getting bigger. At the Service Center we seldom saw the beneficiaries because this was more of a District office function. We did have a small public waiting area for people dropping off things etc…

I did hear a lot of the marriage fraud horror stories from heartbroken petitioners though (via our trainers and other district office staff) during the course of my stay. It was truly sad some of the things that happened to some good sincere people. Unfortunately, by the time they called us there was little we could do at that point given the circumstances.

I also hope there are some more folks like me out there. If you’d have asked me back in ’03 if I’d be submitting my own I-129 petition, I think I wouldn’t know what to say. Funny how life takes its different twists and turns…

Q    What types of things are “red flags” in someone’s file?

Why types of things would someone be put on “additional review” for during the petition review process?

Does country of birth and residence for the beneficiary (and country of birth for the petitioner) play into this?

Well let’s see how much I remember…

Maybe it might be easier if I just described what I would do to approve a petition – my process.

First, I would select a case file/folder. All petitions/files are kept in folders that a have a scanable bar code identifier. This folder has everything that a person submits on the left side of the folder and all the agency generated documents on the right side. They should be in date order, Petition and then most recent from top to bottom.  The left side has the pictures on top.

You begin by looking at the petition for correctness by checking the information via several databases depending upon what type of petition you are adjudicating. Also if the form was complete and everything was in order.  Discrepancies in peoples names from what the database had vs. what the petition said, birth dates, things like that all had to be resolved and could generate a RFE if the adjudicator couldn’t figure it out with the tools he had.

There were some standard criminal and background type databases that were required for all petitions. A “hit” in any of these databases would flag the petition and it would be sent to a special group who worked to resolve why the “hit” occurred. Sometimes it could be something simple as a similar name of a bad guy, but every hit had to be resolved.

I remember that certain surnames would invariably cause a hit, but they could be resolved rather quickly by comparing the applicant’s background information with those of the “hit” name. There were various ways to do this of course, and it took time. That’s why some applications take longer to process because there are stumbling blocks along the way that must be worked through before approval. Consequently, all the other petitions that the officer was working get set to the side. or, the adjudicator/officer might set the difficult one to the side and work on less complicated ones. Remember it was a production environment where you had to be accurate but fast. Getting a petition kicked back for mistakes to be re-worked hurt your overall stats, so, you tried to be a thorough as you could, but also as quick as you could.

After clearing a applicant through the various mandatory database searches, then you could begin to review the various information on the petition. Sometimes there would be stupid mistakes like forgetting to sign it, or using a copy when an original signature was required etc… Kinda careless mistakes or from not really understanding the instructions type of thing. Anyway, these would generate an RFE, and the file’s staus would be update in the computer as awaiting response to RFE or something like that, I don’t recall the exact terminology.

Anyway, instead of sending the newly RFE’d file back to the large file storage area, it would be kept at the officers desk in a holding cue. Then when an RFE reply would come in, I would pull it (the file) off the shelf and rework it. I tried to clear all my answered RFE’s out first thing every morning because it was “old” work as compared to the dates I was working at the time. If the RFE had the required information, it would continue to be processed and/or approved and sent on its way. If the RFE did not address the item, then another RFE would be generated and back on the shelf it would go.

A word about RFE’s. It was my experience that no two officers would always see eye to eye on if an RFE was required. Some officers could or would spend some more time digging around the file or a database to find the information  (if they thought it could be found) and others would just as soon rip off an RFE. So it varied. Then there were some times that an RFE was required because of the situation. Again, it depends a lot on who was looking at your case and what the question was / what information was needed. No hard and fast rule.

Also, each adjudicator/officer had a master list of RFE “phrases that they could pull off their computer and plug into a standard RFE form depending upon the situation. Each of these “phrases” could be further “wordsmithed” to suit a particular situation. Again depends on the officer.  That’s why you may see some RFE’s that are similar but not exact. We would borrow each others RFE phrases to add to our list as we came across one that fit a particular situation.

It would be like “Hey, cube mate. I’ve got this situation, do you have anything in your RFE library that might fit?”  answer “Sure, try this one. I’ll email it to you”. And that’s how that worked.

You asked about country of birth etc.. Yes and no. There were “watch lists” of certain countries that meant that certain procedures had to be followed when processing petitions from these countries, but it was just a couple more things to check/verify along the approval process. It didn’t slow things down dramatically. So, I wouldn’t worry about that being a big factor.

Additional review. Mainly if you came up as a “hit” for a surname of a bad guy (or gal) that would have to be resolved. Marriage Fraud. Overstaying your visit. Lying. Criminal activity/organized crime, police reports, things that would be outside of a “normal” person’s life you might say.

So back to the approval process. So if no RFE was needed then i would “approve’ the petition, affix my stamp with my identifier # , sign and date it. I would then scan the file, update the status and send it on its way to the next stop wherever that was. Actually, all the approved petitions/files were placed in a separate box and those were collected as you went along and taken for final disposition/processing.

Then you start all over again with the next case… 🙂

Q   How long does a “typical” non-RFE case require to adjudicate?

Before I answer your question, I need to say this because I haven’t said it already and I wouldn’t want to mislead people. I worked other petitions besides the I-129’s or (hunny-bunnies as they were affectionately referred to). But the process is the same, same databases, same checks etc… Everything in the system works the same as far as the processes and the flow of work. If you walked through the NSC it’s a maze of cubes and everyone has the same type stuff in their cubes, the same file folders etc…. It’s just what’s inside the folders that’s different.

But everything is scanned and routed around the various Service Centers the same. So, Nebraska does it the same way Vermont does or California or wherever. I can’t speak to the District Offices or the Consulates. They may have their own way of doing things, but as an organization/agency there were standard operating procedures for handling and processing cases. We all use basically the same “system” and “tools”.

That having been said… I could crank out an “approval” in about 15 minutes depending upon the complexity of the petition. I recall that we’d love to see those large family petitions with the little kids. Why? Because once you clear the mom and dad, the kids went really fast and you could get several “credits” very quickly that way instead of having to do the equal number of “individual” petitions for the same amount of “credits”. But you have to be fast and thorough, because its your job to be fast and thorough you might say…

Q   I knew this 90 day wait was really important!

The adjudication process can be fairly quick. Looking back, what I see now as an applicant and not a worker is the sheer volume of people who are in line ahead of me! I remember working the phones and people would call and ask what dates we were processing, we would tell them and they couldn’t believe it! Well, its sad but true that I think the sheer volume of work has backlogged and slowed down the process to the point where it has been for sometime now.

I mean it’s really a numbers game. You have a finite number of adjudicators and X number of backlogged files, with more new files added to the system everyday. The finite number of adjudicators can only process so many cases per day, thus its like a drain that back up but the water is never shut off. Eventually it will overflow. The good news is that I see that the BCIS is in a hiring mode for adjudicators and immigration officers! That’s where the delays come in IMO.

Q    Since Texas and Nebraska are no longer servicing I-129F’s, it all seems to be going to California, with CSC now handling 3/4 of the work load and taking 2.5 months minimum.  Yet, Vermont has them cranked out in a few days sometimes.  Why did TSC and NSC quit processing those apps, and why on Earth did they shovel all the work disproportionately to CSC?

Not a problem, I’m happy to share what I know.

As for your question – I don’t have an answer for that. I would imagine some pinhead in Washington did that.

Then again you could always file a Congressional because those get pulled and worked right away. But you didn’t hear that from me

(usually)…

Q   Understanding how it works is awesome.  Knowing that we are waiting 90 days for a fifteen minute (in some cases) approval is still very frustrating.  At least those guys have job security.

As I said, IMO it’s a manpower and work/backlog issue not necessarily because the petitions are complex. Just not enough people. Some (petitions) like the 485’s are more involved which would take longer than 15 minutes, but the 129F is a simple petition again IMO.

Q   HUSKERKIEV – “Then again you could always file a Congressional” – Could you explain what that means? Inquiry?

Glad to help. Anyway, a “Congressional Inquiry” or “congressional” is a formal inquiry by a member of Congress made on behalf of their constituent. Any federal agency that receives a Congressional inquiry has 48 hours to respond to the member of Congress. Each Service Center has a special office to handle “Congressionals”. That’s their sole purpose in life is to keep the member of Congress informed upon request.

(i.e. Senator Numbnuts says “CIS – I understand from my constituent – Mr. Hotn’bothered that (according to him) you have been processing his application for his dear fiancé in a less than timely manner. Can you please look into this matter and let my office know when it will be approved.”)

System usually says – “pull and work file immediately” ‘Nuff said.

Q    I filed my now-husband’s I129F about 2 years ago through Vermont.  We are currently in the AOS phase and stuck due to FBI name check.  Up until this point we were ‘poster children’ for the way K1 immigration SHOULD work – 106 days from filing to visa approval. 

Are you at liberty to say exactly what databases you checked?  Did you check the same databases for every type of petition or did that vary?

Databases. Well, they all had acronym names is what I remember and that’s about all I remember except each one had a purpose. One was for criminal activity, FBI/fingerprints, one could show immigration info, Interpol, national criminal database, various ones used by law enforcement, Dept of State, and some other ones.

Yes, there were standard ones we used on a routine basis in clearing an applicant. These were routine from petition to petition (i.e. didn’t matter if it was a I-131 or I-129 or 485, 767 etc… all required checking).

I wish I could remember but I did a brain dump when I left so I could learn an entire new set of new acronyms at my new position 🙂

Sorry to hear about your slowdown.

HUSKERKIEV
Feb 21 2007, 10:52 PM 

Thanks everyone, and if there are no further questions, I’m gonna hit the rack.

Feel free to PM me or start a tread I will do what I can to shed some light on the situation.

If you have a specific question, I have a friend/coworker (we started at the same time with BCIS) who recently left the organization and would maybe give some more current information if I asked.  Not about cases, but general info.

Again, thanks and it’s been a pleasure. Sorry for all the typos, I’m really not that illiterate 🙂

Q    I always wondered about how many petitions each adjudicator has at once? Does each person lug a boxful to their desks, take an armful of 10 or 20, or what? Because most people with NOA1 from certain dates get approved, while a few are left hanging sooo long. I always imagined a stack of files on a slow pokes desk…

Thanks. There are storage shelves in each section of the building that house the boxes full of applicant’s files. These shelves are continuously replenished as boxes are removed by the officers to be worked or turned in to be further processed after being approved. This resupply as it were is handled by the CIS contract employees.

So as a Adjudicator/officer I would go and get a box of case files every morning, scan/wand each file into the system under my user ID # (so people could track who had it) and then begin to adjudicate the cases. A box might hold 50 case or so.

They also had a rack for “expedites” which were cases whose petitioners had selected/paid for “premium processing”. You were selected on a rotating basis to do “expedites”. But the process was the same for these they just were staged differently in the overall que of things, so to speak. Moved further ahead in line or something. Congressionals were pulled by the congressional office and routed to the appropriate supervisor for dissemination to his employee’s to work with a short turn around time.

So, your number of files vary at any given time during the day. Officers who did the work form home I spoke about earlier would come in to the office maybe once or twice a week, scan in all their new files (to their ID), then scan in all the approved files they were returning back into the system (from their ID) and take the multiple boxes back home with them to work. Enough to last a few days or so.

The reason for some hanging so long could be several. One could be an RFE and while the officer is waiting for the response he is working more current dates. In other words more and more applications are getting in front of the RFE’d application. Another reason could be that the boxes that are staged on the shelves are chosen at random by the officers. For some reason a box of files might sit longer on the shelf than another. Usually not more than a day at the most though.  Or the officer could be hording a box at his desk  (for some strange reason) and then goes on vacation and doesn’t scan them out of his name and back into (return) them to the system so they can be picked up by someone else to work. So it sits for awhile.

Usually unless a file gets misplaced, applications are always kept in date groupings and date order. If you look in a box of files, they will all have been initially entered into the system either on the same day or within a day. That way they can work from oldest to newest in a organized fashion. They are kept that way so it will be fair to everyone waiting in line for approval.

On the rare occurrence a file will be mistakenly sent to district office or other Service Center, the error will be caught when a file search is done and it shows the location of the file (there is a system code showing its physical location). The file is recalled to its proper center or office. Very rare though.

Q   You mentioned files getting misplaced.  Does this happen often, and if so, why? 

I was surprised to read that a congressional inquiry gets your case some ‘attention’.  I thought a congressman/woman calling at this stage was really no use to you.  Is there a general rule of thumb as to when the congressperson should be involved? 

I mean – if someone involved their congress person after, say, two weeks of filing the petition, it would seem to me that would be an outrageous request (to expect special ‘attention’ that early on).   But three months on doesn’t seem like an outrageous request – unless USCIS has some sort of criteria on when its acceptable to have a congressional inquiry.

Short answer this morning. Basically, because congressional are such a pain for the CIS folks to respond to and a very serious matter, I would not take them lightly, and give them the serious consideration they deserve. Sounds like you appreciate this fact.

So, I would never encourage a person to just file a “congressional” to jump the line” or move ahead of everyone else. That’s not the purpose. I only recommend you use this last resort when the system has broken down for some reason in your case or there are extraordinary circumstances that require an immediate intervention by your representative (i.e. deportation hearing etc…).

I would say if your application has not been worked with its normal date group within a reasonable amount of time taking into account the additional time a security hit might take to resolve, then it might be appropriate. But, I would err on the side of patience and use it only as a last resort. I say this to be fare to all the other people waiting patiently in line with you.

Hope that helps.

Regarding files being misplaced. very seldom. Every time a file changes hands even from one officer in one cube to another in another cube , its wanded or scanned into the system so its always trackable as to who has it. The only thing that can sometimes happen is a file gets miss-sent to the wrong place (i.e. the Vermont Center instead of say a district Office) but the system will always know where it is, it just will take a few days to get it back to where its supposed to be because it has to be mailed back to its original destination etc..

So files don’t get “lost” every file’s location is know. Losing a file is grounds for dismissal because of the violation of the privacy act and security. Your file has too much information in it and each one is not taken lightly. We treat each file as if its a persons life so to speak because it represents someone or a couple or family etc…

Q    I hope you can really help me with my K1 visa problem.

my problem is regarding my daughter who is not listed the petition. My fiancé hired a visa attorney to do the paperwork for him. The petition was approved by the USCIS only to find out that my daughter was not listed in the petition. as my interview schedule is coming, I don’t know how I will go about it if they question me about having a daughter when it says no children in the section where it is being asked in the form.

my daughter is 17 years old and will be pursuing her studies in the Philippines. Although we all have come up of not having her join with us there in the US, we still want her to derive a K2 visa from me. My fiancé and I want her to have timely visits to us in the states once i get my visa approved. Is it be possible for her to have K2 visa?

If that can’t be possible, we may opt to get a multiple entry visa for her will the law permit it?

So any of the 2 options will be okay for me and my USC fiancé.

Hi, I would say that on the surface that this is not good and needs immediate attention since you are getting ready for your interview. When this subject is brought up, it should raise immediate red flags with a consular officer. The reason being is why the child was left off the application.

I think if I recall the petition specifies if you have children and then asks who will be accompanying you to the US either now or later. So, the officer will probably suspect marriage fraud/marriage just to get in the US and it will be your job/your attorney’s job to convince them that this is not the case and that it was just a misunderstanding. Otherwise, why would a person leave their own child off of an application? That’s what will be thought because you signed the document as being “true and accurate”.

I would have your husband immediately call his attorney who filed the original application, chew his butt for not getting it right and potentially jeopardizing your visa approval. I hate to suggest threatening anyone, but your husband needs to strongly convey that if the attorney will not correct HIS (the attorney’s ) mistake then further action will be taken against him (the atty) should his (the atty) mistake cost you your visa! That is a last resort obviously as at this point you just need your atty on your side to get you out of this jam he has created.

Take action today you don’t have a lot of time to waste. Sorry to give you bad news. D.

Q   (**Note:  Poster had been waiting for 5 months for her NOA2 when this message was posted**)

I guess my only other question would be what you mean by ‘normal date group’ – to me, I see cases on Visa Journey that have a NOA1 date around or after mine which have already been approved, yet here we sit. 

Are those folks considered my ‘normal date group’, or what other barometer should I use to determine that? 

And I don’t want involve my congressman if it would be out of order for me to do so.

I would say that its waaayyy to soon for you to file a congressional. You just have a lot of people in front of you is all. Give it some more time like maybe 30 days.

Q    It’s interesting to hear about the congressional pull because my now mother in law went to her congressman’s office and asked for them to enquire about my case and if you look at my time line, it went really fast after my NOA2

Is that why?

It’s a fair bet that it was, but then again you already were approved (NOA2). So, it could or could not have had an impact. If nothing else, it brought your file to the top of the pile for whatever outcome. 🙂

Q DOES SIZE MATTER? (Proof of relationship)

We sent in our K1 petition to CSC -received Feb. 16 and I am now regretting how big the package was (rarely said!).  It weighed 3 pounds!! Was 150 pages numbered. Scott and I have been together for 2 years and have had 15 trips back and forth to see each other so I documented each trip. 104 pages of documentation to be exact. I listed each trip by date and who went where and a short summary of the highlights as a Table of Contents and gave each trip an attachment letter -A-P.  Each Trip separated by a thicker stock of paper with the pictures(1-4 pics) stapled to it in a plastic baggie and the same summary on the divider (with a tab at the bottom with the coordinating letter). Between each divider there is the flight itinerary,  at least 2 emails from before the trip and after the trip to him, from him or correspondence between myself and his family or he and my kids (to show a relationship between all family members), phone bills from both of us placed sporadically between trips, a picture of the “ring” and receipt in the month it was given, proof of trips taken together, the list goes on.   All this on top of the 28 or so pages of forms, g325s, passport pics and birth certificates.  Oh-and the 22 page divorce decree from his previous marriage.

I was so chuffed that I had all this proof, this 2 year relationship that culminated itself into a very detailed 150 page, 3lb package. And now…I’m thinking…..would 40 pages have been better. Will it take them 90 years just to read through everything (all important info is highlighted-names, dates, to, from etc for easy reading). Or does the Angel on my other shoulder have it right when she yells at the troublesome Devil on the left “Hey! This is going to be a breeze-who could deny such a thoughtful, well put together and very complete package!

Just a quick note. This is my thoughts as if I were to receive your package as an adjudicator and not based on anything else.

So, as I would heft this door stop of a packet onto my desk I would first think to myself that while it may be a tad much, this person has their stuff in one sock so to speak (translated – you have your act together, maybe a bit over the top- but together none-the-less). I would always have too much information to look through than not enough and have to send out an RFE. It just may happen that a piece of supplemental information is found on those extra documents. One never knows…

As an adjudicator, I know what exactly I’m looking for, what’s relevant and what’s not needed to be looked at right at the moment. I’d check the things I needed to check and basically ignore the rest, (unless I needed to find a specific piece of info that I thought might be included within your packet). Otherwise, it all stays in the file, but unless its something I’d deal with to make a determination on your case I wouldn’t bother (unless it was a real slow day and I wanted some entertainment or something to talk about at lunch with the co-workers. “Hey Mary, you should’ve seen the packet I got today…” Just kidding. We usually never talked shop and because we’re always busy, time to browse doesn’t usually happen.

So to answer your question more directly – I don’t think it’s gonna hurt your case any if that’s what you’re worried about.

Q    I do have a quick question: I was ill advised by a mutual acquaintance claiming to know the K1 process very well, to file an I824 – APPLICATION FOR ACTION ON AN APPROVED APPLICATION OR PETITION with my I129F for the K1 visa, with the notation to Cable Notify the consulate.  Well that never happened.  Of course my $200 was graciously accepted. 

Now what?  I’m curious to ask for my money back. Nothing was ever done on the I824.  Currently the online status of the I824 is the same showing the Sep 29th day received, but the update date has changed a few times, once on Jan 31, then on Feb 20 – the day the visa was approved at the interview, and again on Feb 21.

Q    I was misadvised to do the same by a CIS Customer Service representative, only my I824 involved resending my approved petition to the NVC, when in fact all I needed was a letter to my congressman to get everything back on track. It was amazing how quickly the $200 check was cashed and also how quickly I got action from the CIS after contacting my congressmen.

A bit of background info regarding the money/check cashing issue.

All petitions come into a centralized mail room at the NSC. Any monies attached to the petitions is immediately separated and locked away into the vault or repository where they keep the funds until a Brinks truck arrives at some point during the day. The mail room is a “secure” area and not accessible unless you work there (badge in and out etc..).

So, in case you are wondering, the adjudicator (or other staff) never handles any money. Once the application arrives in the mail room and the funds are removed, it goes to a central receiving/processing area where it is keyed/entered into the CIS system by contractor staff, placed into an A-File, assigned an A-number and corresponding bar code and placed on the shelf in the centralized storage area to await further processing. That’s why similar dates stay together because they are in-processed at the same time. Boxes of applications are withdrawn from storage on a first in first out basis, always working from oldest to newest.

The reason why it seems the checks are cashed before the petition is touched is because CIS deposits the checks and monies before a application is ever ready to be worked.

I hope that helps to explain that.

Q   I think Husker may have finally helped us end this loooooong VJ debate about including proof of an ongoing relationship with the I 129f petition.  If I’m understanding correctly, it seems as if its not needed by the adjudicator to do his or her job.

Did I misstate that, Husker, or would you agree?

Yes, either you misunderstood my comments or I did a poor job explaining it.

If you want to refer to it as a checklist of things that must accompany a petition then call it that, but really it’s a good working knowledge of the regulatory guidance as spelled out in  8 CFR which is our bible as Immigration Officers. Some have a written checklist at their desks and some have it committed to memory. But we all know what “has” to be in the application packet at a minimum, for any petition. If a question arose we would consult the CFR.

So as to not confuse anyone, you must always provide what the petition is calling for or run the risk of not being approved or RFE’d. I would not approve a petition of any kind unless it had at least the minimum items required by the law. That’s just following the law I was working under. I think I would speak for other officers as well. If it doesn’t meet the criteria set forth under the CFR, it’s a no-go.

Proof of relationship is a requirement and therefore you must provide the necessary information to prove that. Don’t leave it out!

What I was referring to was that I knew what required items I HAD to look at or HAD to be included in the packet to receive an approval stamp. Outside of the mandatory things the rest is considered supporting information. And while it may not be applicable to me and my small part of the approval process, it could be VERY relevant or even a required piece of information to the consular officer down the road at the Embassy or to someone else.

It’s usually all relevant information to someone, but I would not focus on it because it was not relevant to my small part of the overall approval process. That’s what I meant to say… Does that help?

Q   One of the other questions we’ve had around here is whether the adjudicators knew about, or checked into, Visa Journey at all….. any comments there, Husker?

Probably not but who knows. At that time I never heard people discussing Visa websites for whatever reason. I never did because I had a life outside of work and when I left every day the last thing I wanted to do was go home and look at more “work” type stuff. To coin an old slogan, “Its not an adventure, its just a job”.

Surfing the net wasn’t allowed at work either.

The reason I am here and found VJ was through a website for fellows who are engaged in the Russian/Ukrainian bride endeavor. They recommend it, so I looked around and there was a lot of good info here. So, once I filed my petition I thought there’s no time like the present to join up. I also thought well maybe I could help shed some light on this enigma called the NSC.

Q    We were given an RFE 8 months ago, and we just replied to it this February because our former lawyer didn’t inform us about the RFE. With the given span of time that has elapsed, will CSC still entertain our petition and the documents we have sent for the RFE? And should we be waiting for a NOA2 now?

Ouch.

What I would do is call the information line and make sure they got the information you submitted in response to the RFE and see if your status has changed. If they denied the case because of a lack of response to an RFE, you’d have received a determination to that effect.  So, call them and make sure they got the goods and go from there.

Q   Quick question: I am preparing to put my documents together now and I am debating between putting it in 3 hole binder, thick clips or a folder with 2 punched holes on top. What is the best and most appreciated option?

Here’s what happens at the center. Once your mailed petition arrives at the service center mail room the money and application are separated, then your information/application will be removed from whatever you place it in and put into a standard applicant file just like all the others. As I said earlier up the page, all the petitioners stuff/docs etc… is placed on the left side of the applicant file and the CIS generated stuff is on the right hand side.

So it doesn’t really matter what you send it in really, as long as it stays together until it hits the mail room. I sent all of my stuff in with a big black clip holding everything together and my check paper clipped on the cover letter. Then put everything in a US Mail Express mail envelope. it made it there yesterday AM and I’m sure I’ was in my own little cozy A-file by the end of yesterday afternoon. 🙂

Q   Wow you must be feeling like you’re back at NSC with a giant stack on your desk! 

It’s a good feeling though….

One thing I liked about working there was that you were impacting people’s lives everyday.

Q   Here’s a fun question for you. At every job that deals with people or applications, there are always horror stories or funny stories.

Any funny or horrific applications you’ve seen that you’d like to share? General stuff of course. Example: hunny bunnys that have sent in “suggestive” photos, etc.?

** WARNING GRAPHIC** Unfortunately I think one of the things that stuck with me was a ugly thing but I’ll share it with you because I think as USC’s we sometime forget what a cold cruel world it is out there. And what a great country we live in despite all of our problems.

At the time I was working Refugee and Asylum cases and it was very sad to read some of the case histories that were part of the file either by the Red Cross or whatever International Aid agency was helping these people to come here.

The one I recall the most was the family from a southern Africa country (can’t recall which one now) but anyway the family were refugees who had fled from a neighboring country. Most of the family had made it out but they (the bad guys) had caught one family member and because he had worked in the deposed govt somewhere his hands were cut off at the wrists then he was released. He did not get to escape with the rest of the family.  There were other gruesome stories also mainly the ethnic cleansing type of stuff or religious persecution type of stuff.

On a happier note, I always liked flipping thru everyone’s I-129 file pictures. Two people in love and all the good vibes that go along with that!! Woo Hoo!

Q   I was born on a united states air force base in Ankara, turkey…father was in the air force and we came back to the states shortly after I was born and I have been here ever since…on my i-129f, under “how acquired citizenship”, I put thru parents and gave the number on my certificate of birth of us citizen, sent copy of my certificate of birth of us citizen and certificate of birth abroad…is this correct?

Ya done good my friend. Any military installation a small piece of the US and anyone born in a US military medical facility/hospital is of course a USC. I come from the same situation except I was born on a base in the US. I put “USAF Hospital, X and Such AFB” and the state. I also put my birth certificate # in the space provided even though I sent my passport for proof of citizenship.

So rest easy my friend. ya done good!

Q   You mentioned earlier on about “red flags” and of course an over-stay of a visa was one of them. Even though it is a “red flag” can the petitioner still have a chance of obtaining a visa? How long is too long of an over-stay?

These questions are of course for a “friend.”

Every situation is different. I am not up on the regulations as I used to be as I haven’t been with them for awhile. So I would only be guessing if I told you.

My best advice is to do a Google search on 8 CFR (Code of Federal Regulation) which, again is the regulatory guidance for immigration issues. You can find the complete CFR online somewhere.

Flip through the index and see what part applies to your specific question. It’s fairly easy to understand once you re-read it a couple times.

This is good for anyone have a procedural or legal question regarding how immigration laws/policy is applied with regards to your various petitions.  It’s all there in 8 CFR.

HUSKERKIEV
Feb 23 2007, 12:38 PM

I wanted to post this to hopefully put everyone who is waiting there NOA1 and NOA2’s mind at rest a bit.

To the best of my recollection, the denial rate for I-129F’s is/was relatively low. The majority of people that apply for a I-129F will receive approval, it may take time because of the workload/backlog but you should eventually get it. You may get an RFE or two or none – it all depends, but again barring that you haven’t got something illegal or very bad in your past, were honest and forthright and the petition is for a valid relationship (on both parties part) and everything is legit, you should go through at some point.

IMBRA is a whole different matter as I was not there when it took effect. So I may be eating my words at some point. But typically if you played by the rules, filed an accurate and complete petition and without any major hiccups along the way, you should be approved. So, hopefully now everyone can relax a bit.

Where the rub might come is that even though your I-129F is approved, the consulate can still nix the whole deal and deny granting the K Visa based upon their recommendations for whatever reason they deem fit and appropriate. Again, State Dept tries to approve everyone, but some just don’t make the final cut for legitimate reasons. I saw on the State Dept’s website that they were posting around a 75% approval rate for K-1 Visa’s. My personal opinion would be that if State was deadset on denying K Visa’s, they typically wouldn’t be giving the denied applicant an opportunity (in most cases) to correct the noted deficiencies and reapply.

So I hope this helps everyone.

Q   I would love to know your thoughts on the whole “affidavit of support” process, particularly in regards to the I-864. It states ” you MUST supply (this ….and this) ……and ” you MAY supply (this or that) yet people always seem to being RFE’d when they have supplied everything, or what was particularly asked for. Some have resubmitted exactly what they sent the first time and then been okayed.

If a petition shows that it meets the poverty level at the time of filing with evidence, what initiates RFE’s requesting further evidence, requests for co-sponsors etc?

Try 8 CFR Sec.213.2 If it doesn’t answer your questions PM me. k?

**Update: Separate posting from HUSKERKIEV re: questions and PM’s:

HUSKERKIEV
Apr 15 2007, 06:53 AM

Hi Everyone.

I just wanted to chime in and let you know that I was still here albeit very busy in my personal life in preparation for my gal’s arrival this summer and work.

Also, in discussing (with other members) the answering of these intricate questions, the consensus was that everything should be in the public forum and not via PM. This was for the benefit of the larger community of VJ members and that the resident expertise and experience that makes up these various forums could be brought to bear on your specific question. I also recommend using the CFR’s as they are the most current guidelines.

So, yes I have kinda backed off on answering most of the questions posed to me. Its nothing personal and I will chime in where and when I can in an attempt to be helpful, but if I don’t think I can contribute, then I probably won’t say anything. A lot of the procedural and borderline legal type questions I don’t feel comfortable answering because 1) I worked there some time ago and things probably have changed in the interim and 2) I don’t give legal advice because of the serious ramifications of being wrong. The last thing I would want to do is advise someone of something only to have it slow down their personal journey. So, I hope you all understand.

BTW the fellow who signed for your packet (Hienauer) is the director of the NSC – probably a generic rubber stamp type of thing.

 

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