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  • DallasBlue
    09-13 03:00 PM
    Caught in a Bureaucratic Black Hole
    By Anna Gorman
    The Los Angeles Times

    Monday 10 September 2007

    Applicants seeking US citizenship languish for years as the FBI conducts cumbersome records checks. Lawsuits are a result.
    Seeking to become a U.S. citizen, Biljana Petrovic filed her application, completed her interview and passed her civics test.

    More than three years later, she is still waiting to be naturalized - held up by an FBI name-check process that has been criticized as slow, inefficient and a danger to national security.

    Petrovic, a stay-at-home mother in Los Altos, Calif., who has no criminal record, has sued the federal government to try to speed up the process. She said it's as if her application has slipped into a "black hole."

    "It's complete frustration," said Petrovic, who is originally from the former Yugoslavia and is a naturalized Canadian citizen. "It's not like I am applying to enter the country. I have been here for 19 years."

    Nearly 320,000 people were waiting for their name checks to be completed as of Aug. 7, including more than 152,000 who had been waiting for more than six months, according to the U.S. Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services. More than 61,000 had been waiting for more than two years.

    Applicants for permanent residency or citizenship have lost jobs, missed out on student loans and in-state tuition, and been unable to vote or bring relatives into the country. The delays have prompted scores of lawsuits around the country.

    Already this fiscal year, more than 4,100 suits have been filed against the citizenship and immigration agency, compared with 2,650 last year and about 680 in 2005. The mandamus suits ask federal judges to compel immigration officials to adjudicate the cases. The majority of the cases were prompted by delays in checking names, spokesman Chris Bentley said.

    "There is nothing in immigration law that says that a citizenship application should take two, three, four years. That's absurd," said Ranjana Natarajan, an ACLU staff attorney who filed a class-action lawsuit in Southern California last year on behalf of applicants waiting for their names to be checked. "People who have not been any sort of threat ... have been caught up in this dragnet."

    In addition to the bureaucratic nightmare that the lengthy delays present, attorneys and government officials say there is a far more serious concern: They could be allowing potential terrorists to stay in the country.

    Fallout From 9/11

    The backlog began after 9/11, when Citizenship and Immigration Services officials reassessed their procedures and learned that the FBI checks were not as thorough as they had believed. So "out of an abundance of caution," the agency resubmitted 2.7 million names in 2002 to be checked further, Bentley said.

    Rather than simply determining if the applicants were subjects of FBI investigations, the bureau checked to see if their names showed up in any FBI files, including being listed as witnesses or victims. About 90% of the names did not appear in the agency's records, FBI spokesman Bill Carter said.

    But for the 10% who were listed, authorities carefully reviewed the files to look for any "derogatory" information, Carter said. Because many documents aren't electronic and are in the bureau's 265 offices nationwide, that process can take months, if not years.

    "It is not a check of your name," said Chuck Roth, director of litigation for the National Immigrant Justice Center in Chicago, which also filed a class-action suit. "It is a file review of anywhere your name happens to appear. It has just created a giant bureaucratic mess."

    Although many of those stuck in the backlog are from predominantly Muslim countries, there are also people from Russia, China, India and elsewhere. They include government employees and Iraq war veterans. Many have been in the U.S. legally for decades.

    In one case decided in Washington, D.C., recently, a federal judge wrote that a Chinese man's four-year wait for permanent residency was unreasonable and ordered the government to decide on the application within three months. Petrovic, who has two U.S.-born teenagers, doesn't know what delayed her application. The only explanation she can think of is that her name is common in her native country.

    She and her husband, Ihab Abu-Hakima, also a Canadian citizen, applied for citizenship in April 2003 and had their interviews in February 2004. Her husband was sworn in that summer, while her application continued to languish. She checked the mail daily.

    When she still didn't hear anything, Petrovic contacted immigration officials, who told her that the FBI had her file and that it was still active. She also contacted her representative and her senator, whose offices asked Citizenship and Immigration Services to expedite the application. She filed a Freedom of Information Act request for her FBI file, which simply showed that she had never been arrested.

    "I have a feeling that the system has broken down," she said.

    Joining a Different Group

    In August, Petrovic joined an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit filed in Northern California against the federal government. She is waiting to become a U.S. citizen so she can sponsor her elderly parents, who live in Canada and visit often.

    "Every time they leave, I feel bad," she said. "This is their life here, more than there."

    The problem extends beyond the disruption of personal lives.

    In his yearly report to Congress in June, immigration services ombudsman Prakash wrote that the policy on checking names "may increase the risk to national security by extending the time a potential criminal or terrorist remains in the country." questioned the overall value of the process, writing that it was the "single biggest obstacle to the timely and efficient delivery of immigration benefits."

    The Department of Homeland Security has acknowledged the threat, last month announcing plans to work with the FBI to address the backlog and reduce delays. Citizenship and Immigration Services will reassess the way name checks are done and earmark $6 million toward streamlining the process, Bentley said.

    Though 99% of the agency's name checks are completed within six months, Bentley said, the lengthy delays for some applicants is "unacceptable."

    "That requires a lot of patience on the part of an applicant because they have to wait sometimes multiple years," he said.

    Nevertheless, he said, no benefit will be approved until that name check comes back clear. Security checks have produced information about sex crimes, drug trafficking and individuals with known links to terrorism, according to the agency.

    Carter, the FBI spokesman, said he understands that applicants waiting for answers are anxious, but he said the process is complicated and involves dozens of agencies and databases - and, in some cases, foreign governments.

    "The FBI's No. 1 priority remains to protect the United States from terrorist attack," Carter said. "To that end, we must ensure the proper balance between security and efficiency."

    In addition to clearing the backlog and processing the 27,000 new name checks it receives each week from immigration officials, the FBI is trying to accelerate the process by making more documents electronic. It is also adding more staff and moving resources to a new records facility in Virginia, Carter said.

    Mark Krikorian, executive director of the conservative Center for Immigration Studies, said the government needs to make sure that it carefully checks every application. And working with foreign governments is inevitably going to slow the process down, he said.

    "We correctly have much more stringent standards for immigration," he said. "I am not really sure that there is any way to do this kind of deep background check efficiently."

    But attorneys said that because of the inefficiency, the program isn't serving its purpose.

    "Let's say this guy is a terrorist or a criminal," Los Angeles immigration attorney Carl Shusterman said. "Why wouldn't the FBI rush the case?"

    Mervyn Sam, a South African native who got a green card in 1998, has been waiting more than four years for the FBI to complete his name check. Sam said his career has been affected by the delay. He lives in Anaheim and is a project manager at a software company but cannot work on certain government projects because he is not a U.S. citizen. He has sued the federal government.

    "I am not sure what the hiccup is on my end," he said. "It is very, very frustrating."

    Shusterman, whose office is representing Sam, said applicants waste their time by contacting the immigration services agency, the FBI or their legislators.

    "There is only one thing that works, and that is suing them in federal court," he said.


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  • EB2DEC152005
    08-16 04:50 PM
    Here is reponse from Ombudsman.

    Dear Sir/Madam:

    We have received your case problem. We will initiate a formal inquiry with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

    We appreciate your continued patience and understanding.


    Office of the CIS Ombudsman

    Department of Homeland Security

    Did anybody get the reponse the same way?

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  • GKBest
    10-11 04:04 PM
    Let's give them one more month. I just hope that if they are using LIFO now (latest application received being entered into the system), they should also use LIFO in processing the cases, meaning the last case entered (probably an early July filer) will be the first one to be processed.....just a wishful thinking.

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  • p_kumar
    01-08 05:19 PM

    It will be really great of we can get some or all of these requests are granted.
    I have some friends who had their GC in in 16 to 18 months from soup to nuts. They changed the jobs to some thing really entirely different and better yet they stopped working and started their own companies and recently naturalized as Citizens. So they only honored their intent to work for the same company for 18 months MAX and they are citizens.

    Where as many of us are working for the same company for YEARS together. 9th year in my case same job, same seat, just got a different monitor recently for a change :) , no change in sight.

    Question :

    Since many of us have already fulfilled our intent to work for the employer many times over, why would we still need to get a job in Similar or same occupation to change ?

    I know we are now requesting them to change the definition of same or similar so that I can take a promotion in the same field. What about people who acquired different knowledge and want to put to use ?

    A friend of mine wants became proficient in photography and wants to become a professional photographer full time. He can't even in new case.
    Another friend got a MBA finance (currently working in IT) can't become a financial consultant or investment banker. But for the retrogression, they could have done what they wanted the second day after getting the GC.

    Did it ever occur to the core to request a relief so that , if you worked for the company in the job for which GC is filed for XX years (say 5 for example), you are no longer required to look for the same or similar occupation when you change the job ? (Because of the delay in approval of the case due to retrogression and you have already made good on your promise of working for the company.) .

    Or is it too much to chew ?

    PS : This is not to find fault with any one (person or organization). Let the ideas keep coming.


    Minds are like parachutes. They only function when they are open.

    But it may be too much to ask at this point.


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  • unseenguy
    06-19 02:14 AM
    You are certainly showing your class and language skills here. Your momma teach you to talk like that? :rolleyes:

    Tell me something.. when you applied for your L1 visa, did you fill out a DS157 form? All males in a certain age group are required to fill that, women are not.. but I'm not sure what they require from hijras like you :D

    Again dumb idiot check your comprehension skills. You are making an assumption I am on L1.

    And before you invoke my family members, check what yours have taught you. Did I ever mention your mother eventhough I could? What did your mother teach you, too call others hijras? :)) sounds very cultured family.

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  • somegchuh
    04-17 01:47 PM

    I have heard from friends that if after 90 days of applying you don't receive an EAD card, you can walk into a local USCIS office and they will issue you an EAD. Is this still true? If yes, what documentation do I need to take with me? Its been 2 months since I applied. Anybody know how long it is taking from NSC?



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  • Hunter
    05-09 01:57 PM
    You guys are just too lazy to study new technologies that is ever changing. You are more interested in having beers and watching football

    Let us talk about the "skills" introduced by H1/L1/offshore companies

    a) One guy takes the phone interview for 15 other guys with "skills" they preted to have
    b) Lying on the resume with "skills" that you don't have, so that you can learn the "skill" at the expense of the client
    c) "Skill" in Violating B1 visa laws and sending people on B1 to do actual work to client
    d) "Skill" in violating L1 law which is used to drive down the wages by 20-30%
    e) "Skill" demonstrated by indian offshorers to enter into a contract with a large corporation where they will provide warm bodies in exchange for a very low billing rate. Client wouldn't have any ability to interview the incoming cosultant, which means the offshorer employee is learning at the expense of the foolish client. Then that will be touted as "savings".
    f) "Skill" of fly-by-night operators to shave off 70% of the billing rate through a 6-level pyramid of contracting companies

    Should I add to this list of "skills" further?

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  • Hope_GC
    07-09 09:51 PM
    This is awesome even before getting the flowers we have achieved what was intended.

    I request members to refrain from making personal comments.
    Everyone has got their opinion but if that is against our idea and thoughts we should tackle it fairly.

    Anyways KUDOS to Everyone participated in this cause.


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  • breddy2000
    07-01 11:24 AM
    Yes but on Monday morning it is NOT going to be current appantly. So, technically you did not send documents ( if you are getting it out on MONDAY) when they were current.

    Just imagine, overnight bulletin was revised, what should we do? They did change it,if you know what I mean?

    Guys this is a revision to the July Visa Bulletin. Meaning, even if the revision happens on July 29th to the July Visa Bulletin, it holds good for entire july.
    This is not August bulletin.

    Looks like people have misconception, that if their file goes to USCIS on July 2nd and visa bulletin is revised on July 3rd or later date, then they are safe. It is not so.
    If at all if there is a change to the August bulletin it holds good for August and not to July bulletin.

    Pls let me know if my understanding is wrong

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  • quizzer
    09-09 05:36 PM
    Called everybody. left detailed VM's to most of them.

    Some of the office people asked a few questions and I answered them briefly.



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  • ItIsNotFunny
    11-25 10:28 AM
    My suggestion is to explore short selling to avoid foreclosure. This will not affect your credit as foreclosure does. And mortgage lenders are going ahead with this option.

    This is true, mortgage lenders will avoid foreclosure fees and still get their money. Just give a shot, try talking to your bank.

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  • newtoearth
    06-16 02:20 PM
    OP Do you know how many L1 visa types are there???

    Who said L1 can't be at claient place? Who said L1 can't do programming?

    Don't spit on other community becoz you are loosing some thing...


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  • gcseeker02
    05-22 12:22 PM

    My name on the birth certificate is "girl". What should I do correct it. I was reading on the forums, that we can get a written statement saying that the name was not decided when I was born. And submit that along with high school mark sheets etc. Are there any other things that could rectify this error.

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  • shukla77
    01-10 08:58 PM
    Wow.. I am super motivated now..I am gonna try the same with the people who work for me and see how it works.... just kidding... :D:D:D:D I will send letters on saturday...

    Good Luck

    IV has not done anything that could have a negative impact on your green card processing. IV is striving hard to change your lives.

    Shame on those who are scared or pessimistic. All you people do is to gaze at the sky and wait for the stars to fall.

    If you are so scared - how will u raise your children? What will u teach them? Cowardice? Will U teach them to run away from issues? Will u teach them how to not cooperate?


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  • whitecollarslave
    01-14 06:18 PM
    Do you belong to a state chapter?. If you have not joined a state chapter yet please let us know your residing state and we will direct you to the appropriate state chapter. State Chapter's can provide information related to all EB issues we are working on. Thanks

    Thanks! I am in Virginia.

    Thanks to needhelp for the reference.

    Is it advisable to include a reference to the Ombudsman report in the letter to the President? I am talking about the earlier mentioned reference on page 33 stating that "since 1994 there have been over 218,000 un-recaptured employment-based visas lost due to underutilization of the employment-based visas."

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  • sundarpn
    02-15 01:30 PM
    I called the Nogales (mexico) US embassy and they were able to look up the PIMS system using the petition number.

    I hope the PIMS is a "centralized" system. So even the consulate in India would be using the same.


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  • Macaca
    12-05 04:56 PM
    JUAN GONZALEZ: Well, I�d like to move on. I want to play a report from your show covering former Mexican President Vicente Fox�s May 2000 visit to the United States. Your reporter Casey Wian�

    LOU DOBBS: Wian.

    JUAN GONZALEZ: Wian, I�m sorry�described the visit as a, quote, �Mexican military incursion.� This aired on May 23, 2006.

    CASEY WIAN: This Mexican military incursion was fully authorized. A Mexican air force jet carrying President Vicente Fox was not just invited to Utah, but encouraged to visit by Governor John Huntsman.

    PRESIDENT VICENTE FOX: We fully support the businessmen from Utah and Mexico�

    CASE WIAN: It�s estimated Utah has about 100,000 illegal aliens, and the number is growing rapidly. Utah is also a part of the territory some militant Latino activists refer to as Aztlan, the portion of the Southwest United States they claim rightfully belongs to Mexico.

    You could call this the Vicente Fox Aztlan tour, since the three states he�ll visit�Utah, Washington, and California�are all part of some radical group�s vision of the mythical indigenous homeland, Lou.

    LOU DOBBS: Casey, thank you very much.

    JUAN GONZALEZ: The Southern Poverty Law Center criticized CNN for airing that report, in part because, as your reporter Casey Wian spoke, a graphic appeared on the screen. It was a map of the United States highlighting the seven Southwestern states that Mexico supposedly covets and calls Aztlan. The map was prominently sourced to the Council of Conservative Citizens, which is considered by many to be a white supremacist hate group.

    AMY GOODMAN: Your response, Lou Dobbs?

    LOU DOBBS: You know the response, and you know the reality. That�how long was that screen up? How long was that map up?

    AMY GOODMAN: Enough to see it.

    JUAN GONZALEZ: A few seconds.

    LOU DOBBS: The field producer who�did you know it was from the CCC? Which is a hate group.

    AMY GOODMAN: It�s attributed right there. It says Council of Conservative Citizens.

    LOU DOBBS: Right. And it couldn�t be clearer, could it? I mean, we weren�t hiding anything. We had no idea what they were. The field producer who used it went on the web, pulled�did a �grab,� as it�s called, and put it up. And she was suspended for a day for doing so.

    Did you guys know that we have sent our producers and our reporters down to the Southern Poverty Law Center years ago to make certain this sort of thing doesn�t happen? That�s how seriously we take the issue. And for you to talk about the incursion, you forgot to point out that that was coming out of rather jocular discussion of the incursions by Mexican forces along the border and the response of the US government.


    LOU DOBBS: And, I mean, are you offended?

    AMY GOODMAN: Lou, did you say you have no idea what the Council of Concervative Citizens is?

    LOU DOBBS: Did I say I don�t?


    LOU DOBBS: I certainly do now. Absolutely. What did I�you didn�t hear what I just said?

    AMY GOODMAN: I just want to�

    LOU DOBBS: They�re acknowledged as a hate group. Absolutely.

    JUAN GONZALEZ: See, but the problem, this�

    LOU DOBBS: What is the problem here?

    JUAN GONZALEZ: Projecting the image to your viewers that there�s a Mexican desire to reconquer, the Reconquista of the Southwestern United States, does create images�and especially in people who are not necessarily as intelligent as you necessarily or who have studied as much as you have�

    LOU DOBBS: Thank you for conceding that.

    JUAN GONZALEZ: �that the country is under siege.

    LOU DOBBS: My god, are you so self-important that you don�t think people have a sense of humor when Casey Wian says this is an authorized incursion by the Mexican government? You don�t think people have a sense of humor about that? The reality is, I think most people do. The other thing is, who are you trying to protect America from? I�m a little confused, because the reality is that there is a strong radical group of Reconquistas and Aztlan aficionados, and I have had them demonstrating against me in a couple of cities over the past few weeks. Don�t sit here being disingenuous�

    JUAN GONZALEZ: I�m not.

    LOU DOBBS: �and sanctimonious, because, let me tell you something�

    JUAN GONZALEZ: I�m not being disingenuous.

    LOU DOBBS: �there are many idiots on either extreme of this debate, and don�t kid yourself�

    AMY GOODMAN: But, Lou, I think what�s important here�

    LOU DOBBS: �and you know it.

    AMY GOODMAN: �once again, is the pattern. It�s the pattern�

    LOU DOBBS: The pattern�come on, please.

    AMY GOODMAN: No, let me make my point, because what I talk about is facts.

    LOU DOBBS: OK, let�s look at the pattern. The pattern is, for five years, we�ve been reporting on illegal immigration. The pattern is that we have been reporting on the impact of illegal immigration. It doesn�t suit your partisan views�and that�s understandable�or your ideological views. But don�t get carried away with yourselves, for crying out loud!

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  • NKR
    08-07 10:26 AM
    But what if it is successful... What will happen then...

    Then you will get GC faster though you had cut the GC line. What else...

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  • sGC
    08-12 02:07 PM
    Dude mine too today.....Common cheer up and jump up and down...

    your old buddy from NJ
    Congrats FinalGC..

    Did you do something. I am from NJ too. Did you contact any congressmen or senators from NJ?

    09-13 09:08 AM
    Received physical cards and welcome notice on the same day.


    01-11 12:17 AM