As your immigration attorney I try to take care of as much of your application process and answer as many of your questions as I can.
On occasion an issue or question arises which requires the attention of an immigration officer. Until recently I would counsel you to schedule an InfoPass appointment to move the issue forward.
InfoPass appointments were 15-minute sessions that you could schedule online to meet with an immigration officer. Available nationally, they were great for things like stamping the passport of a green card extension applicant so that they could travel while waiting for their application to be approved. Appointments were also used for long-pending applications of other various types.
The online system made them easy to schedule.
Ironically, as part of USCIS’s Information Services Modernization Program, the agency is eliminating the self-scheduled InfoPass appointment option. Immigration attorney colleagues of mine have reported that 25 percent of all the immigration offices have done this already, including offices in Chicago, Boston, New York, Atlanta and Louisiana.
Ultimately the program will be rolled out nationally so that none of the offices will be granting self-scheduled appointments anymore.
This does not seem like modernization to me.
USCIS is not offering any compensatory services to replace the InfoPass appointments. We are back to the 1990s’ system of the applicant phoning the agency to ask a gatekeeping customer service representative to schedule time with an immigration officer or having their attorney make the calls.
This reduced access to immigration officers means that we need to be extra vigilant to make sure foreign nationals stay in good standing and that documents remain current. We also need to start earlier for any issues that arise as the phone call system is likely to take longer to resolve issues than the InfoPass access did.
If your visa-holding students or employees have travel plans, please check early to ensure that their documents are up-to-date and contact me as soon as possible with any issues because everything is a bit harder and taking longer than in the past due to reduced access to appointments and the scrutiny brought on by the Buy American Hire American memo.