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Managing expectations

Discussion in 'Commentary' started by Ron Gotcher, Mar 12, 2009.

  1. Ron Gotcher

    Ron Gotcher Attorney at Law

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    Having gone through the immigration process myself (my wife was a J1 professor when we married), I am well aware of the pain and anxiety associated with the immigration process. I also know that people seize on any rumor and analyze it endlessly in the hope that it will provide them with information about their situation.

    Right now, there are somewhere between 350,000 and 400,000 people who have filed employment based applications for adjustment of status with the CIS and are awaiting decisions on their cases. By definition, all of these cases had "current" priority dates at some point.

    AOS applicants now watch the monthly Visa Bulletin to see if the cutoff dates for their categories have advanced beyond their priority dates. In doing this, they mistakenly confuse visa availability with the likelihood that their cases will be adjudicated. At best, there is only a limited relationship between these two concepts.

    An adjustment of status application cannot be approved unless and until the applicant's priority date is "current" (i.e., earlier than the monthly cutoff date in the Visa Bulletin). Having a "current" priority date, however, does not assure that a case will be adjudicated. The CIS, despite policy pronouncements to the contrary, clearly does not process cases on a "first in, first out" basis. Indeed, there does not appear to be any rational basis for their case selection scheme. The CIS Ombudsman has accused them of "picking the low hanging fruit" - meaning that they take "easy" cases in preference to "harder" cases, no matter when filed.

    Applicants should not reasonably expect the CIS to adjudicate their pending adjustment of status applications shortly after their priority dates become current. Understand that when your priority date becomes current, that is just the start of the fight. You need to initiate vigorous inquiries through the CIS Ombudsman's office, the office of one of your Senators or your Congressman, and your own written inquiries and InfoPass appointment inquiries. Do not sit back and assume that they will do the right thing. Get on them and stay on them until your case is adjudicated.

    Most important of all, do not simply assume that when your priority date becomes current, your case will be approved.

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