Congressional Inquiries For O-1 And P-1 Immigration Cases
A member of the U.S. Congress may be willing to inquire with a federal immigration agency, such as U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the U.S. Department of State (DOS) if you are having problems with your case.
New immigration challenges arise as the COVID-19 pandemic affects government policy and USCIS offices worldwide. Our immigration law firm is responding with new consular and congressional services to offer our clients the best possible chance of successfully coming to the United States under P-1, O-1, EB-1A, and other visa categories. Obtaining approval from USCIS is only the first step in entering the United States for foreign nationals with extraordinary abilities. These immigration cases still need to get an appointment with a U.S. consular office, avoid administrative processing, and perhaps obtain a waiver with the Customs and Border Patrol Agency if they are in a country affected by the coronavirus travel ban.
Over the past few months, we have developed excellent relationships and best practices with congressional officials to inquire about our client’s cases. The agencies that administer immigration policy, such as the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”), United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”), and the U.S. Department of State, are all funded by Congress and thereby deposed to pay attention to their inquiries. In turn, congressional officials are motivated to assist their constituents, and many offices have an immigration liaison charged with making immigration inquiries.
USCIS congressional inquiries are made through the Offices of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs and are appropriate for cases still pending approval. USCIS has a staff of over 120 persons positioned around the United States to respond to over 200,000 congressional immigration inquiries per year.
The Department of State inquiries are made through the Congressional Liaison Office. The Department of State is appropriate for congressional inquiries about issues about consular processing of visas, administrative processing, and expediting visa appointments. The Department of State has charged immigration officers with responding promptly and thoroughly to these congressional inquiries. Issues with Custom and Border Patrol can be a bit more complicated to get answers for, but congressional investigations can also be used for these purposes.
Congressional inquiries should be only used as an option when other avenues have been exhausted. And when the inquiries are made, the information should be appropriately presented and supported with documentation on the case and previous methods attempted to solve the issue to the congressional liaison.
Our congressional practice group includes a congressional liaison to help our clients best package, present, and communicate our clients’ issues to congressional officials. This makes a big difference in the responsiveness we enjoy from congressional liaison partners.
Circumstances where congressional inquiries can make a difference include the following:
USCIS Appropriate Issues
- When cases are still pending beyond regular processing time
- When unusual circumstances call for expedited adjudication
- In situations where USCIS may have made a mistake that needs to be corrected
Department of State Appropriate Issues
- When a visa appointment needs to be expedited
- When a case is placed in administrative processing
- To make emergency appointments in closed consular offices
- When consular offices refuse to provide other updates
US Customs and Border Patrol Issues
- To apply for national interest waivers
- To apply for national interest exemptions from COVID-19 issues
- To find out how different consular posts are handling different kinds of circumstances
It is important to remember that congressional officials cannot force USCIS or DOS to decide. Congressional inquiries are merely persuasive and must meet the requisite criteria to be effective. They are tools that can be used alongside making a request through the USCIS Ombudsman, the American Immigration Lawyers Association liaison with USCIS, or requesting to escalate the case with USCIS to a superior within the agency.
How we can help with your congressional inquiry
- Either help finds the most appropriate officer in your local area or uses our established contacts with our law office. Senior officials may have more experience with contacting agencies.
- Ensure proper procedures are followed while making the request. Each congressional liaison will require a form to be filled out with a privacy consent form and pertinent information to track and flag the proper case.
- Arrange supporting documentation to be submitted with the congressional inquiry.
Let Us Help You, Your Immigration, & Your Family
We understand that immigration can be a complex and stressful process. That’s why we’re here to help you every step of the way. We’ll work with you to understand your individual needs and goals, and we’ll develop a personalized plan to help you achieve them. We’re here to provide you with the peace of mind you need so you can focus on what’s important: your future