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Mar 22, 2018

Reports of a New USCIS Oversight Agency of Adjudication Uncovered

Emily C. Brown

Reports have recently surfaced that USCIS is considering creating an internal oversight department, to monitor the adjudication of permanent residence and citizenship applications.  The Washington Post uncovered internal USCIS documents, which outlined a new the internal oversight agency within USCIS.  The Washington Post reported that there are plans to create an Office of Professional Responsibility, intended to investigate fraud, waste, and abuse in the adjudication process.  The Post disclosed that a USCIS official familiar with the plans describe it as a way to crack down on purported USCIS employees who are too forgiving of demerits in case files such as criminal misdemeanors or having received public assistance.  The documents uncovered by the Post detail, in one draft, the possibility of three divisions within this oversight agency, including an Investigations Division, to look further into cases of fraud and waste, and a Counterintelligence Division, to protect against threats from foreign governments and criminals.

This could be seen as a move in line with the Trump Administration’s overarching immigration goals, such as to cut down on legal immigration through familial ties.  The Trump Administration has claimed that this is an “unfair and unsafe” way to allow foreign nationals into the United States.  The creation of such an oversight agency could heat the immigration debate yet again, threatening the autonomous discretional authority USCIS Officers maintain.  However, the Post reported that USCIS Spokesman Jonathan Withington stated that, “USCIS is not creating an oversight division to monitor employees perceived as too lenient with adjudicating immigration benefit requests,” while emphasizing that many federal agencies have an Office of Professional Responsibility. 

USCIS has stated that there is still not final decision as to whether or not this oversight agency will be created.  Green and Spiegel will be monitoring the situation closely.  If you have any questions or concerns about your immigration status or benefits, please contact us immediately.

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