A major procedural shift announced as a Rule Change by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to the alien relative visa request form (I-130) to promote “efficiency and flexibility” is set to have a devastating effect on the Americans in 172 countries who want to move home now or at any time in the future with their non-American family members.
Before the Rule Change, an Efficient Process with Face-to-Face Assistance
• Each year, 16,000 Americans abroad submit Form I-130 to move back to the US with their families, and most go to the nearest US Consulate.
• As of August 15th, Form I-130 cannot be submitted at US Consulates. Americans in 172 countries will only be able to conduct the process by mail, through the USCIS Chicago Lockbox.
• Americans abroad may not cross borders to the closest USCIS field office to submit the form.
After the Rule Change, Overseas Americans Forced into a Long-distance Process
• Prolonged approvals will result, from 1-3 months to 1-3 years, likely separating families from the start to the visa interview.
• During the approval process, separated family members will not be allowed to visit the US. Form I-130 becomes evidence against visitor visas, and all non-American family members will be subject to greater scrutiny due to this Rule Change.
• Documents and evidence will be sent internationally rather than handled in-country. Notices, including key deadlines, will be sent by international mail, subject to theft and erratic service –delays may result in automatic rejections.
• American citizens will be forced to decide between waiting years and abandoning their families. Only long-distance interaction with government officials will decide to grant a visa interview. Consular officials will no longer be involved.
• Fee payment (Checks or money orders only) must be drawn on a US bank or financial institution.
• Arbitrary and discriminatory effect on American families, due to where they live. An estimated 10,000 Americans each year will be hurt by the Rule Change.
USCIS Fails to Provide Fair and Forthright Notice of the Rule Change
• The USCIS calls this a simple “form change” to promote “efficiency and flexibility” for the agency. For American citizens living abroad, the door to the US will be shut, and it will happen without notice.
• The USCIS did not attempt to evaluate the impact on American families abroad. The rule can still be suspended for study, but the USCIS proceeds without regard for the consequences.
• The USCIS & STATE DEPT deliberately chose not to warn Americans who obtain the form prior to August 15th. As of August 1st, the State Department has not issued any notice that Consular officials will no longer deal with these requests.
• The Rule Change does not save money for anyone. All expenses for immigrant and non-immigrant visa processing are mandated by law to be covered by the fees charged. The fees to begin the process are more than $400, and more fees are required to continue. Secure international mailings will increase the cost of each submission by hundreds of dollars.
• The USCIS inaccurately describes the process as a benefit to Americans abroad, because local mail services substitute for traveling short distances for face-to-face assistance.
For more information, IMMIGRATION@democratsabroad.org and visit the
Democrats Abroad Immigration Group’s Webpage
Rule Citation: http://www.democratsabroad.org/sites/all/modules/civicrm/extern/url.php?u=94067&qid=13103968
DHS Docket No. USCIS–2011–0002 — Federal Register, Vol.76,No. 95,