Chicago’s INS Office Apparently Lifts Hold on Processing of R.N. and P.T. Permanent Residence Applications
June 22, 2000

For more than a year, the U.S. Immigration & Naturalization Service’s Chicago District Office had been refusing to decide hundreds, if not thousands, of permanent resident applications of registered nurses (and some physical therapists) who were seemingly qualified for approval. These health care workers had apparently complied with all of the INS’ rules and regulations and even obtained their “Visa Screen” certificates issued by the International Commission for Healthcare Professionals (ICHP) as required under recent legislation. Finally, as I had learned this past week, INS Chicago is apparently proceeding with the further processing of the cases in question and dismissing the concerns that up until now had been sticking points.

INS Chicago’s policy to put a hold on these cases evolved as a result of suspicions of fraud arrived at by many of the interviewing officers during the applicants’ adjustment of status interviews over the past couple years. More specifically, in many of these cases, the applicants had never worked for the facility that originally petitioned them to enter the U.S. on their H-1A (or H-1B) temporary work visa. Most of these workers, however, explained that by the time they entered the U.S. they were turned away from their petitioning facility and informed that the job that was the basis of their H-1 visa no longer existed. As a result the workers were forced to seek employment and immigration “sponsorship” elsewhere.

For the past year it was INS Chicago’s perspective that the worker may have been the one to blame by committing fraud upon entry – implying that the worker knew all along, prior to their arrival, that no job existed and that they never intended on working at their petitioning facility. If the fraud charge were proven, the applicant would not be eligible to obtain their permanent residence. However, as INS Chicago eventually realized, such an accusation certainly would have been next to impossible to back up in a court proceeding since each of these workers were in possession of employment contracts that both they and their original H-1 petitioning facility had executed.

INS Chicago now faces the difficult task of matching up the volumes of supporting documents (i.e. Visa Screen Certificates, updated employment letters, address changes, etc.) that had been submitted and accumulating over the years and most likely will have to call in these applicants to take new sets of fingerprints.

What has been particularly frustrating for these workers, most of whom are RNs, was having to watch many of their colleagues receive approvals on applications that had been filed with the INS in Lincoln, Nebraska many months after their own applications were filed with INS Chicago. Apparently, INS Nebraska did not share INS Chicago’s concerns regarding the suspected fraud surrounding the worker’s initial entry and issued approvals without even interviewing most applicants.

Hopefully INS Chicago will work through these files quickly, especially in the cases of applicants with “following to join” family members waiting to be processed at an embassy or consulate abroad.

(As a side note, INS policy regarding the processing of employment based permanent residence, adjustment of status applications was in a transitional phase when most of these applications were filed several years ago. Chicago area applicants at that time had a choice of filing their cases with INS’ Regional Service Center in Nebraska, or filing the application with INS’ Chicago. Now, INS Chicago no longer has initial jurisdiction over employment based residence applications and all such employment based filings for Chicago area applicants must be submitted with INS’ Regional Service Center in Nebraska).

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