By: Richard Hanus, Esq.
Published December 26, 2022
Here are just a few of my hopes and dreams for our nation’s immigration system in the coming year. The wind is blowing against us on many of these, but that doesn’t mean we should not articulate the issues and try to advocate for change. This list, to be sure, is just a start.
To U.S. Department of Homeland Security/Citizenship and Immigration Services (DHS/CIS) management – let’s continue to find ways to immediately reduce the 6-18 month processing times for routine applications such as for employment authorization and advance parole travel documents. While we are at it, let’s also try to do more to reduce wait times, and waive interviews when appropriate, for green card (I-485) applications processed in the U.S.
Some kudos to US DHS/CIS – please keep up the great work in efficiently processing N-400 Applications for Green Card holders looking to naturalize and become U.S. citizens. Bravo on the 3-4 month turn around times – from application to oath ceremony – we have been seeing in Chicago and other jurisdictions!
While we have your attention, US DHS/CIS – can we pretty please return to the olden days when a reasonable way for applicants in the U.S. to schedule an INFOPASS appointment with an immigration officer at a local DHS/CIS office was available and did not involve putting one’s sanity at risk?
May the dedicated front-line and managerial workforce at all of our government agencies administering immigration related laws – including at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Department of Labor, U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Executive Office of Immigration Review – continue to carry out their duties with a deep sense of fairness and with their diligent service to our nation appropriately rewarded.
For our nation’s lawmakers – let’s try to find a way to create more legal avenues, aka “right ways”, for employers and foreign nationals to access our immigration system. Such measures will help address our labor shortage in critical industries and take pressure off our border. Further, let’s not allow for nonsense conclusions mistaking advocacy for immigrant rights or more practical, user-friendly legal immigration options as being in favor of “open borders”. Let’s also not allow for the conclusion that those speaking about the importance of immigration law enforcement and border integrity are necessarily taking an inhumane, unjust or “anti-immigration” position.
Speaking of our border and asylum seekers – call me a dreamer, but I have confidence that our nation can find effective ways to give integrity to our border and immigration laws and at the same time fairly administer our asylum laws and protect deserving foreign nationals fleeing for their lives based on legally protected grounds. It will never be perfect, but it’s more than possible for us to devise a humane system where asylum seekers are given a fair chance to have their applications reviewed and where our border is not compromised. Let’s also speak out loudly against the cruel publicity stunts of certain state officeholders who needlessly transport vulnerable asylum seekers to far away places for political gain.
More for our lawmakers – Let’s finally find a way for 12 million undocumented foreign nationals in the U.S. to come out of the shadows and legalize their immigration status. This group of otherwise law abiding foreign nationals – with little or no criminal record – already benefit from a de facto amnesty and there is little if any chance our nation will ever have the will or means to facilitate a mass deportation initiative. Plus a decent portion of this group have lived in the U.S. since childhood and have known no other country. And in case you are asking, sure – you can call it an “amnesty”, a “legalization” or “path to citizenship”, but it’s just a matter of semantics, with different words referring to a process that leads to the same result: millions of immigration law breaking, but hard working, and tax paying foreign nationals filling some of society’s most thankless jobs get a chance to plant their stakes and secure a permanent future here.
U.S. Department of Labor – can we please find a way to reduce the 7-11 month processing times for essential parts of our legal, job based Green Card process, including employer requests for Prevailing Wage Determinations (ETA 9141) and applications for Permanent Employment Certification “PERM” (ETA 9089)? Cutting the wait times on these steps will make our legal immigration process exponentially more manageable for employers and their foreign national workers.
U.S. Department of State AND DHS/CIS – Both agencies play key roles in facilitating visa processing for overseas foreign nationals seeking to obtain immigrant visas to reside permanently in the U.S. The delays impacting “Immediate Relatives” seeking to be reunited with U.S. family or shortage profession workers (e.g. registered nurses, physical therapists) looking to fill positions in the U.S. are unconscionable. 2-3+ years total wait times for processes that used to take no more than 12 months has become the norm. But workforce expansion and reprioritization initiatives at both agencies will go a long way toward reversing a trend of gradually ballooning delays for I-130 and I-140 petition review and the subsequent overseas U.S. consular post scheduling of visa interviews.
This list is just a start, and may the new year be one where our society can come together to focus on solutions as much, if not more, than on our grievances and problems.
PUBLISHED December 26, 2022 – “IMMIGRATION LAW FORUM” Copyright © 2022, By Law Offices of Richard Hanus, Chicago, Illinois