There are presently 3-5 full time I-601 adjudicators, and 3 staff who are on duty. There is a backlog of 7000 – 9,000 I-601 applications. They are discussing opening an office in Los Angeles where they will only work on those backlog cases.
The applicant has to make his I-601 appointment through the Call Center. He can call to make his I-601 appointment as soon as he knows when his IV interview will take place (He just has to make his I-601 appointment for a date after his IV interview).
When an applicant arrives for his or her appointment, a clerk will take the I-601 packet. It is given to an adjudicator who spends approximately 10-15 minutes reviewing it. The adjudicator does not speak with the applicant.
The applicant is then told to pay a fee of (80) pesos at a kiosk inside the facility. This fee pays for the DHL delivery of the preliminary I-601 decision. The next day, the applicant can go to the DHL office (which is close to the Consulate) and pick up the preliminary decision.
He will either be informed that the I-601 was granted, and given instructions on how to obtain the actual immigrant visa, or he will receive a letter telling him that he has 30 days to submit additional information to support his I-601 application.
If his case is not granted right away, he can supplement the I-601 at any time up to the day he receives a decision. New information can be mailed, or sent via e-mail to the USCIS. This is good for people who prepared an I-601 without an attorney. If they hire an attorney later on, the attorney can file the supplemental documents even if it has been more than 30 days since the case was referred to the backlog. They do not need to file a new I-601.
Between 50% and 60% of I-601 waivers are approved upon filing. There is no information on what percentages of referred cases are ultimately approved. The cases in the “backlog” are taking about 13 to 15 months to decide!!
They will consider expediting an I-601 for serious medical issues. This excludes mental/psychological conditions that have come about due to the separation. If you have a physical medical condition, or a pre-existing mental condition, you can request an expedited decision on your waiver via e-mail.
If your client has any arrests or convictions, you must fully document and disclose them even if the charges were never filed or were dropped. They have been asking for police reports and juvenile records too! Even issues that would not make someone inadmissible can be considered for discretion. They want this information up-front from the applicant.
If an I-601 is denied, the applicant may appeal the denial. While the appeal is pending, it is possible to request a new I-601 appointment. The applicant should first contact the call center. They are required to submit a new immigrant visa application, new fees, have a new medical, etc. Basically they have to repeat the whole IV process. However, there is no need to file a new I-130 visa petition. After the new IV interview, they can schedule a new I-601 appointment.
The applicant does not have to withdraw a pending I-601 appeal before submitting a new I-601.
Tips for legal cover letter:
• The consulate will follow BIA case law, so citing cases from a Court of Appeals is a waste of time.
• The less legalese the better; if you are going to include any, save it for the end of the letter.
• Start off your letter with a summary of the case. It is helpful to have a bullet point list of the documents you are submitting.
• Do not bother including country condition evidence since the adjudicators live in Mexico!
The government only adjudicates I-212 applications (Application for Permission to Reapply for Admission into the United States after Deportation or Removal) in conjunction with an I-601 waiver application. So if your client does not need an I-601 waiver, CDJ will not accept their I-212 applications. These applications must be filed in the U.S.
They adjudicate the I-601 first. Because the I-601 standard is higher, if the I-601 is granted, approval of your I-212 is pretty much a given.
The DOS and the DHS are now in the same building; applicants do not have to go to a different building to submit their I-601 applications.
In general, when an applicant enters the Consulate (for either an NIV or an IV interview), he will be given a number and directed to a waiting area. There are monitors that will display his number and the window that where he will be assisted.
Fees – The government does NOT accept cash and strongly discourages applicants from bringing cash because of crime in the surrounding areas. Better to bring a money order, a cashier’s check or a credit card.
Non-immigrant visa issues:
They will be switching to an electronic application system. The form is DS-160 and will be filed on-line. Accuracy is critical. If the applicant makes even a simple mistake on the form (wrong gender, wrong date of birth, etc.), there is no way to correct the information when they appear for the interview. This means they will be forced to re-start the whole process (file a new DS form; pay the fee again, etc). K-1 and K-3 visa applicants are treated like immigrants; they do not file the DS-160.
Unlawful presence bars & minors:
In the past, CDJ had a policy that a minor could not be subject to the “permanent bar.” (This is the bar for 1 year of unlawful presence or deportation/removal followed by a subsequent illegal re-entry or attempted re-entry).
This policy has changed. They will now apply the permanent bar to a minor who has more than 365 days (cumulative) of unlawful presence (or an order of removal/deportation) and then enters or attempts to re-enter the US without authorization.
The regular 3/10 year bars for unlawful presence are, not applicable to minors since the statute explicitly says that no time accrued in the U.S. while the applicant is under 18 years of age shall be considered unlawful presence.
False claims to citizenship & minors:
The government will apply inadmissibility ground for a false claim to citizenship to minors. In other cases of misrepresentation, they will not find the applicant inadmissible if s/he was under 16 at the time of the misrepresentation.
Immigrant Visa Processing:
NVC will be doing all the document review; so when the case is transferred to CDJ, it should be 100% complete and accurate (including the I-864).