I understand that part of my job is following-up on cases. In fact, I’ve written about liaison work before and how sometimes that’s the best way to get a case “unstuck.” But there’s liaison work and there’s following-up. And then there’s following-up on your follow-ups and then following up on those. You know it’s bad when you have to set reminders to follow-up on your liaisons requests and emails inquiries and phone calls to various government agencies. When over half of my time is spent following-up, I no longer feel like a lawyer; I simply feel like a hamster running around and around in its wheel.
Here are some examples:
- We filed Joint Motion to Terminate request with the Atlanta Office of Chief Counsel in early April. I know the attorney who has been assigned the case and have left her voice mails on May 24th, June 16th, July 29th, and August 19th. A return phone call to at least says she’s reviewing the case would be nice.
- I-130 was filed in late December 2015 and the normal processing times are five months – meaning that it should have been approved in late May 2016. An online e-request was submitted to USCIS on July 14th, no response was received within 30 days, so I followed up with an email to the California Service Center. 21 days later, still no response, so I submitted a liaison inquiry with AILA. We continue to wait…And, yes, I have to be very specific about the timing because if I submit an inquiry too soon, it will be ignored.
- Three weeks ago, I submitted an inquiry to a U.S. Embassy in East Africa. I asked them for an update regarding a client’s immigrant visa application. And they failed to respond. So I’ve had to escalate my inquiry to a supervisor – but finding a supervisor in the hierarchy of consular officers isn’t easy. Two hours later, I had a contact. I’ve sent in my inquiry again and continue to wait.
- I went to a marriage-based adjustment of status interview on February 22nd in Atlanta. The I-130 was approved quickly, but the I-485 is still pending, six months later. We anticipated that there may be a need for a waiver, but we were waiting for the Immigration Officer to request it before we put in the work and paid the fees. I submitted a liaison request on June 13th to ask for an update from the Atlanta USCIS Field Office and heard nothing. On August 11th, I went in for an InfoPass appointment and was told that the file hadn’t been touched by an Immigration Officer since March. The InfoPass Officer told me that she was going to move this case up to a supervisor, but I’m not allowed to check in on this case again until September 12th.
With over 200 active cases, following-up starts to add-up. Not every case needs this amount of attention, thankfully. But when a case requires all of this extra attention, it’s a waste. It’s a waste of my time and often it’s a waste of government resources. Sometimes there are legitimate reasons why a case takes longer and that should be communicated. Regardless of the reason for a delay, answering a phone call or email would set expectations and get me (and my client) to stop contacting them so they can do their jobs and decide cases. Wouldn’t that be more efficient? Isn’t that what we all want?