The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has released a new mission statement that describes America as a “nation of welcome and possibility” for immigrants.
According to its new stated mission, USCIS fulfils America’s promise as a nation of welcome and possibility by acting with justice, integrity, and respect for all those it serves.
The USCIS is the US government’s immigration arm, and the new mission statement is seen as returning USCIS to its role of adjudicating visa applications, employment authorization documents, as well as other immigration perks, backed by the promise of fairness, integrity, and respect towards foreign applicants who wish to work, study, reside, become citizens of, or even seek refuge in the US.
The revised mission statement stands in stark contrast to the Trump administration’s removal of the reference to America as a nation of immigrants from the mission statement in February 2018.
Under the Trump administration, USCIS resorted to severe scrutiny; for example, each visa extension, such as for H-1B visas, was evaluated as a new application. This resulted in a rise in demands for extra documentation (also known as requests for evidence, or RFEs), which increased administrative costs for sponsoring firms and caused delays.
In other cases, visa extensions were flatly denied for a variety of reasons. This was repealed in April of last year, and USCIS reverted to its old practice of deferring to prior approvals when extending visas.
According to a USCIS press release, the new mission statement is a reflection of performance appraisal on the agency’s function, the aims of the Biden Administration, and Director Ur Jaddou’s vision for an inclusive and accessible agency.
“At its core, USCIS is about delivering decisions to families, businesses, workers, and those seeking refuge in our country on their applications, petitions, requests, and appeals. This new mission statement reflects the inclusive character of both our country and this agency. The US is and will remain a welcoming nation that embraces people from across the world who seek family reunification, employment or professional opportunities, and humanitarian protection,” said Ur Jaddou, director, USCIS.
“At USCIS, we know that every time we grant an immigration or naturalization benefit, we are fostering the opportunity to help us build a stronger America. And when we offer refuge to those in need of protection we are living up to our nation’s highest ideals.”
Atlanta based, immigration attorney, Audra Doyle has stated on LinkedIn, a professional social media platform, “I believe this is a major change by USCIS, for the better. The agency’s leadership is signalling a new, less antagonistic tone toward applicants. I expect this idea will take some time to filter down into USCIS’s day-to-day operations, but it’s encouraging to see the leadership’s posture shift.”
She went on to say that, while the USCIS is not an enforcement agency, that work is handled by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the boundary has become blurred over time.
“The role of the USCIS should be to assist lawful immigration to the United States for qualified applicants.” “Nothing else,” Doyle wrote on Facebook.
While the phrase “country of immigrants” has not been reintroduced, the new mission statement has a welcoming tone and assures justice when processing immigrant applications. The American Immigration Council’s executive director, Jeremy Robbins, applauded the new goal statement.
“This new proclamation of their beliefs serves as a reminder that USCIS does more than merely administer our immigration system; it impacts lives and contributes to the building of a stronger nation that benefits all.”
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) continues to receive criticism for delays in processing various immigration benefit petitions, a fact acknowledged by the immigration agency.
“It doesn’t matter what benefit we’re talking about or what you applied for, every single applicant who seeks a benefit from USCIS is entitled to a prompt determination.”
“USCIS is clear on this, and we are taking crucial steps to guarantee that we are addressing case processing timeframes in a meaningful way; and, while there is still much to do, given our large backlog, we have made progress in key areas”, Jaddou noted earlier this month.
Financing remains a concern for this agency, however, it is uncertain when the updated higher fees for various visa applications will be implemented. Last year, the Biden administration urged immigration authorities to stop using derogatory phrases like “illegal aliens.”
When the Trump administration released a USCIS goal statement in 2018, among other modifications, it eliminated the “country of immigrants” line that had been contained in the agency’s previous and long-standing mission statement, there was outrage among progressive immigration groups and others.
USCIS employees decide on applications for green cards, asylum, refugee status, US citizenship, work permits, deportation deferrals, and other immigration benefits. Since President Biden took office, USCIS has implemented a slew of policy changes, many of which are aimed at undoing the Trump administration’s restrictions on legal immigration.
The agency suspended a 2019 regulation that would have made it more difficult for low-income immigrants to get permanent residency, as well as restored some asylum limits.
However, USCIS, which is mostly supported by application fees, is also dealing with a growing backlog of petitions that have hampered its capacity to examine cases in a timely manner, and the agency still depends heavily on paper records.
It has also yet to execute some important Biden administration policy ideas, such as a plan to overhaul the asylum process at the US-Mexico border and a rule to protect the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program from legal challenges.
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