USCIS Discloses Delays In Issuance Of Permanent Resident Cards And Employment Authorization Documents; Trusted Traveler Program Resumes For New Yorkers

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U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Ombudsman's office disclosed in an alert on July 21, 2020, that the agency was experiencing card production delays. The alert revealed that in June 2020, USCIS terminated a contract with a third-party production facility. While the agency does intend to hire replacements for the contract workers, the resumption of production of these significant documents, which affirm identity, the ability to travel and assume employment could be delayed. USCIS is expected to experience further delays in permanent resident card production for applicants for adjustment of status applications for permanent residence in the United States as well as for those who immigrated to the United States while paying the ELIS filing fee after completion of the consular process.

USCIS did announce that those who have not received their permanent resident cards due to production delays may be able to secure I-551 stamps as temporary evidence permitting international travel and for purposes of employment authorization. The method to secure an appointment at a local district office would entail contacting the USCIS Contact Center at 1-800-375-5283 in order to arrange individual appointments locally. Appointments will be scheduled where there is 'emergent need' as determined by a USCIS contact representative.

Resumption of Trusted Traveler Program for New York State Residents

The Administration recently reversed its February 2020 decision to bar New York residents from participation in the Trusted Traveler programs, including Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI and FAST. Lawsuits initiated by New York State and the New York Civil Liberties Union resulted in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) admitting making false statements regarding its policy in barring New Yorkers from access to this beneficial program, which expedites international travel for U.S. citizens.

DHS had claimed that New York State had placed excessive restrictions on DHS' ability to access the New York Department of State Motor Vehicle records, making it untenable for DHS to properly vet Trusted Traveler Program applicants. While DHS restricted New York residents, it did not acknowledge that other states had similarly placed restrictions on DHS' access to drivers' license records. The move to restrict New York residents was construed as punitive in nature by the agency. Global entry applications can be accessed here.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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