November 24, 1999
Memorandum For: All Regional Directors Deputy Executive Associate Commissioner, Immigration Services Division
From: Michael A. Pearson Executive Associate Commissioner Office of Field Operations
Subject: Revised Procedure for Conducting Central Intelligence Agency Checks for Adjustment of Status Applications
The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) has traditionally informed the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and, through them, other law enforcement and intelligence agencies, of the presence of foreign nationals who want to remain permanently in the United States. The INS accomplishes this by forwarding certain biographic information about adjustment of status applicants to the CIA. In return, the CIA advises INS of information in its files that appears to relate to those applicants. This memorandum revises the INS policy and procedures for conducting CIA checks for adjustment of status applications.
Historically, INS offices operated under a “presumptive response time” policy for CIA checks. This policy was set forth in Operations Instruction 105.10. In response to a delay in the processing of CIA checks, INS discontinued the presumptive policy and established an interim “monthly release” policy. Under the interim policy, which began on January 19, 1999, Headquarters released offices to commence final adjudication on adjustment of status applications where the CIA notified INS that it had completed processing submissions through a certain month. At the same time, INS also authorized an exception procedure to the interim policy. INS offices were authorized to adjudicate adjustment of status applications for dependent children in danger of “aging out” without waiting for Headquarters release, and post-audit the cases for CIA checks.
On May 27, 1999, this exception procedure was expanded to include adjustment of status applications filed under the Diversity Immigrant program. These procedures have worked well. The INS is now further expanding and revising the use of procedures for conducting CIA checks introduced for “aging out” and Diversity Immigrant cases to include all adjustment of status applications. The change is based on analysis showing that information the CIA provides to INS on adjustment of status applications is more relevant to law enforcement than benefit processing. The new policy and procedures will both streamline processing time for adjustment of status applications, and ensure that INS directs information the CIA may provide through an enforcement unit for review and coordination and then to the proper operating unit(s) for appropriate action.
Effective immediately, INS field offices and service centers must continue to submit information on adjustment of status applicants to the CIA. However, field offices and service centers processing adjustment of status applicants are no longer required to wait for: 1) a CIA response; 2) passage of time; or 3) release from Headquarters, before commencing final adjudication of the applications. The CIA will continue to send information on adjustment of status applicants to the National Security Unit (NSU) in the INS Office of Field Operations at Headquarters.
The NSU will review information sent by the CIA to determine if the information relates to an applicant’s eligibility for adjustment of status. If so, the NSU has the authority to: 1) suspend adjudication of adjustment of status applications; 2) initiate investigations of applicants; 3) recommend initiation of rescission proceedings when information is unclassified or declassified; and 4) recommend or institute removal proceedings. This revised policy applies to newly filed adjustment of status applications, as well as applications pending adjudication. Revised Procedures for Newly Filed Applications Under the revised policy, INS field offices and service centers will continue to use either the manual or automated “181 process” to submit the names and other biographic information on adjustment of status applicants to the CIA. In order to ensure the timeliness of this procedure, the following procedures must be used for all newly filed adjustment of status applications. Quality Assurance analysts and contract personnel will review field offices and service centers for compliance with these procedures.
Field Office Procedure The field office procedure for adjustment of status applications begins with typing of the Form I-181, Memorandum of Creation of Record of Lawful Permanent Residence, and sending Copy 2 of the form to the appropriate service center. Field offices must send Copy 2 of the Form I-181 to the service center immediately after fee receipt of the application. In no case should there be a delay of more than 30 business days between fee receipt of an adjustment of status application at a field office and sending Copy 2 of Form I-181 to the service center. Detailed instructions for proper preparation of Copy 2 of Form I-181 are contained in the memorandum titled, Clerical Processing of the G-325 through the I-181 in connection with FBI, DOS and CIA clearance for I-485 Applications, issued by the Immigration Services Division on June 10, 1999. Service Center Procedure for Locally Filed Applications The service center procedure for locally filed adjustment of status applications begins with receipt of Copy 2 of the Form I-181 from a field office. After receipt of Copy 2 of the Form I-181, service center must immediately data enter the information into CLAIMS 3. In no case should there be a delay of more than 30 business days between receipt of Copy 2 of Form I-181 at the service center and data entry into CLAIMS 3. This data entry process initiates submission of an applicant’s name and other biographic information to the CIA. Service Center Procedure for Direct Mail Applications The service center procedure for direct mail adjustment of status applications begins with fee receipt and data entry of the application into CLAIMS 3. After receipt of a direct mail application, service centers must immediately fee receipt and data enter the application into CLAIMS 3. In no case should there be a delay of more than 30 business days between receipt of an adjustment of status application and data entry into CLAIMS 3. As stated above, this data entry process initiates submission of the applicant’s name and other biographic information to the CIA. NSU Procedures When the CIA sends information on an adjustment of status applicant to INS, the NSU will immediately review the information to determine if it relates to the applicant’s eligibility for adjustment of status. In no case should this procedure take more than 30 business days from receipt of the CIA information.
Applications Pending Adjudication If the NSU determines that the CIA information relates to eligibility and the application is pending adjudication, the NSU will: 1) notify the field office or service center where the application is pending to suspend adjudication; 2) determine the necessity to investigate the applicant to supplement or corroborate the information received from the CIA; and 3) forward a recommendation for action along with the CIA information, if appropriate, to the field office or service center for review and consideration of the recommended action before adjudication. Approved Applications If the NSU determines that the CIA information would have made an applicant ineligible for adjustment of status or amenable to removal, but the application has already been approved, the NSU will: 1) evaluate the information to determine if rescission of approval and/or removal are possible; 2) forward a recommendation for action along with the CIA information, if appropriate, to the field office or service center where the application was approved and the Associate Commissioner, Field Services Operations, Immigration Services Division if rescission and/or removal are recommended; and 3) refer the information to the appropriate federal government agency, if appropriate, and cooperate in any follow-up, if neither rescission nor removal is possible. Denied Applications If the NSU determines that the CIA information would have made an applicant ineligible for adjustment of status or amenable to removal and the application has already been denied, the NSU will forward a recommendation for action along with the CIA information, if appropriate, to the field office or service center where the application was denied. Transition Procedures for Pending Applications Under the revised CIA check policy, pending adjustment of status applications may commence final adjudication if: 1) the “181 process” has been completed; 2) the field office or service center has not been contacted by the NSU regarding CIA information relating to the applicant; and 3) the case is otherwise ready for adjudication (e.g., fingerprint response received).
Applications Pending Adjudication Field offices and service centers must ensure that the manual or automated “181 process” has been completed before adjudicating a pending adjustment of status applications. In the case of locally filed applications, the record should include Copy 1 of the Form I-181 with the date that Copy 2 of the form was sent to the service center noted. See Clerical Processing of the G-325 through the I-181 in connection with the FBI, DOS and CIA clearance for I-485 Applications. In the case of direct mail applications, the record should include a print of the “181 screen” from CLAIMS 3 reflecting the date of data entry. Approved Applications Awaiting Post Audit Procedures Adjustment of status applications approved under the interim procedure and awaiting post audit pursuant to the memorandum titled, CIA G-325 Post Audit Guidelines, issued by the Immigration Service Division on June 10, 1999, no longer require CIA checks, Supervisory Post Audit, or QA Review post audit procedures. Field offices and service centers in possession of such applications should prepare the cases for card production. Implementation This memorandum has the concurrence of the Office of General Counsel, the Office of Policy and Planning, and the Office of Programs. The policy and the associated procedures are effective immediately. Please notify all offices under your jurisdiction of the revised policy and procedures. Written questions and answers regarding implementation of the new policy are attached to this memorandum. Additional questions about the new procedure should be directed through your office to the Office of Field Operations, Immigration Services Division, Field Service Operations.
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Carl Shusterman served as an INS Trial Attorney (1976-82) before opening a firm specializing exclusively in US immigration law. He is a Certified Specialist in Immigration Law who has testified as an expert witness before the US Senate Immigration Subcommittee. Carl was featured in the February 2018 edition of SuperLawyers Magazine.