Over the past four years, there has been a well-documented shift in USCIS’s priorities. While Congress established the agency through the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to focus on the effective and efficient administration of immigration benefits, it has in recent years sought to distance itself from its customer-oriented origins.
This shift in priority is evident in several changes that the agency has made to its services both on a national and local level, and in several policies enacted during the last four years that appear to have been designed to make it harder for USCIS customers to obtain benefits.
In making these changes, the agency effectively walled itself off from its customers, creating barriers to immigration benefits and timely and efficient customer service. This invisible wall has resulted in a significant decrease in customers’ ability to access meaningful assistance and informational updates from the agency. It has also reduced customers’ ability to provide much-needed feedback to USCIS regarding problematic case issues and other trends.
As the agency transitions to work under a new administration, agency officials must take active measures to reduce and eliminate inefficient processes and policies and increase transparency at both the national and local levels.