24 May 2010

Head of US immigration system praised by advocates for immigrants

US Citizenship and Immigration Services' Alejandro Mayorkas has drawn praise from immigrant advocates for his unprecedented review of all agency policies.

US immigration

The new head of US immigration has been praised.

Only eight months into the US immigration top job, Mr Mayorkas has brought greater openness and transparency to the agency with frequent community meetings.

For example, after the Haiti earthquake the office coordinated dozens of meetings reaching 16,400 people to disseminate information on how Haitians in the US could apply for permission to stay in the country until conditions in Haiti had stabilized.

Mayorkas also has invited the public, along with his staff, to weigh in on his latest initiative: a top-to-bottom review of all US immigration agency policies to make sure they are consistent and fair.  Nearly 8,000 people have submitted responses.

Complaints from attorneys, immigrant advocates and others, include that the US visa process is arbitrary and inconsistent, the forms are obtuse, the demands for evidence excessive. The agency exudes a "culture of no" biased against visa petitions, many have complained.

"I have articulated within the agency that we should not shirk from criticism," Mr Mayorkas said.
"We should just work very, very hard not to deserve it."

The US Citizenship and Immigration Services agency oversees all US immigration processes, including petitions for citizenship and green cards; work, student and family visas; asylum; refugee status; and humanitarian relief.

The American Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people make US visa applications to the US Embassy.

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