Extreme Hardship, Extreme Luck, or Extreme Lawyering – USCIS Immigrant Waiver Approval Rates

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In the attached file are the most recent approval statistics for USCIS offices within the Rome District.  Noteworthy is the wide disparity in I-601 approval rates: for example, the Rome office approves only 25% of the applications while Frankfurt approves 76% (presumably, this is associated with the large number of US military personnel stationed in Germany).

The Accra, Ghana field office, which has jurisdiction over Ghana, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo, has an approval rate of 22%. The Nairobi, Kenya office, on the other hand, which accepts applications from Burundi, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Rwanda, Seychelles Islands, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda, has an approval rate of 70%.  The Johannesburg, South Africa office (Lesotho, Swaziland, Mozambique, Namibia, Angola, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Madagascar, Botswana, Comoros Islands, and Mauritius) has a 67% approval rate. While there may be country-specific issues which play a role in these approval rates – relocating to Ethiopia as opposed to Nigeria may be considered to be more of an extreme hardship – it nevertheless boils down to the decisionmakers and policies in place in those USCIS offices.

That is one reason why potential asylees go forum-shopping in the United States – to find a local immigration office or judge more likely to approve an application for asylum, one need only review asylum-approval or immigration judge statistics.  Nothing wrong with trying to increase one’s chances within the confines of the law, but it is disconcerting to realize how much luck – the assigning of a particular officer or judge to a case file – factors into deciding the fate of an individual and his family.  Besides the examiner, no other single factor is as important to the fate of your waiver application then the selection of a good lawyer (the subject of tomorrow’s post)…

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