HOW TO OBTAIN LIAISON ASSISTANCE
WITH RESPECT TO THE
MISSOURI SERVICE CENTER
(11/12/01)


 
I. Purpose of Liaison

The purpose of the liaison program is to assist members in resolving issues in cases unrelated to legal theories or factual allegations that may be in dispute. The liaison program is to be used to address problems that cannot be resolved effectively through legal advocacy. It exists to facilitate communication between the membership and the MSC, not to assist individual members in the presentation or advocacy of individual cases. Guidelines governing liaison with the MSC have been modeled after those governing liaison with the other Service Centers, and any similarity has been expressly intended.

II. General Guidelines

Attempts At Direct Resolution
Unlike the other Service Centers, the MSC has to date provided no methods by which direct resolution of problems appropriate for liaison can be completed. Accordingly these guidelines do not require members to attempt direct resolution before requesting liaison services.

It is anticipated that direct contact and resolution procedures will be established by the MSC in the near future; when established, these will be published. At that point, members will be required to attempt direct resolution before requesting liaison services.

MSC Processing Guidelines
Similarly MSC has not yet had a chance to publish processing guidelines. Accordingly there is no processing guidelines manual available for consultation.

In an effort to establish formulaic filing patterns, the MSC liaison committee will comply and publish suggestions from the INS leadership group at MSC, until a processing guidelines manual can be published from that facility.

Expedite Requests
The MSC uses the same procedure as does the NSC for requesting an expedite. The liaison program is not the appropriate vehicle for requesting an expedite of any matter. The appropriate procedure for requesting an expedite at MSC is as follows:

a.) When the benefit is needed in a time frame that is less than the normal MSC processing times, and

b.) When that short time frame was not caused by less than diligent application procedures on the part of the applicant or petitioner, or
c.) When there is a great humanitarian need, or

d.) When there are great financial consequences at stake, or

e.) When Service error has caused the need for expeditious processing.

Requests that do not meet these criteria will not be granted and delayed processing will inevitably result.

To request an expedite, state "PLEASE EXPEDITE" in the heading of the letter which requests expeditious processing and addresses the criteria listed above. Also note the expedite request on the envelope. This request can be made at the time of filing or by letter after the filing of an application or petition.

If submitted, prepaid return express delivery envelopes (either US Post Office or private delivery service) will be used by MSC to deliver the information/document requested. It is recommended that one be submitted with the expedite request.

Request For Assistance From Multiple Sources
The liaison program should not be used where Congressional assistance or other sources are being utilized. Use of multiple avenues of inquiry causes the MSC to waste its efforts attempting to locate the relevant file, and can result in the MSC's inability to find the file because it is in transit as a result of a parallel inquiry. Such multiple sourcing creates redundant workload, thus generating commensurate ill will at the MSC.

Liaison Representatives Are Volunteers/Program Is New
Members are asked to keep in mind that all liaison representatives are volunteers, contributing their time, effort and financial resources to the liaison program. Although there is never any place for abusive behavior toward one's colleagues, this is particularly true when seeking and/or receiving liaison services.

Members are also asked to keep in mind that the MSC itself, and this liaison program, are newly created. Several rough edges will need to be worked through before a smoothly functioning liaison machine is established. The patience and indulgence of AILA members, along with suggestions for improvement, are most welcome.

III. Appropriate Requests For Liaison Service

The following are considered to be appropriate requests for liaison services:

1. Inquiries concerning cases significantly outside the most recently published adjudication time parameters. Reference in such requests should always be made to the most recent MSC Processing Time Report, published by AILA on the InfoNet, as and when received from MSC (members are strongly urged to consider INS' "frontloading" phenomena in computing applicable time parameters). As of this writing the first report has not yet been provided;

2. Substantive error on receipt or approval notice. Incorrect dates, incorrect name spellings, misdirection of notices to consulates or to incorrect consulates, incorrect status dates, etc.;

3. Clear misstatement of law or policy in an RFE or decision. Requests involving such matters should specify what the misstatement is, what the correct law/policy is, and provide a photocopy of the RFE or decision and correct law or policy recitation along with a completed AILA-MSC Inquiry Form;

4. General, boilerplate RFE not specific about what the adjudicator is requesting. If you receive a "shotgun" RFE that fails to specify what is requested, please include a photocopy of the RFE along with a completed AILA-MSC Inquiry Form.

IV. Requests NOT Appropriate For Liaison Services

The following types of requests are inappropriate for liaison services:

1. Requests to expedite processing. In all but emergent circumstances (e.g., unanticipated "age out"), the expedite process in use at MSC as stated above should be utilized;

2. RFE or decision disputable on the law, facts or evidence. AILA has confidence in the advocacy skills of its individual members, and accordingly does not provide liaison services for the purposes of advocacy in any individual case;

3. RFE requesting evidence that has already been submitted in the original filing. Liaison representatives do not have access to individual files, and accordingly are not capable of determining whether the evidence in question was/was not submitted, whether the evidence in question was lost in transmission from receipt point to the adjudicator, or whether the adjudicator has simply missed evidence that is in fact in the file. Regrettably, members confronted with this situation must respond to the RFE. (However, informing the Liaison Representative of such RFEs will provide good feedback information to MSC);

4. Cases within most recently published processing time guidelines. The MSC has committed to publishing its processing times each month, and these will be posted on AILA InfoNet immediately. Members are asked to note that processing times tend to change while individual filings are pending, and are therefore encouraged to consult the latest published report before requesting liaison services.