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USCIS announces it will no longer be possible to schedule local office InfoPass Appointments without first getting permission

In a move that didn’t at first get wide attention, US Citizenship and Immigration Services has taken aim at its meager existing customer service facilities through implemented an “Information Services Modernization Program.” The InfoPass service, an online portal that allows individuals to schedule customer service appointments at their local USCIS office with a USCIS officer, will now require prior authorization from USCIS for utilization unless the Service itself instructs an individual to make such an appointment.

The change has already been implemented in several districts, with the New York District and Holtsville sub-office to be made a part of the program on January 7, 2019.

The move funnels everyone to the “National Customer Center” 800 phone line (800 375-5283), which requires navigation of a complex phone tree to eventually get to a customer service agent. These individuals, who are contractors rather than actual trained USCIS officers, are permitted only to read from scripts on their computer screens and are given very little discretion to actually provide assistance.

They do have the authority to escalate the call to a USCIS officer, who has somewhat more authority and discretion to take action but have historically (and understandably) been able to accomplish little where a file was at a local office or where some form of interim document needs to be issued locally. These individuals will now be the gatekeepers of who gets to sit down with a USCIS officer at a local district USCIS office.

USCIS has gone so far as to remove “customer service” as a goal in its mission statement in favor of a focus on detection of the relatively few instances of fraud and on overall on-site enforcement.