Immigration Mystery Revealed: The Occult Process behind Nonimmigrant Visa Waivers

Immigration Mystery Revealed: The Occult Process behind Nonimmigrant Visa Waivers

Former INS/CBP official John B. Klow writes on the Admissibility Review Office: "Back in the days of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), the immigration benefits and enforcement agency operated within the Department of Justice, processing of consular nonimmigrant waivers seemed to be pretty straight forward.

Applicants submitted their nonimmigrant visa applications at American consulates, and if an individual were found inadmissible to the U.S., consular officers, if so inclined, forwarded recommendations that a waiver of inadmissibility be granted to the overseas INS offices with jurisdiction to approve a waiver. The process was transparent, but decisions could take frustratingly long times -- often months, sometimes stretching to a year or more. Lengthy delays were attributable to the competing priorities assigned to the particular INS office overseas. Also, with this sort of decentralized decision-making, there was at least a perception of inconsistency of adjudications.

With the creation of the Department of Homeland Security on March 1, 2003, changes came. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) decided to keep the nonimmigrant waiver decision-making process within the inspections program as it had rested in the INS days. The reasoning was that the decision of whom to admit at ports of entry was CBP’s, and CBP should not have to go to another agency for that determination. Since the immigration inspection program transferred to CBP, so also did nonimmigrant waiver decision-making authority.

CBP established a single office to decide all nonimmigrant waiver cases, the Admissibility Review Office, now located in Hearnden, VA. ..." - more