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    Subject Term: "Permanent residency"

    4 publications with a total of 16 open recommendations
    Director: Rebecca Gambler
    Phone: (202) 512-8777

    11 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better address current and future staffing needs, the Director of EOIR should develop and implement a strategic workforce plan that addresses, among other areas, key principles of effective strategic workforce planning, including (1) determining critical skills and competencies needed to achieve current and future programmatic results; (2) developing strategies that are tailored to address gaps in number, deployment, and alignment of human capital approaches for enabling and sustaining the contributions of all critical skills and competencies; and (3) monitoring and evaluation of the agency's progress toward its human capital goals and the contribution that human capital results have made toward achieving programmatic results.

    Agency: Department of Justice: Executive Office for Immigration Review
    Status: Open

    Comments: In August 2017, EOIR officials reported that its Immigration Court Staffing Committee, established in April 2017, would, among other things, examine how to best leverage the judicial and court staff workload model to address its short- and long-term staffing needs, assess the critical skills and competencies needed to achieve future programmatic results, and develop strategies to address human capital gaps. This committee expects to complete its work in March 2018. EOIR also reported that it is developing an agency-wide strategic plan that includes human capital planning as a critical component, which will be used to guide workforce planning for the entire agency. To fully address this recommendation, EOIR's Immigration Court Staffing Committee should complete its work and provide documentation demonstrating that it: 1) addressed the agency's short- and long-term staffing needs; 2) identified the critical skills and competencies needed to achieve future programmatic results; and 3) developed strategies to address human capital gaps. EOIR should also provide documentation, including the completed strategic plan, describing how the agency tailored its human capital strategies to address gaps in the number, deployment, and alignment of human capital approaches; and is monitoring and evaluating the agency's progress toward its human capital goals.
    Recommendation: To better address EOIR's immigration judge staffing needs, the Director of EOIR should: (1) assess the immigration judge hiring process to identify opportunities for efficiency; (2) use the assessment results to develop a hiring strategy that targets short- and long-term human capital needs; and (3) implement any corrective actions related to the hiring process resulting from this assessment.

    Agency: Department of Justice: Executive Office for Immigration Review
    Status: Open

    Comments: In August 2017, EOIR stated that it is actively implementing a new streamlined hiring plan that aims to reduce the hiring timeline. According to EOIR, this revised hiring plan, among other things, sets clear deadlines for assessing applicants moving through different stages of the process and for making decisions on advancing applicants to the next stage, as well as allows for temporary appointments for all selected judges pending full background investigations. EOIR stated that it will use this revised process in the future to fill judge vacancies. Regarding the development of a hiring strategy, EOIR stated that it recognizes the importance of assessing immigration judge hiring needs holistically to continue to develop an overall immigration judge hiring strategy, and will utilize a planned human capital strategy and additional data to further refine the hiring process. To fully address this recommendation, EOIR should continue its efforts to assess and improve its hiring process and provide documentation describing: 1) its new hiring process, including how EOIR assessed the prior hiring process to identify opportunities for efficiency; 2) its hiring strategy targeting short- and long-term human capital needs; and (3) the corrective actions EOIR implemented in response to the assessment results, such as eliminating procedures that increased the length of the hiring process.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that EOIR meets its cost and schedule expectations for EOIR Courts and Appeals Systems (ECAS), the EOIR Director should identify and establish the appropriate entity for exercising oversight over ECAS through full implementation.

    Agency: Department of Justice: Executive Office for Immigration Review
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of August 2017, EOIR reported that it had selected the EOIR Investment Review Board to serve as the ECAS oversight body with the Office of Information Technology (OIT) directly responsible for the management of the ECAS program. To fully address this recommendation, EOIR should provide documentation related to this decision.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that EOIR meets its cost and schedule expectations for ECAS, the EOIR Director should document and implement an oversight plan that is consistent with best practices for overseeing IT projects, including (1) establishing how the oversight body is to monitor program performance and progress toward expected cost, schedule, and benefits; (2) ensuring that corrective actions are identified and assigned to the appropriate parties at the first sign of cost, schedule, or performance slippages; and (3) ensuring that corrective actions are tracked until the desired outcomes are achieved.

    Agency: Department of Justice: Executive Office for Immigration Review
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of August 2017, EOIR reported that it had selected the EOIR Investment Review Board to serve as the ECAS oversight body with the Office of Information Technology (OIT) directly responsible for the management of the ECAS program. According to EOIR, OIT will record on a weekly basis all financial metrics, risks, issues, and corrective actions in EOIR's project management tool, as well as regularly evaluating the program's performance and progress and immediately implementing any needed corrective actions. To fully address this recommendation, EOIR should document and implement an oversight plan that describes how the EOIR Investment Review Board and OIT will oversee the full implementation of ECAS, including how these bodies will, consistent with best practices for overseeing IT projects: 1) monitor program performance and progress toward expected cost, schedule, and benefits; (2) ensure that corrective actions are identified and assigned to the appropriate parties at the first sign of cost, schedule, or performance slippages; and (3) ensure that corrective actions are tracked until the desired outcomes are achieved.
    Recommendation: To provide further assurance that EOIR's use of video teleconference (VTC) in immigration hearings is outcome-neutral, the Director of EOIR should collect more complete and reliable data on the number and type of hearings it conducts through VTC.

    Agency: Department of Justice: Executive Office for Immigration Review
    Status: Open

    Comments: In August 2017, EOIR stated that it is studying how to collect more complete and reliable data on the number and type of hearings it conducts through video teleconference (VTC). To fully address this recommendation, once EOIR determines how to collect more complete and reliable VTC hearing data, EOIR should provide documentation describing its approach and evidence of its implementation.
    Recommendation: To provide further assurance that EOIR's use of VTC in immigration hearings is outcome-neutral, the Director of EOIR should collect data on appeals in which the use of VTC formed some basis for the appeal, and the number of in-person hearing motions filed.

    Agency: Department of Justice: Executive Office for Immigration Review
    Status: Open

    Comments: In August 2017, EOIR stated that it is planning a pilot project to collect data on the number and type of appeals to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) in which the use of video teleconference (VTC) formed an element of the basis for the appeal. EOIR expects to begin this 6-month pilot project in the first quarter of fiscal year 2018. Additionally, EOIR stated that it will assess the feasibility of collecting data on the number of filed motions requesting an in-person hearing instead of a VTC hearing. To fully address this recommendation, EOIR should continue these efforts and begin systematically collecting data on appeals in which the use of VTC formed some basis for the appeal and the number of in-person hearing motions filed.
    Recommendation: To provide further assurance that EOIR's use of VTC in immigration hearings is outcome-neutral, the Director of EOIR should use these and other data to assess any effects of VTC on immigration hearings and, as appropriate, address any issues identified through such an assessment.

    Agency: Department of Justice: Executive Office for Immigration Review
    Status: Open

    Comments: In August 2017, EOIR stated that it intends to analyze data on appeals in which the use of VTC formed some basis for the appeal from the Board of Immigration Appeals' pilot program as well as other data to further assess any effects of video teleconference (VTC) usage on immigration hearings. To fully address this recommendation, EOIR should, pending the results of the pilot program, use these and other data to assess any effects of VTC on immigration hearings and, as appropriate, address any issues identified through such an assessment.
    Recommendation: To further ensure that EOIR's VTC hearings meet all user needs and help EOIR identify and address technical issues with VTC hearings, the Director of EOIR should develop and implement a mechanism to solicit and monitor feedback from respondents regarding their satisfaction and experiences with VTC hearings, including the audio and visual quality of the hearing.

    Agency: Department of Justice: Executive Office for Immigration Review
    Status: Open

    Comments: In August 2017, EOIR stated that it partially agreed with this recommendation and would create a mechanism to solicit open-ended feedback from respondents regarding their satisfaction and experience with video teleconference (VTC) hearings, including the audio and visual quality of the hearing. EOIR reported that it is exploring and expects to implement some options by the first quarter of fiscal year 2018, such as a feedback portal on the EOIR website, a dedicated e-mail box, or a comment card for distribution to respondents at immigration courts and detention centers where VTC hearings are held. To fully address this recommendation, EOIR should continue to explore and implement a mechanism to solicit and monitor feedback from respondents regarding their satisfaction and experiences with VTC hearings, including the audio and visual quality of the hearing.
    Recommendation: To better assess court performance and use data to identify potential management challenges, the Director of EOIR should establish and monitor comprehensive case completion goals, including a goal for completing non-detained cases not currently captured by performance measures, and goals for cases it considers a priority.

    Agency: Department of Justice: Executive Office for Immigration Review
    Status: Open

    Comments: In August 2017, EOIR stated that it agrees that the agency should measure case completions in all categories and is evaluating the best way to measure its courts' performance to improve efficiency and productivity. Additionally, EOIR reported that it is working with the immigration judges' union to conduct this assessment and expects to complete this evaluation and begin working toward making any changes to its performance assessment system by the second quarter of fiscal year 2018. To fully address this recommendation, EOIR should continue these efforts and establish and monitor comprehensive case completion goals, including a goal for completing non-detained cases not currently captured by performance measures, and goals for cases it considers a priority.
    Recommendation: To better assess court performance and use data to identify potential management challenges, the Director of EOIR should systematically analyze immigration court continuance data to identify and address any operational challenges faced by courts or areas for additional guidance or training.

    Agency: Department of Justice: Executive Office for Immigration Review
    Status: Open

    Comments: In August 2017, EOIR stated that it will further analyze continuance data to identify and address operational challenges as well as determine areas where immigration judges might benefit from additional guidance or training on the use of continuances. EOIR plans to prepare new reports assessing continuance data by the first quarter of fiscal year 2018. Additionally, EOIR reported that it anticipates releasing a new Operating Policies and Procedures Memorandum addressing the appropriate use of continuances in August 2017. To fully address this recommendation, EOIR should continue to systematically analyze continuance data to identify any operational challenges faced by courts or areas for additional guidance or training, and address any challenges through taking actions such as issuing the new memorandum on continuances.
    Recommendation: To better assess court performance and use data to identify potential management challenges, the Director of EOIR should update policies and procedures to ensure the timely and accurate recording of Notices to Appear.

    Agency: Department of Justice: Executive Office for Immigration Review
    Status: Open

    Comments: In August 2017, EOIR stated that it partially agreed with this recommendation and will continue to monitor the timeliness and accuracy of NTA recording and implement corrective actions as needed. Additionally, EOIR stated that it will explore the need to create new guidance for immigration court staff to address instances where EOIR exceeds average recording times timeframes in the future. To fully implement this recommendation, EOIR should update its policies and procedures to better ensure the timely and accurate recording of NTAs, and thus provide greater assurance that EOIR's case management data are accurate, including case completion times and the size of its case backlog.
    Director: Rebecca Gambler
    Phone: (202) 512-8777

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better assess whether the LOP and LOPC are having a measurable impact in meeting their program objectives, the Director of EOIR should develop and implement a system of performance measures, including establishing a baseline, to regularly evaluate the effectiveness of LOP and LOPC and assess whether the programs are achieving their stated goals.

    Agency: Department of Justice: Executive Office for Immigration Review
    Status: Open

    Comments: In January 2017, EOIR reported that the agency is working with a contractor to redesign EOIR's performance management system consistent with the principles outlined in the Government Performance and Results Modernization Act of 2010. In addition, EOIR reported that staff from its Office of Legal Access Programs (OLAP) plan to participate in strategic planning training, which will include how to establish performance measurements. To fully address the recommendation, EOIR should develop and implement a system of performance measures for LOP and LOPC, including establishing a baseline, and assess program performance against such measures.
    Director: Seto Bagdoyan
    Phone: (202) 512-6722

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To strengthen USCIS's EB-5 Program fraud risk management, the Director of USCIS should develop a fraud risk profile that aligns with leading practices identified in GAO's Fraud Risk Framework.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: United States Citizenship and Immigration Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: In November 2016, Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)stated that the program would implement GAO's recommendation to develop a fraud risk profile and anticipated completion by September 30, 2017. In April 2017, USCIS provided an update including supporting documentation which reported that USCIS had contracted with an outside consultant to, among other things, develop a fraud risk profile that aligns with leading practices identified in GAO's Fraud Risk Framework. According to its response, USCIS expected to complete development of the profile by September 30, 2017.
    Director: Gambler, Rebecca S
    Phone: (202) 512-8777

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To strengthen USCIS's EB-5 Program fraud prevention, detection, and mitigation capabilities, and to more accurately and comprehensively assess and report program outcomes and the overall economic benefits of the program, the Director of USCIS should plan and conduct regular future fraud risk assessments of the EB-5 Program.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: United States Citizenship and Immigration Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is responsible for administering the Employment-Based Fifth Preference Immigrant Investor Program (EB-5 Program). In 2015, we reviewed the EB-5 program to determine if USCIS assesses fraud and other related risks facing the program. We found that USCIS had collaborated with its interagency partners to assess fraud and national security risks in the program in fiscal years 2012 and 2015 but that these assessments were onetime efforts that did not have documented plans to conduct regular future risk assessments, in accordance with fraud prevention practices, which could help inform efforts to identify and address evolving program risks. To strengthen the program's fraud prevention, detection, and mitigation capabilities, we recommended that USCIS plan and conduct regular future fraud risk assessments. USCIS concurred with the recommendation, stating that it will continue to conduct at least one fraud, national security, or intelligence assessment on an aspect of the program annually. In September 2015, USCIS stated that the Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate unit of its Immigrant Investor Program (IPO) will conduct its next fraud, national security, and intelligence assessment in FY 2016 and one assessment annually thereafter. In an August 2016 update, USCIS stated that it had conducted a national security assessment, the draft of which was under review by management, to be finalized by September 30, 2016. We will continue to monitor USCIS's efforts to ensure that the agency finalizes this assessment and documents plans to conduct future fraud assessments on a regular basis.
    Recommendation: To strengthen USCIS's EB-5 Program fraud prevention, detection, and mitigation capabilities, and to more accurately and comprehensively assess and report program outcomes and the overall economic benefits of the program, the Director of USCIS should develop a strategy to expand information collection, including considering the increased use of interviews at the I-829 phase as well as requiring the additional reporting of information in applicant and petitioner forms.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: United States Citizenship and Immigration Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: In 2015, we evaluated the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Employment-Based Fifth Preference Immigrant Investor Program (EB-5 Program) to determine the extent to which the agency had addressed any identified fraud risks in the program. We found that USCIS had identified unique fraud risks in the program and had taken certain steps to address and enhance its fraud risk management efforts, including establishing a dedicated entity to oversee these efforts. However, we found that USCIS's information systems and processes limited its ability to collect and use data on EB-5 Program participants to comprehensively address fraud risks in the program. To strengthen the program's fraud mitigation capabilities, we recommended that USCIS develop a strategy to expand information collection, including considering the increased use of interviews at the application for permanent residency (form I-829) phase as well as requiring the additional reporting of information in applicant and petitioner forms. USCIS concurred with the recommendation, stating that IPO will develop a strategy to enhance and expand information collection, including publishing revised EB-5 application and petition forms, and considering the use of interviews. In a September 2015 update to this recommendation, USCIS stated that it had begun internal discussions for developing a comprehensive strategy to incorporate interviews into various stages of the EB-5 process, including the I-829 phase. In addition, USCIS was implementing a comprehensive approach for revising all EB-5 specific forms (I-526, I-924, and I-924A) to improve program integrity and data collection. USCIS expects the revised forms to be available after December 31, 2015. In an August 2016 update, USCIS stated that it has revised Forms I-924, I-924A, and I-526, and anticipated revising Forms I-924 and I-924A by November 2016 and Form I-829 by March 2017. USCIS also stated that IPO had initiated a new process to allow interview of Form I-829 petitioners by video conference, and planned to develop a comprehensive interview strategy based on the results of initial and future interviews as well as other relevant information. We will continue to monitor USCIS's efforts to develop and implement this more comprehensive EB-5 data collection strategy.
    Recommendation: To strengthen USCIS's EB-5 Program fraud prevention, detection, and mitigation capabilities, and to more accurately and comprehensively assess and report program outcomes and the overall economic benefits of the program, the Director of USCIS should track and report data that immigrant investors report, and the agency verifies on its program forms for total investments and jobs created through the EB-5 Program.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: United States Citizenship and Immigration Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: In 2015, we evaluated the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)'s capacity to verify job creation and to use a valid and reliable methodology to report the economic benefits of its Employment-Based Fifth Preference Immigrant Investor Program (EB-5 Program). We found that over time USCIS had increased its capacity to verify job creation by increasing the size and expertise of its workforce and by providing clarifying guidance and training, among other actions. However, we found that USCIS's methodology for reporting program outcomes and overall economic benefits of the EB-5 Program was not valid and reliable because it may understate or overstate program benefits in certain instances as it was based on the minimum program requirements of 10 jobs and a $500,000 investment per investor, instead of the number of jobs and investment amounts collected by USCIS on individual EB-5 Program forms. To more accurately and comprehensively assess and report the overall economic benefits of the program, we recommended that USCIS track and report data that immigrant investors report, and the agency verifies on its program forms for total investments and jobs created. USCIS concurred with this recommendation, stating that IPO will develop a plan to collect and aggregate additional data regarding EB-5 investment amounts and job creation, including revising USCIS data systems and processes, as appropriate. In a September 2015 update, USCIS further stated that IPO officials had already met with officials from the USCIS Office of information Technology (OIT) on August 25, 2015, to discuss EB-5 data requirements, and that IPO is reviewing the fields in the Intranet Computer Linked Application Information Management System (iCLAIMS) database used for maintaining EB-5 and other immigration program data, to define data entry requirements. Once that is completed, USCIS stated that IPO will work with OIT to discuss any system changes needed to reliably aggregate data regarding EB-5 program investment amounts and job creation. In an August 2016 update, USCIS stated that through regular meetings with OIT, IPO has identified the assets needed to develop a case management system to meet the complex data needs of the EB-5 program. This system, which will be compatible with USCIS's electronic immigration system, is tentatively projected to be completed in FY 2017. We will continue to monitor USCIS's efforts to develop a system that will enable it to accurately and comprehensively assess and report the overall economic benefits of the program.