Effective November 26, 2018, USCIS is no longer accepting walk-in requests or scheduling InfoPass appointments for New Jersey. As we wrote in earlier blog, this is all part of a national initiative to transition to the new Information Services Modernization Program. Under the new protocol, individuals will first have to call a USCIS Contact Center at 1-800-375-5283 to conduct their query. Representatives will supposedly be available Monday through Friday from 8am to 9pm, eastern time except during federal holidays.
Just last week, USCIS announced that it will be expanding its Information Services Modernization Program to several major district offices. During the first quarter of next year (2019), it is expected that Newark will be among the first batch, with eventually all remaining field offices implementing the protocol by the end of the year.
Many people are reporting that they have been unable to book INFOPASS appointments to visit their local USCIS offices. For the last several weeks, no appointments appear to be available. For individuals who have prepared their cases pro se, this can be incredibly frustrating given that an INFOPASS appointment is often the only way for a person to visit USCIS, whether to learn more information about why a case is pending; apply for emergency advance parole; or to secure an I-551 stamp-just to name a few situations. Now to make matters worse, there is word that USCIS will begin rolling out a new pilot program in January, starting with the Hartford District Office. Under the new program, individuals will no longer be able to self-schedule INFOPASS appointments over the internet. Instead, people will be required to call the national customer service phone number (800-375-5283) and explain the nature of their call to a representative. If appropriate, the call will be escalated to a "tier 2" rep who will determine whether an appointment should be given and who will then call the requester back to inform him/her whether an appointment is being granted. The rationale, allegedly, is to streamline the process and eliminate situations where people are coming in for matters that can be handled through the customer service telephone system. According to sources, the pilot program will increase one city per week.