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Report on the Operations of the VAWA at the USCIS Vermont Service Center

Executive Summary of Report to Congress, October 22, 2010

This report fulfills the requirement set forth in Section 238 of the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 (TVPRA 2008) (P.L. 110-457) that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) report on the operations of the specially-trained Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Unit at the Vermont Service Center (VSC) no later than six months after passage of the TVPRA.

The following are the principal conclusions of the report:

° The VSC, through its specialized VAWA Unit, is the sole service center that adjudicates petitions pertaining to VAWA special immigrants and applications and petitions pertaining to T and U nonimmigrant status.

° The VAWA Unit historically has demonstrated a higher degree of staff seniority within USCIS and has a lower rate of staff turnover than other units at VSC. Staff members assigned to the VAWA Unit generally remain with the unit unless and until reassigned at the request of the employee or due to promotion.

° The VAWA Unit has grown in size to reduce processing times and accommodate new workloads, including adjustment of status requests by T and U nonimmigrants. Recently, the VAWA Unit doubled the number of adjudicators assigned to U nonimmigrant status requests and has shown significant progress in reducing the backlog of pending U nonimmigrant cases.

° Members of the VAWA Unit undergo rigorous initial training, and the training regimen is significantly more thorough and of greater duration than in other product lines at VSC. Initial training is followed by a lengthy period of mentorship of newer officers by more senior adjudicators.

° Initial training is augmented by frequent in-house meetings, training sessions, and conferences at VSC and by conferences featuring policy updates from Headquarters personnel and technical expertise from advocacy organizations.

° The VAWA Unit benefits from frequent consultation and continuous operational and policy-related dialogue with USCIS Headquarters units, including the Office of Chief Counsel, Office of Policy and Strategy, and Office of Service Center Operations. This includes an ongoing monthly conference call between the VAWA Unit and VSC management and the aforementioned Headquarters offices.

Read the entire report here.