Increased Processing Times of Immigration Applications Under the Trump Administration
Why is my immigration application taking so long?
Under the Trump administration, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has significantly lengthened the processing time of immigrant applications, creating a backlog of millions of applications. These delays impact the lives of countless people seeking family-based benefits, employment authorization or employment-based benefits, naturalization, or travel documents, as well as applicants’ families and employers.
According to the American Immigration Lawyers Association’s analysis of recent USCIS data, the average case processing time for all application types has risen by 46 percent since Fiscal Year (FY) 2016. In FY2018 alone, a shocking 94 percent of all immigration petitions and applications had longer process times in comparison to FY2014. Notably, processing times have increased even in years where the number of new applications has declined.
Although many factors may delay an immigration application, the Trump administration’s policies and protocols bear significant responsibility for the increased backlog. For example, one new policy requires all employment-based green card applicants and their family members to have in-person interviews, a policy that floods local offices with more time-consuming work. Another policy requires USCIS officials to conduct a duplicate review of past decisions, again increasing agency workload and, worse, grave inconsistencies in adjudication of cases.
What’s being done about the problem?
The AILA describes the application backlog as reaching “crisis levels.” Families are being kept apart and suffering financial distress, people seeking refuge from danger are left exposed, and many U.S. businesses face uncertainty as foreign talent remains in immigration limbo for a year or longer.
Some immigration attorneys and their clients are turning to the courts for help in resolving this backlog. Congress created the USCIS to help efficiently process immigration-related applications and petitions, and the current slow processing times are making a mockery of its mission. Some attorneys are filing complaints against the agency to demand answers for their clients and force the USCIS to act per their mandate.
What can I do to expedite the process?
If you or a loved one have filed an immigration-related petition or application with the USCIS, and believe you have waited an unreasonable amount of time for a response, I recommend contacting me or another experienced immigration lawyer. I can help you through this process as quickly and efficiently as possible, or determine another course of action for getting the answer you need and deserve. I’ve worked with clients around the world to help make the immigration process smoother and less confusing, and I’d like to help you, too.