AILA Asks: Why Is Your Case Taking So Long? USCIS Processing Delays Have Now Hit Crisis Levels
Advocacy group and professional organization American Immigration Lawyer's Association (AILA) recently published a guide on the increased processing times for USCIS applications filed via regular processing. As you may have experienced firsthand, processng times for nonimmigrant applications like H-1B extensions and EAD applications, and immigrant applications such as I-485 adjustments have exceeded several months, and in many cases more than a year. The delay in timely adjudication has placed applicants in a bind; grace periods for continued work authorization are capped at 240 days, while filing an EAD extension six months before expiration may not guarantee continued work authorization without interruption. Moreover, premium processing is not an option for all types of applications, can be suspended, and requires substantial additional fees.
According to AILA, "five years ago, an average case was taking about five months to process. By Fiscal Year (FY) 2018, that same applicant waited nearly 10 months... In FY2018, a staggering 94 percent of all immigration petitions and application form types took longer to process when compared to FY2014."
Reasosns for increased processing times appear to be related in large part to new policies at USCIS supported by the Trump administration designed to make the legal immigration process more dififcult. "For example, one policy requires USCIS officers to conduct duplicate reviews of past decisions, adding unnecessary work to each case." Policies such as this promote a culture of uncertainty and distrust within and outside of the Service Center, while increasing inefficiency. Fewer corporations and potential employees are filing cases because of unfair and uncertain policies, yet while overall application rates decreased from FY2017 to FY2018 by 13 percent, processing time rose by 19 percent.
At ILG, we make it a priority to keep you informed of processing times so that you can set your expectations while being prepared for possible delays. You can monitor the progress of your case through our INS Zoom portal, or through visiting the USCIS processing times homepage, which are conveniently located in the Resources section of our site.
For more information on how you can take action to hold USCIS accountable, please visit www.aila.org/takeaction.