Have you ever googled “USCIS backlog”?
The results are full of stories, reports, and policy announcements that we already know - the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) agency is woefully behind on processing cases.
We recognize that many of you know this because you are living it - our U visa clients currently have an estimated wait time of over five years, while even our simpler cases such as green card applications and naturalizations are estimated to take 16 months to process. Work permits are taking upwards of one year, even though it takes just 12 minutes to actually process an EAD application once it is on the right person's desk at USCIS.
Although at times the backlog at USCIS feels like ‘business as usual,' in the last three years the amount of petitions backlogged has doubled, from 2.7 million to over 5 million. That is out of 8.5 million pending petitions at USCIS as of April 2022. That is A LOT of families impacted, and legislative offices are starting to notice. Contacting a Congressperson's office for immigration help used to be a last resort, something to be done in an emergency matter. But today it is increasingly used in cases because of excessive wait times, for example where people filed their work permit renewals in timely manners, yet are about to lose their jobs because USCIS has failed to respond in the regular course. Many members of Congress now say the bulk of their constituent calls are regarding immigration.
It's hard to know what to do in these situations. In many other industries a walkout or boycott can help initiate change, but that doesn't work in government. We need USCIS to succeed, for our own success. USCIS has announced they are attempting to make changes to reduce the backlog. Although we are living in the digital age, almost all USCIS are currently filed by paper. Currently 12 USCIS petitions are available to file online on the USCIS website, and the agency has plans to make all USCIS petitions available for online processing by the end of fiscal year 2026.
As Nathaniel Branden once said, “The first step towards change is awareness, the second step is acceptance.” For now we are glad that USCIS is aware of the challenges being faced, and we will continue to watch for what steps they take to cure the defects that seem to be so readily obvious.
If you have questions about obtaining immigration help please reach out to us at (757) 422-8472, or send us a message on our website. You can also schedule an appointment with one of our attorneys by clicking on this link.