It's no secret that USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) is notoriously behind on processing thousands of immigration applications.
Last year USCIS director Ur M. Jaddou held a virtual public engagement with nearly 2,000 stakeholders nationwide to discuss “the agency's efforts to reduce backlogs and improve processing times.” The discussion expanded on USCIS's announced actions to reduce backlogs by establishing new cycle time goals, expanding premium processing, and improving access to Education Authorization Documents. In February of this year USCIS released a report stating an improvement in its backlog rates, but the case processing times on the USCIS website still list multiple year waiting periods for certain immigration petitions.
Recognizing it needs to do more, USCIS has opened a first of its kind processing center - the HART Service Center - called such for the types of petitions it will process, Humanitarian, Adjustments, Removing Conditions, and Travel Documents.
According to the USCIS announcement, the HART Service Center will process both digital and paper-based applications and petitions and will partner with existing service centers to provide needed support. Unlike other USCIS service centers, the HART Service Center will operate virtually, with staff spread across multiple time zones.
While in its initial phase of operation, the HART Service Center will focus on the following types of petitions:
- Form I-601A, Application for Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver;
- Bona Fide Determination (BFD) for Form I-918, Petition for U Nonimmigrant Status;
- Form I-730, Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition; and
- VAWA-based Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant.
Combined those four applications currently have a waiting period of 12.5 years, broken up as follows:
- I-601A Waivers: 36 - 43 Months
- I-918 U Visas: 59 - 60 months
- I-730 Relative Petitions: 13 - 22.5 months
- VAWA Form I-360: 33 months
We hope this is especially hopeful for our clients who have been waiting multiple years. Although it's hard to tell how quickly processing times will change, the HART Service Center is definitely a step in the right direction.
If you have questions about applying for an immigration petition 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.