July 5, 2020

Volume X, Number 187

July 03, 2020

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July 02, 2020

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Growing USCIS Processing Backlog Continues into New Year

USCIS is starting the year with a growing backlog of processing delays.

In May 2019, a bi-partisan group of Senators wrote to USCIS requesting information on why the service-oriented agency adjudicating immigration benefits, such as work authorization, is disrupting American businesses through administrative inefficiencies.

Here are some of the facts:

  • For FY 2018, the gross backlog at USCIS reached 5,591,839, representing a 69% increase since 2014 and a 29% increase since 2016;

  • Case completion per hour rates declined for 81% of benefit types between FY 2016 and FY 2018; and

  • Case completion rates for Form I-129 petitions dropped from 0.97 per hour to 0.64 per hour.

This translates into the following processing times (for non-premium processed cases) averaged across USCIS Service Centers as of September 30, 2019:

Nonimmigrant Visa Petition (I-129)                           3.7 months

Application for Advance Parole (initial)                   4.5 months

Application for Advance Parole (renewal)             10.3 months

Immigrant Visa Petition (I-140)                                  5.3 months

Employment-Based Adjustment (I-485)                 9.5 months

Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status (I-539)       4 months

Employment Authorization (I-765)                            4.5 months

Naturalization (I-400)                                                     9.9 months

Waivers (excluding I-601A)                                          31.6 months

Some of the Administration’s new policies that have led to these increased processing times include the dramatic increase in Requests for Evidence (now at least 60% for H-1B cases alone), increased length and complexity of forms, increased security checks, and the I-485 in-person interview requirement for all employment-based petitions. If the new Public Charge rule goes into effect, it is expected to further increase processing times overall because of the complex calculations that will be required.

At the end of May 2019, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) agreed to analyze the USCIS backlog. At that time, the GAO said that it would take at least five months to gather a team to do this work. 

Jackson Lewis P.C. © 2020National Law Review, Volume X, Number 3

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About this Author

Sean G. Hanagan, Jackson Lewis, business immigration lawyer, employment eligibility verification attorney
Principal

Sean G. Hanagan is a Principal in the White Plains, New York, office of Jackson Lewis P.C.

Working with human resources professionals and in-house counsel, he helps employers develop business solutions and policies for the hire and movement of international staff. Mr. Hanagan advises on I-9 employment eligibility verification, E-Verify and social security issues, and on best practices to avoid hiring-related discrimination. He defends companies subject to government audits and investigations, and guides employers through...

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