USCIS “processing delays” may sound like something minor, but delays mean families struggling to make ends meet, survivors of violence, and those in danger back home face an uncertain future. Notably, U.S. businesses are falling behind, losing talent to overseas competitors.
- Case processing times increased substantially in fiscal year 2018 even as the volume of new filings appear to have markedly decreased.
- USCIS processed 94 percent of its form types—from green cards for family members to visas for human trafficking victims to petitions for immigrant workers—more slowly in 2018 than in 2014.
- The overall average case processing time lengthened by 46 percent over the past two fiscal years and 91 percent since 2014.
- There was a USCIS “net backlog” exceeding 2.3 million delayed cases at the end of 2017. This amounts to more than a 100 percent increase over a one-year span despite just a four percent rise in case receipts during that same period.
New policies and practices may be responsible for a spike in processing delays. There seems to be unnecessary interview requirements and Requests for Evidence that drive down efficiency and increase delays. I’ve been an attorney for 28 years and can easily notice when the USCIS takes appropriate steps or wastes energy. Wasted energy as opposed to needed rigor is more prevalent now.
The USCIS is a user-paid system, which means that customers pay fees for services. Tax payors do not foot the bill. As such, the USCIS collects money from customers for case processing, but then neglects to process the case. It’s the equivalent of paying for a cheeseburger in a restaurant, then waiting three hours before it’s brought to your table with no cheese. Irritating, right? Where are the employees?
Congress meant for USCIS to function as a service-oriented benefits entity—one that efficiently and fairly processes immigration cases. The word “service” is lacking. It seems the USCIS is failing its congressional mandate.