Chicago Law Office of Christine Contreras

USCIS Updates for 2020: Status of Processing Delays, New Forms for E-filing, Increased Fees

If we had to characterize the handling of standard immigration-related applications during the Trump administration, we would have to say that it has been a boondoggle of delays, increased fees, and general uncertainty. Some of this may be intentional, because a system of immigration that patrons cannot trust ultimately discourages participation. Here are the issues going on right now that you should be aware of.

Processing Delays

Delays in the application process for anything not specifically expedited are significantly longer now than they have been in the past. According to one source, five years ago an average case took about five months to process, while by fiscal year 2018, that same applicant waited nearly 10 months. This means applicants have to undergo months of uncertainty and potential separation from their family members.

Another startling statistic is that USCIS data shows that USCIS’s average processing time rose by 19 percent from FY2017 to FY2018, even while overall numbers of case receipts declined by 13 percent during that same period.

Higher Fees

Immigration advocates are also concerned about the recent increases in fees for immigration applications and other related services. In some cases, these fees are going up by more than 50%, which is an interesting decision considering that many immigrant families in this country already live on a tight budget. Ultimately, this decision may have an effect on the rate of applications for citizenship and other immigration benefits.

E-filing of More Forms

One glimmer of light on the horizon has been USCIS’s willingness to accept more e-filed forms, thereby expediting the application process. Most recently, as of October 2019, Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, can now be filed online.

Other forms that are accepted online are:

  • Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card
  • Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status
  • Form N-336, Request for a Hearing on a Decision in Naturalization Proceedings
  • Form N-400, Application for Naturalization
  • Form N-565, Application for Replacement Naturalization/Citizenship Document
  • Form N-600, Application for Certificate of Citizenship
  • Form N-600K, Application for Citizenship and Issuance of Certificate Under Section 322

Online filing allows aliens to submit forms electronically, check the status of their case, and receive notices from USCIS. As a reminder, the option to e-file these forms does not mean that applicants should now attempt to fill them out themselves. In the current, complicated immigration climate, a qualified immigration attorney can make a huge difference in the odds of an application being accepted. Reach out to us if you have any questions!