The big news this month is continuing delays of application processing at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), according to an annual report by the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman.
In short, backlogs right now are the worst USCIS has seen in its history. The report states,
“adjudication backlogs have never been this systemic nor this significant. The perfect storm of decreases in resources, increases in filings, and the physical limitations imposed by the pandemic has resulted in longer processing times for virtually every product line handled by the agency.
[This] has significant “snowball” effects. Each delayed application creates a need for workarounds to mitigate the delay’s impact, resulting in these individuals seeking expedites, applying for additional benefits to bridge the gap created by the backlog, and generally dealing with the effects of the lack of action. For the individual filer, the pain is immediate and often severe: lost jobs and the benefits attached to them (both temporary and permanent), lost societal benefits such as driver’s licenses, lost safety net benefits, and similar losses—to say nothing of the anxiety, stress, and depression they experience.”
These delays also have a compounding effect, because the agency then has to field multiple inquiries from the same individual about their application status. While the report outlines some recommendations for moving forward and improving processing times, the issues are likely to continue unless the agency receives an influx of funding for hiring new staff.
If you have personally been affected by these delays, please contact me to discuss your case. And, if you are just now thinking about filing an application related to your immigration status, consult with me so we can figure out the most efficient way to move forward considering the delays that can be expected.