Many immigrants know the United States is known as an ideal country to move to. The lifestyles and employment opportunities present there are desired by many and the United States receives numerous immigration applications every year. However, many of these applicants have to wait a long time for their applications to get processed.
Due to the excess application and a slow process, there is a massive backlog in the immigration system.
The Biden Administration recently announced that new steps would be taken to effectively deal with this backlog and reduce these applicants’ processing and wait time.
Why is there Such a Huge Backlog?
Currently, thousands of green cards are not being utilized. Despite being authorized for administration by the Congress, many have not been issued due to various administrative delays. This problem dates as far back as 1992.
The recent COVID-19 pandemic worsened the already huge backlog. Since there were travel restrictions, many applicants could not come in for their interviews and application process. Additionally, a hiring freeze at the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) further slowed down the administrative procedures.
Implications of This Backlog
The overall application processing times have increased by an astounding 25% in the past few years. As of February 2022, the backlog had risen from 5.7 million to 9.5 million applications by the end of Fiscal Year 2019.
Due to the delays in the application process and reception of green cards and work permits, many immigrants cannot work.
According to green card lawyer Brandon Ritchie of Ritchie Reiersen Injury & Immigration Attorneys, “There are many consequences to these delays. Many people need their green cards and visas to get a permanent job here. Without the right documents, their jobs and livelihoods are in jeopardy.”
What Are The New Measures?
Multiple steps have been proposed. USCIS hopes to achieve its internal cycle time goals by September 2023.
First and foremost, its main goal is to tackle the staffing issue that arose in the pandemic. To supplement this, the USCIS plans to modernize and use more technology to hasten the process. These steps will streamline the process a bit more and hopefully reduce the wait time for applicants.
Another major step that the USCIS announced is that the premium processing would apply to more form types. In this, the applicants had the option to pay between $1,500 and $2,500 in additional fees to expedite their applications. However, this was only available to limited people, such as those filing Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, and certain employment-based immigrant visa petitioners filing Form I-140.
But now, with the new measures that will be applicable in 60 days, more immigrants will be able to apply for premium processing. It will be helpful for multinational executives, managers, and those requesting to extend or change temporary immigration status.
The final step is that there will be an increase in the automatic extension period for work permit renewals. This will help many immigrants who are currently unable to work as they have to wait for their work permits to get renewed. Work permits are generally valid for two years, but upon renewal application by the visa holder, there is an automatic extension for 180 days.
However, due to the slow process, many have to wait somewhere near ten months to renew the work permit, which is much longer than the extension. Due to this discrepancy, there will be an increase in the extension time.