How to speed up the processing of your immigration application: USCIS approved three new ways - ForumDaily
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How to speed up the processing of your immigration application: USCIS approved three new ways

The Biden administration on March 29 announced three measures to reduce the growing multimillion-dollar volume of immigration applications that undermine the US government's ability to process them in a timely manner. CBS.

Photo: Shutterstock

US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) plans to expand number of applicants who can pay additional fees for faster processing of their immigration petitions, propose a rule that will make life easier for immigrants waiting for work permit renewals, and set processing time targets, the official said when asking for anonymity.

As of February, USCIS was processing more than 9,5 million pending applications, up 66% from the end of fiscal year 2019, according to USCIS.

A rising backlog of cases has led to a surge in application processing delays, leaving many immigrants—from asylum seekers and green card applicants to potential U.S. citizens—trapped in legal uncertainty for months or years due to for which they can lose their job, driver's license. licenses and sources of income.

“USCIS remains committed to making timely and fair decisions for everyone we serve,” USCIS Director Ur Jaddu said March 29. “Every application we review reflects the hopes and dreams of immigrants and their families, as well as their immediate immediate needs, such as financial stability and humanitarian protection.”

New measures

Among the new USCIS measures is the rule to expand "premium processing”, which allows some applicants to pay additional fees of $2500 for expedited processing of their cases.

The service is currently only available to applicants filing Form I-129 Petition for Nonimmigrant Workers and certain immigrant worker visa applicants filing Form I-140 Petition for Foreign Workers.

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This final rule expands the categories of forms that are ultimately eligible for premium processing services, including Form I-539, Application to Renew/Change Nonimmigrant Status; Form I-765, Work Permit Application; and additional classifications on Form I-140.

The rule, which will take effect in 60 days, will expand the premium processing of additional employment-based green card applications, all work permit applications, and requests to extend temporary immigration status, allowing applicants to pay $2500 to have their cases processed within 45 days.

Premium processing will expand gradually, starting with green card petitions for executives or managers and professionals with advanced degrees or “exceptional ability.” They will be able to immigrate to the US without a job offer, which is usually required.

A senior USCIS official said the phased rollout ensures other applications are not delayed due to an expansion in bonus processing that was mandated by Congress in 2020 when USCIS faced a financial crisis that threatened to lay off 13 employees.

“We can’t just divert all of our resources to premium applications while everyone else is suffering,” the official said.

USCIS is also promulgating another rule to provide temporary assistance to immigrants affected by work permit delays, according to a senior official, by extension of the work permit period for those applying for an extension. This rule was recently submitted to the White House for consideration.

Currently, most work permit holders who apply for renewal are eligible for an automatic 180-day renewal if their work permit expires. However, many immigrants wait longer to renew their work permit, often more than 10 months, USCIS data shows.

A full list of preliminary actions taken by USCIS to reduce processing times and pending USCIS cases is available at website.

“We regularly fail to rule on these renewals, not only on the expiration date, but on those 180 days after expiration,” a USCIS spokesman said.

The third USCIS measure includes hiring more social workers and improving processing technology to comply new deadlines for consideration of applications, which it can achieve by September 2023. According to USCIS, there are currently several thousand job openings at USCIS.

USCIS will instruct social workers to review requests for temporary work programs, such as H-1B and H-2A visas for farm workers, within two months. Requests for work permits, travel documents, and temporary extensions or status changes must be processed within three months.

Under the new processing rules, USCIS staff must review other applications, including applications for US citizenship, DACA renewals, and green card requests for immigrants sponsored by US family members or employers, within six months.

“It is quite unprecedented for the director of USCIS to say to the entire agency, to all the staff: “Our processing time is too long, this prevents us from fulfilling our mission, and therefore here are the goals that USCIS is going to solve. pursue and is going to reach them,” a USCIS spokesman said.

"You always worry"

Jairo Humana, a Nicaraguan political dissident seeking asylum in the US, has been waiting for his work permit to be renewed for almost a year. Because his permit has expired, he works as a roofer in the Miami area using a 180-day automatic work permit renewal. But it also expires on April 14th.

As the sole breadwinner for his two children, Umana says he worries about losing his work permit and driver's license, which is tied to his work permit.
“It's stressful. You’re always worried,” Umana said in Spanish. “Not having a job starts a chain reaction: no income, no money for rent, no food.”

Unfulfilled applications at USCIS are part of a larger impasse in the immigration system. The Department of Justice is currently handling 1,7 million outstanding immigrant lawsuits facing deportation, while the State Department is handling more than 400 immigrant visa applicants awaiting interviews at US consulates.

The Biden administration has vowed to close those backlogs, which it attributes in part to Trump-era policies that reduced legal immigration and subjected more immigrants to deportation procedures. USCIS has made bureaucratic changes to speed up processing, but continues to rely on paper records and forms.

As part of a massive spending bill passed by Congress earlier this month, USCIS received more than $400 million to clear processing delays and backlogs. On March 28, President Biden asked Congress to allocate another $765 million to USCIS in fiscal year 2023 to fund efforts to close the backlog.

Conchita Cruz, co-founder of the Asylum Seekers Advocacy Project (ASAP), an organization that works with more than 280 asylum seekers in the US, called USCIS's proposal to extend the automatic renewal of work permits a "huge win."

"This expansion will help not only ASAP members, but asylum seekers, other immigrant workers, and their employers and communities who rely on their work as doctors, construction workers, truck drivers, software engineers, and more," Cruz said.

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Linden Melmed, chief legal officer for USCIS during the George W. Bush administration, said the March 29 announcement shows that USCIS understands the urgency of backlogs and the processing crisis, as well as its humanitarian impact on applicants and the economic impact on American employers.

“At a time when every company is struggling to find workers, they are forced to fire a worker because the government cannot process a four-page application in more than a year,” Melmed said.

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