Did you ever look at something and just want to cry out of frustration? That’s how I feel when I look at the USCIS historical processing time chart. Nearly every day, I’m looking at processing times for our clients because they want to know why they don’t have a decision on their case and why it’s taking so long. Maybe they had a friend who went through a similar process a few years ago and got everything wrapped-up within six months and now they’ve been waiting nearly two years.
Just today, I looked up an I-129F for a fiance petition and when we had a consultation in early 2021, the average processing time was 8 months. It’s now at nearly double that at 15.5 months. Of course the client is upset that this first step to bringing his fiance to the United States is taking so much longer than we talked about in the beginning. I get it. It’s awful. How can anyone plan their life when they don’t know when something as significant as a marriage can take place – even if it’s just a rough estimate.
This below chart shows some of the more egregious examples. However, this just shows the median processing times – that is, how long it took to process half of the cases pending at any given time. You can find the full chart on the USCIS website.
|Form Type||Form Description||FY 2018 (time in months)||FY 2023 (time in months)|
|I-90||Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card||8||11.3|
|I-129F||Petition for Alien Fiancé(e)||6.5||14.5|
|I-130||Petition for Alien Relative||7.6||12.5|
|I-131||Application for Advance Parole||3.6||5.5|
|I-485||Application to Adjust Status for Asylum Grantee||6.2||21.3|
|I-485||Application to Adjust Status for Refugee||6.4||19.1|
|I-485||Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status||10.2||12.8|
|I-601A||Application for Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver||4.5||34.3|
|I-751||Petition to Remove the Conditions on Residence||15.9||19.5|
|I-918||Petition for U Non-immigrant Status||41.8||56.5|
Obviously, we had a pandemic thrown into this and nothing is ever really the same after going through that experience. USCIS stopped work for a few months and also had a lot of people leave the agency. It takes time to recover. However, in what other industry can you become 2900% less efficient (not a typo – look at the I-601A processing times) and not expect some type of consequence?
Yet, USCIS says they need more money to fix these problems. More money will lead to more officers which will, ostensibly, lead to more adjudications. USCIS is funded through filing fees (unlike other government agencies that are funded through tax-payer funds allocated through Congress). Last month, USCIS announced a fee increase proposal. It’s important to note that nothing is definite and we don’t know when and how this will go into effect. Also, if you’ve already filed a case, this won’t impact you pending application.
|Form Type||Current Fee||Proposed New Fee||$ Change||% Change|
That I-601A waiver that will let someone’s spouse come to the United States as a lawful permanent resident…it’s taking over 34 months now, but USCIS wants to charge 75% more. Another items in this proposed fee increase that irritates the heck out of me is that USCIS wants to separately charge adjustment of status applicants separately for their work permit (I-765), travel permit (I-131) and green card (I-485). Right now, if someone files to get their green card based on a marriage to a U.S. citizen, the total filing fee is $1760. Under the proposed fee increase, that government filing fee for all of the same forms rises to $3640. While it’s true some forms may be a bit lower priced if you file online versus on paper (fees above are all for paper filings), it’s not a significant difference.
It’s too much. Under the last administration, it was clear that they didn’t want to encourage immigration to the United States. It feels like the same thing here – stop people from even trying because it’s just too expensive and takes entirely too long.
I’ll continue to speak out against this and hope you’ll join me by sharing your concerns with the U.S. government. To share your thoughts, go to https://www.regulations.gov, and type “Docket No. USCIS-2021-0010” in the search bar. We have until March 6th.