Many immigrants know that 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 many applications for immigration each year. However, many of these applicants have to wait a long time for their application to be processed.
Due to the excessive number of applications 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 address this backlog and reduce the processing and waiting time for these candidates.
Why is there such a backlog?
Currently, thousands of green cards are unused. Although they were cleared for administration by Congress, many were not issued due to various administrative delays. This problem dates back to 1992.
The recent COVID-19 pandemic has added to the already huge backlog. As there were travel restrictions, many applicants were unable to show up for their interviews and application process. In addition, a hiring freeze at United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has further slowed administrative procedures.
Implications of this backlog
Overall application processing times have increased by 25% over the past few years. By February 2022, the backlog had grown from 5.7 million to 9.5 million claims at the end of fiscal year 2019.
Due to delays in the application process and receipt of green cards and work permits, many immigrants cannot work.
According to green card attorney Brandon Ritchie of Ritchie Reiersen Injury & Immigration Attorneys, “There are many consequences to these delays. A lot of people need their green cards and visas to get permanent jobs here. the right documents, their jobs and their livelihoods are at risk.
What are the new measures?
Several steps have been proposed. USCIS hopes to meet its internal cycle time goals by September 2023.
First and foremost, its main objective is to tackle the staffing problem that has arisen during the pandemic. To complement this, USCIS plans to modernize and use more technology to speed up the process. These steps will streamline the process a bit more and hopefully reduce the wait time for applicants.
Another major milestone announced by USCIS is that premium processing would apply to more form types. In this, applicants had the option of paying between $1,500 and $2,500 in additional fees to expedite their applications. However, this was only available to a limited number of people, such as those filing Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, and some employment-based immigrant visa applicants filing Form I. -140.
But now, with the new measures coming into effect in 60 days, more immigrants will be able to apply for the bounty processing. It will be useful for multinational executives, managers and those applying to extend or change their 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 because they have to wait for their work permit to be renewed. Work permits are generally valid for two years, but when applying for renewal by the visa holder, there is an automatic extension of 180 days.
However, due to the slow process, many have to wait almost ten months to renew the work permit, which is much longer than the extension. Due to this discrepancy, there will be an increase in extension time.