Even without the five billion-dollars demanded by the Trump administration for heightened border security, it seems an “invisible wall” is still standing strong. The American Immigration Lawyers Association released a study yesterday which suggests that the processing times for visas and applications for citizenship have reached historic levels over the last two years.
A recent analysis of data released by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) reveals what many are calling “crisis level” delays in the processing of immigration petitions under the administration. The current back log of USCIS cases exceeded 2.3 million at the end of FY 2017- a more than 100% increase over the course of the year, despite only a 4% increase in receipted cases during the same period. Here are just a few statistics from the report:
o Case processing times have risen by 46% over the past two years, and have raised 91% since FY2014.
o 94% of cases were processed more slowly in FY2018 than in FY2014. This includes all form types, including family and employment-based petitions, visas for human trafficking victims, and green card applications.
o Even as case receipts appeared to drastically decrease, case processing times still increased substantially in FY2018.
Another troubling statistic regarding the processing of employment-based visas concerns the percentage of H-1B Cap Season petitions receiving “Requests for Evidence” issued by USCIS after the initial filing. According to a recent Teleconference hosted by AILA, only 17% of H-1B filings received these RFEs in December 2016, while 69.8% of petitions from last year’s season received RFEs.
Despite statistics reported by the Associated Press which claim that USCIS “has opened three new field offices and expanded 10 others in an effort to speed up the processing”, the Department of Homeland security has suggested that the USCIS back log is at its highest on record. Before FY2018, the highest reported back log was a 1.7 million cases in FY2008.