Millions of families, businesses, and people applying for immigration benefits are waiting longer for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to process and approve their applications and petitions. People applying for family-based benefits, employment-based benefits, naturalization, travel documents, and employment authorization are all experiencing delays. In Fiscal Year (FY) 2018, 94 percent of all immigration petitions and application form types took longer to process when compared to FY2014. Five years ago, an average case was taking about five months to process. By FY2018, the average applicant waited nearly 10 months. Those extra months of waiting halt business operations, keep families separated, and jeopardize people’s lives.
Many factors can slow down a particular case. But, many cases are slowed down by new policies at USCIS that are restricting legal immigration. For example, one policy requires USCIS officers to conduct duplicate reviews of past decisions, adding unnecessary work to each case. Thus, processing times are increasing even as USCIS application rates are decreasing. Recent USCIS data shows that USCIS’s average processing time rose by 19 percent from FY2017 to FY2018, even though overall numbers of cases filed declined by 13 percent during that same period.