The new measure would allow some applicants to pay $2,500 in extra fees to have their cases reviewed on an expedited basis.
COLORADO, USA — U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on Tuesday three efforts to speed up the processing of cases and reduce the agency’s pending caseload that has accumulated in the system.
According to a report by CBS News, the agency plans to expand the number of applicants who can pay extra fees to have their immigration petitions adjudicated more quickly, propose a rule that would provide relief to immigrants waiting for work permit renewals and set processing time goals.
The agency said that due to the COVID-19 pandemic and resource constraints resulting from the prior administration, USCIS inherited a significant number of pending cases and increased processing times.
>Video above is from 2017: Immigrants push for green card changes
The number of accumulated cases that USCIS is reviewing exceeds $9 million as of February, an increase of 66% compared to the 2019 fiscal year, according to CBS News’ report.
Due to the growing case backlog, application processing for some immigrants, including asylum-seekers, green card applicants and those aspiring to become U.S. citizens, have been delayed for months or yearslong waiting periods that has caused some to lose jobs, drivers licenses and sources of income, CBS News reported.
“USCIS remains committed to delivering timely and fair decisions to all we serve,” USCIS Director Ur M. Jaddou said in the release. “Every application we adjudicate represents the hopes and dreams of immigrants and their families, as well as their critical immediate needs such as financial stability and humanitarian protection.”
Measure one: Expanding Premium Processing
The agency is looking to expand premium processing to several work visas in the year 2022. The new measure would allow some applicants to pay $2,500 in extra fees to have their cases reviewed on an expedited basis. Premium processing is currently limited to applications like Form I-129 which includes H-1B petitions and Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, and Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker.
According to CBS News, premium processing is set to take effect in 60 days and it will expand the rule to additional employment-based green card applications, all work permit petitions and temporary immigration status extension requests.
Measure two: Reducing Processing Backlogs
Another measure from USCIS is setting processing time goals. According to CBS News, the measure includes hiring more caseworkers and improving processing technology to meet new timelines for adjudicating applications.
Premium processing goals would be two weeks for Form I-129 and Form I-140. Non-Premium processing provides expedited processing within two months for Form I-129.
The timeline for applications such as I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status, would be three months and N-400, Application for Naturalization, the process to become a U.S. citizen, would be six months.
The current estimated processing time range for processing an N-400 application in Denver is nine to 16 months.
Measure three: Improving Access to Employment Authorization Documents
This rule would provide temporary relief to immigrants affected by the work authorization delays by extending the period of automatic work permit extensions for those who apply for a renewal.
According to CBS News, most work permit holders who apply for renewals are eligible for an automatic 180-day extension if their authorization to work lapses but many immigrants wait for their work permit renewals beyond 10 months.
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