While we can point to many examples of USCIS process times lengthening significantly in the past year, perhaps one of the hardest to understand is that for H-1B renewals. In its September 30, 2015 processing time reports, USCIS stated that they were processing H-1B renewals filed as of June 2, 2015 (this was for the California Processing Center). On November 30, 2015 the new USCIS report indicated that they had moved to June 13, 2015 a total of 11 days forward. In the next two months how far did California move? You guessed it, no more than another 11 days or so. In a four month period the California Service Center did not progress on H-1B renewals in any significant way.
The American Immigration Lawyers Associated, the bar association for immigration attorneys, has asked USCIS on several occasions about this slow down (which has also affected the Vermont Service Center which is only at June 8, 2015). USCIS response every time? “We are aware of the problem and are working on it”. This has been their response for over 4 months. At the same time this is happening, the I-140 processing times at the Texas Service Center have increased, O-1 processing times have increased, P-1 processing times have increased. UCSIS seems to be having series issues keeping up with its case load, which, while not small, has not significantly increased this year over last year. What is causing this slow down? Will it continue? Unfortunately we are not sure at this time. Hopefully, in the near future, with continued pressure from attorneys and AILA, USCIS will let us know why this is occurring and when it will end.
While we may not know what is causing this slow down, there is at least one trend caused by these slow downs. According to USCIS, many more people are now using premium processing on these applications, a process they probably would not have used had the timelines been more reasonable. This is disconcerting news, and we are hopeful that the increased revenue that USCIS is receiving because of the surge of premium processing cases does not lead them to take longer to combat these long timelines. We will update you with any additional information about these delays as soon as it is available.
If you have any questions leave a comment below or send me an email. Please remember, as always, this blog does not offer legal advice. If you need legal advice, consult with a lawyer instead of a blog. Thank you.