Case Processing Times are Rising as Number of Cases being Processed Drops

Arrows-Up-Down-2Many of you have probably noticed the increase in processing times at USCIS lately – I-140s are taking a long time, H-1Bs and other changes of status applications are talking almost a year to process, and I-485s are now well over a year to process as well. Well, the American Immigration Lawyer’s Association has reviewed the processing statistics released by USCIS and come up with some startling conclusions.

First, in terms of how long it is taking USCIS to adjudicate applications, it appears that, overall, processing times have increased 19% in fiscal 2018 alone (that is October 1, 2017 through September 30, 2018). This does not include the tremendous growth in processing times throughout 2017 either. Since this time, USCIS has released further statistics showing that, in the first quarter of 2019 alone, processing times have grown another 11-25% depending on the application type. This is affecting individuals and businesses alike.

Now, one would think that such increases would be matched by increases in the number of cases filed with USCIS. However, if one made that assumption they would be wrong. In fiscal year 2018 the number of cases filed actually dropped almost 13%, from 8,530,722 in fiscal year 2017 to 7,527,851 in fiscal year 2018.

So, to summarize, the number of cases USCIS is dealing with dropped almost 13% BUT processing times increased an average of 11%. It appears that agency policies such as requiring interviews on all employment based adjustment of status applications and the removal of the policy allowing deference to certain prior case determinations have adversely affected the ability of USCIS to adjudicate cases in a timely manner. Imagine if USCIS had to deal with the same volume of cases it had received in 2017, or more. Case processing times would probably have risen at an even steeper level than they have.

If the above practices actually made us safer, that would be one thing. However the reality is that they are just window dressing, things that can be used politically to show the administration is cracking down, when, in reality they do little to actually combat fraud or help catch immigration violators or criminals. Hopefully thinks will change and these delays will start reversing.

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.

March 2019 Visa Bulletin Released

UnknownRecently, the Department of State and Charlie Oppenheim released the new March 2019 Visa Bulletin.  Below is a summary of the movement in each category.

Family-Based cases:

 

F1: Final Action dates moved forward to about a month for most countries – October 22, 2011 for All Other Areas, China and India.  Mexico had no movement and stayed at August 1, 1997.  The Philippines moved forward about two weeks to April 1, 2007. Dates for Filing move to April 22, 2012 for All Areas, China and India, and stayed at September 22, 1999 for Mexico and moved to April 1, 2008 for the Philippines.

F2A: Final Action dates moved forward to a little over a month for most countries – January 8, 2017 for All Areas except Mexico, which moved to December 15, 2016. Dates for Filing moved forward slightly to December 8, 2017 for All Areas.

F2B: Final Action dates for most areas moved forward about three months – All Other Areas, China and India all moved to August 1, 2012. Mexico moved forward two months to September 22, 1997 and the Philippines only moved forward 3 weeks to July 22, 2007. Dates For Filing stayed at June 22, 2014 for All Other Areas, China and India.  Mexico moved forward about 4 months to February 8, 1998, and the Philippines moved forward about one week to January 22, 2008.

F3: Final Action dates moved forward only about 2 weeks for All Other Areas, India and China to September 8, 2006. Mexico moved forward about 3 weeks to January 15, 1996 and the Philippines moved forward almost 4.5 months to January 1, 1996. Dates for Filing moved forward about 1 month for All Other Areas, China and India to March 1, 2007. For Mexico, it stayed at June 8, 2000, and the Philippines moved forward 1 month to September 1, 1997.

F4: Final Action Dates moved forward 3 months to September 22, 2005 for All Other Areas and China. It moved forward about 2 weeks to July 8, 2004 for India. Mexico had no movement and stayed at February 8, 1998. The Philippines moved forward about 3 months to January 1, 1996. Dates for Filing mostly moved forward about 1 week (to June 22, 2006 for All Other Areas and China, to February 8, 2005 for India and to November 8, 1998 for Mexico). The Philippines moved forward about 1 month to January 8, 1997.

Employment-Based Categories

(Please note, because USCIS has consitently stated that employment-based categories will use Final Action Dates we will not discuss the Dates for Filing)

EB1: Moved forward about 1 month – to January 1, 2018 for most countries except India and China which moved to February 22, 2017.

EB2: Stayed Current for most countries except China (moved 3 months to January 1, 2016) and India (moved 3 days to April 9, 2009).

EB3: Stayed Current for most countries except China (moved about 1 week to July 8, 2015) and India (moved forward 1 month to May 22, 2009 – remaining ahead of the EB-2 date for India).  The Philippines moved forward 4 months to December 1, 2017.

Next month there should be another update from Charlie Oppenheim on future movement in all categories.  Please do contact me with any questions.

Please remember, as always, this blog does not offer legal advice. If you need legal advice, consult with a lawyer, not a blog. Thank you.

 

EB-1 for China and India Backlogged come April 1

Charlie Oppenheimer and the Department of State have determined that, because of increased usage of the EB-1 immigration visas that, come April 1 they will have to backlog this category for both India and China. Both have been backlogged to January 1, 2012 (a date for which there will be no demand). This action was taken to make sure that worldwide usage for this category stays within the numbers allowed.

Charlie did say that, if worldwide usage declines over the coming months he may be able to move these dates forward at some point this fiscal year. While the category will move forward, and may even come current, at the beginning of the next fiscal year (October 1, 2018), it is most likely that both India and China will continue to use their allotted share of EB-1 visas each year and there may end up being a more consistent backlog as there is for the EB-2 and EB-3 categories for India and China.

We will update you as soon as we receive any additional information.

October Visa Bulletin Released

Today, USCIS released the October Visa Bulletin. The big changes are the EB1 coming current (as well as EB2 Worldwide) and a big jump forward in the F4 (siblings of a US Citizen) category for Worldwide, China and, to a lesser extent, India. Below is a summary of the developments this month:

Employment Based:

EB1: As predicted, the EB1 category went current across the Board, including for India and China.

EB2: The Worldwide category went current as well. EB-2 for China is now at May 22, 2013 and India is at September 15, 2008. China only moved forward about 1 week and India moved forward about 3 weeks.

EB3: Worldwide remained Current. India stayed at October 15, 2006. China, on the other hand jumped up to January 1, 2014.

Family Based:

F1: Worldwide, China and India all jumped to December 22, 2010. Mexico moved forward one month to March 1, 1996 and the Philippines remained at January 1, 2007.

F2A: Worldwide, India, China and the Philippines moved forward about 3 weeks to October 22, 2015. Mexico also moved forward about 3 weeks to October 15, 2015.

F2B:Worldwide, China and India moved forward about 1 week to November 9, 2010. Mexico moved forward about 1 week as well to July 15, 1996 and the Philippines staid at January 1, 2007.

F3:Worldwide, China and India moved forward about 2 weeks to July 22, 2005. Mexico moved forward about 2 weeks to April 22, 1995 and the Philippines moved forward about 1 week to February 22, 1995.

F4:Worldwide and China jumped forward about 2 years to May 8, 2004. India jumped a little less (about 1 year) to October 1, 2003. Mexico moved forward about 2 weeks to October 1, 1997 and the Philippines staid at June 1, 1994.

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.

India and China heading towards EB-1 Backlogs – November Check-In With Charlie Oppenheim on Visa Availability

Unknown.jpegThe American Immigration Lawyer’s Association recently met with Charlie Oppenheim of the Department of State about the upcoming year and what the trends look like in terms of immigrant visa availability.  Here is what Charlie said in regards to employment-based visas:

EB-1:

First, in terms of EB-1 Employment-based visas, India has ALREADY surpassed its country allocation for EB-1 visas and is currently using visas otherwise allocated to other countries.  China, while not quite as bad, is also coming close to using all its allocation.  This means that both India and China will be backlogged in the EB-1 category, and probably relatively soon.  EB-1 demand for all other countries is not as great, and there should be no backlogs for All other countries in this category

EB-2 and EB-3:

The final action date for EB-3 China is approximately ten months ahead of the EB-2 China final action date. This has actually been the case for the last few years and tends to spur greater demand for EB-3 China based on requests to “downgrade” from EB-2 China by filing a new I-140 petition based on an existing certified EB-2 labor certification.   Forward movement of the China EB-3 date has been limited because of the expected significant influx of “downgrade” demand, which resulted in retrogression in earlier years. If such demand fails to materialize in the coming months the date will begin to advance at a faster pace.

EB-2 India continues to receive significant demand, which Charlie attributes to EB-3 upgrades.Charlie hopes that this final action date will get into 2009 at some point this fiscal year, but  does not yet have a sense as to how quickly that might occur. There continues to be significant demand for EB-2 Worldwide, and if that continues, it will leave little, if any, otherwise unused numbers to reallocate to EB-2 India. In past years, EB-2 India has often benefitted from the addition of thousands of otherwise unused numbers not required for use by other countries. In terms of EB-3 India numbers, Charlie expects India to hold in January, advance up to one week in February, and hold again for a month or two before advancing modestly again.

Demand has also not abated for EB-2 Worldwide/Mexico/Philippines, causing Charlie to speculate that a date will be imposed no later than July. Charlie has been waiting for some time for demand to be generated in EB-3 Worldwide, which Charlie has been waiting for some time for demand to be generated in EB-3 Worldwide, which has generally been current for more than a year. Charlie is watching demand very closely, and though he has started to see an increase, it is unclear whether this demand will be sustained.

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.

August Visa Bulletin: EB-1 backlogs for India and China, EB-2 Backlogged for Everyone

UnknownThe August 2016 visa bulletin was released by the Department of State yesterday.   It features backlogs for ALL countries in the EB-2 category and other changed.  However, readers should understand, that while certain countries (India and China) have regular backlogs in the EB-2 category, those for other countries in the EB-2 category and those in the EB-1 category are  temporary.  I will discuss this more in depth below as we  look at the specifics of the Visa Bulletin:

Family Based Applications

F2A (spouses and children of permanent residents):  No movement

F4 (siblings of US citizens): No movement

F1 (unmarried sons and daughters of US Citizens):  The priority date for most countries moved forward about 2 months to May 22, 2009.  The exceptions are Mexico (no change) and the Philippines (moved forward 1 month to March 22, 2005)

F2B (unmarried sons and daughters of permanent residents):Not much movement.  Most countries moved forward about 1 month to January 8, 2010.  The exceptions are Mexico (no movement) and the Philippines (moved forward 2 months to Sep. 15, 2005)

F3 (married sons and daughters of US Citizens):  Almost no movement, except the Philippines moved forward about 2 weeks to March 15, 1994

Work Based Applications

EB1:  As discussed in previous blog posts, there was always a change of a backlog, and it has occurred.  India and China are backlogged to January 1, 2010.  This will be a TEMPORARY backlog, however.  These dates will become current again on October 1, 2016. The beginning of the new fiscal year.  Every other country remains current.

EB2:  Worldwide is backlogged to February 1, 2014.  Again, this is temporary and will become current again on October 1, 2016 the beginning of the new fiscal year.  China remained unchanged at January 1, 2010 and India moved forward very slightly to November 15, 2004

EB3: Worldwide numbers moved forward about 2 weeks to March 15, 2016.  China, again, remained unchanged at Jan. 1, 2010 and India, again, moved forward slightly to November 8. 2004.  The Philippines also moved forward in this category about two months to May 15, 2009.

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.