Why does it take so long to get an answer from the Immigration Service?
This is a question that many people ask when applying for visas or adjustment of status. In my practice I get a number of calls each week from clients wondering when they will get approval on an application for a work permit, adjustment of status, or a visa extension.
It is taking longer than ever to get approvals from the USCIS (US Citizenship and Immigration Service). These delays continue despite the extreme increase in filing fees last July (2007). Most fees doubled and some tripled. Citizenship applications are now backlogged to about nine months.
Pending applications for citizenship, green cards, and other types of visas are now at an all time high of about 6.8 million in the U.S., up more than 60 percent since the year 2006.
There are a number of causes for these delays. Increased security checks for green card applicants, student visa applicants, and those attempting to get work permits, is a major reason for the delays.The “Real ID Act” passed by Congress in 2005 requires additional background checks for people applying for citizenship or lawful permanent residency. Immigrants from certain countries (Middle East and some Asian countries) are put through extra FBI checks, which takes considerable time. In addition, the USCIS often lacks enough funding to hire the needed personnel.
With an increasing number of applications and more security checks you would think that the Government would be hiring more people to fill the gaps. Unfortunately, this is not happening. However, the USCIS has publicized that it is trying to bring back some retired USCIS workers on a temporary basis.