As part of the many modernization measures currently underway within the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service, USCIS, the top priority is to improve processing times for applicants. In order to make the waiting times for all procedures more transparent, the expected processing times can now be checked in detail online.
A few months ago, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service announced a comprehensive modernization project. The USCIS has long been criticized for outdated processes and increasingly long processing times - the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated these problems due to agency closures and staff shortages.
To improve the processing times of USCIS application procedures, an increase in staff, digital modernization of various procedures and simplified application processes have already been announced, not only to regulate the sometimes months or years-long waiting times, but also to be able to handle future applications more efficiently.
Now the USCIS announced that external communication will also be part of the modernization project.
Among other things, applicants are to be given more transparent insight into the current processing times of USCIS procedures.
It was already possible to find out on the website of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service what the average waiting times were for the various application procedures. However, only a rough distinction was made here according to USCIS location (field office or service center) and the respective application form (e.g. I-129 filing, I-539 filing, etc.).
In the modernized online portal, applicants can now obtain more concrete information for specific application processes ("Form Category"), which should lead to better planning reliability.
For example, if the applicant first selects I-129 Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker under "Form," the visa category can be specifically selected under "Form Category" (e.g., L) and then the responsible service center (e.g., California Service Center).
Thus, the month or week number then displayed indicates the processing time from the moment USCIS officially receives the application ("Receipt Date") until the expected decision. The estimate is based on the average of the last six months' cases.
The estimated processing time for a particular form is based on how long it took the agency to approve or deny a certain percentage of the closed cases for that form during the previous six-month period.
Users will now be able to view processing time information for their individual category through the USCIS website, rather than just a summary of all case types with unrealistic timelines.
The following changes will also occur:
Please note that the retrievable processing times still only provide an average value. I.e., depending on the individual application process, delays may occur, for example, due to follow-up questions.
Updated on 3.6.2022