Recently, USCIS issued its progress report for 2022 and they’ve discussed the issue of backlogs. Obviously, there are many factors that went into why we have such a backlog. The time frames that we see with USCIS currently that have to do with COVID, global conditions such as the war in Ukraine and even Afghanistan.
There was a hiring freeze for almost a year from May 2020 to March 2021. USCIS was not able to replace people that they lost and they lost a considerable amount per this report in 2019 and 2020. They were also forced to close in person due to COVID which created a backlog.
Read more: USCIS Fiscal Year 2022 Progress Report
One of the things that they mentioned in this report is that they were able to stop the growth of that backlog. They feel they are making significant progress and we are seeing progress in a lot of different areas.
USCIS Progress Report for 2022
They talk about really focusing on naturalization over this past year. They had one million people naturalized in 2022. This was up 62 percent, that’s a drastic increase. They also have made a lot of improvements to employment-based visas. They issued all that were given out. Most visas have a cap or a number of visas that can be issued.
They definitely had made efforts in those work visas that are dealing with stem, people who have come here on a work visa and getting EADs automatically for their spouses. Those have been very helpful if and when they do come through for visas that are taking so such a long time to process and we can’t get there their approval soon enough. That issued employment authorization or EAD expires before they are able to get that petition approved.
They’ve reformed the EBC process. They’ve expedited some healthcare workers, child care types of applications and increased some premium processing.
They tout, throughout all of these wins, the support from Congress because their budget is authorized by Congress and so they need their support in order to have the funds to be able to increase staffing and all of those things to be appropriated enough money to do their job.
We still see them have work to do on that humanitarian front. Asylums, refugees, and humanitarian parole. We saw around 45,000 filings for Afghanistan. Most of those were not even processed and many of those were denied. They did increase TPS. They added Ethiopia and some other renewals and reauthorizations.
We’re seeing a lot of people that petitioned for family-based visas such as K1 Visas during that time that is still stalled out because they came in that time period where everything was going on a shelf and they’re now in the consular phase. We’re working with clients to try to get those unstuck, get them to consulates that will process, get them an interview, and get their spouse or their family member here.
For 2023, they put in that progress report some goals or things they want to work on. They want to simplify the work authorization process, adjustment of status, and naturalization. All of those will impact our work if they’re able to do that. They’re going to continue to focus on hiring so all of those things should make these fluid processing times and wait times and backlog push through the process.
Role of Your Congressional Representative
It’s important for you to contact your congressional representative whether that’s your senator or your house representative and let them know how the wait lines and the backlogs are impacting your life and your ability to be with your spouse.
Most of the time people don’t pick up the phone to call those agencies. They don’t think to submit a request online. Most of these representatives have easy ways to contact them and the more frequently they hear something, the more overarching need they are going to feel is out there for their constituents and a pressure to act in congress.
Everybody should be aware that all of those things are appropriated by Congress and make sure that you’re contacting your representatives and letting them know even if it’s not on your case specifically. It could be that the time frame just isn’t right for you to start initiating an actual inquiry with them. Just let them know how all of that backlog is impacting you as a US citizen so we can make some headway that way.