On June 17, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced it is embarking upon a strategy to decrease processing times based on location for applications for U.S. citizenship and applications for adjustment of status.
USCIS notes that since the end of 2015 it has experienced an increase in processing due to heightened volume and receipts, which were up 15.6% from fiscal year 2016 and up 25.5% from fiscal year 2015. Lengthy delays for scheduling of interviews in large cities have recently peaked at close to two years.
For this reason, USCIS announced it may schedule applicants to appear for interviews at field offices outside of their normal jurisdiction. Applicants for benefits might receive interview notices or requests for evidence from offices that do not generally handle their cases. Biometrics appointments, which generally precede the scheduling of interviews, will remain scheduled within the applicants' jurisdiction.
It is expected that some appointments may be scheduled as far away as 70 miles from the home of certain applicants. Most recently, the New York City District Office announced that some pending cases would be forwarded to the Newark, New Jersey and Albany, New York district offices for interviews with the goal and purpose of reducing wait times.
Posted currently for New York City, wait times for adjustment of status interviews range from 20 to 30 months. Citizenship interviews are ranging between 13.5 to 25 months from date of receipt of filings. One reason the adjustment of status interview is encumbered by delay is attributable to the administration's "Buy American, Hire American" policy of 2017, in which the in-person interview, suspended for more than 20 years for employment-based applicants, has been revived. All family members, including children, are now required to appear for mandatory in-person adjustment of status interviews. This additional process anticipates that an additional 120,000 individuals will be called in to appear in person on an annual basis, thus creating further delays in visa processing.
While there is not always a solution to circumvent the adjustment of status interview, in some cases, and with careful consideration, consular processing might prove to be a more expeditious method of completing U.S. residence cases. We are hoping that despite the inconvenience of appearing at locations far from home, the backlogs for appearances in person are reduced and move forward with more predictability.
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