Longer waits, longer applications, and higher fees are the unfortunate reality for persons and businesses seeking immigration benefits with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Here in Washington State, the USCIS Field Office in Seattle says it is taking 15 to 16.5 months to adjudicte a naturalization application. The application itself costs $725, has 18 pages of instructions, and 20 pages of application to complete. USCIS Field Offices appear to be swamped with additional vetting responsibilities, with no additional funding, despite the high application costs.
Similarly, the Service Centers have long waits for many important benefits. Work authorization documents are taking 4.5 to 6.5 months to issue out of the National Benefits Center. It used to be that the agency was required to issue a work authorization document within 90 days by regulation, but since that regulation was stricken, wait times have increased. This can be really hard on adjustment application couples, who need their significant other to be earning income to pay the bills.
H-1B applications have really slowed down too, now taking 5.5 to 7.5 months, according to the California Service Center. We’ve heard of longer adjudications. The agency has noted the issue as well, and has suspended much of its premium processing program in order to try to get a handle on things. It seems likely that the increase in Requests for Evidence and Denials has added to the agency’s workload. H-1B applications include thousands of dollars in filing fees, but that doesn’t seem to be relevant.
Last week I participated in a teleconference with Congressional staffers and discussed the issue of delays. It is a universal concern in immigration law right now, and hopefully something can be done. As part of that call, I put together the following list of published adjudication timeframes:
Timeframes for initial adjudications:
Local Field Offices:
(Seattle): 10 to 19.5 months
(Yakima) 9.5 to 21.5 months
(Spokane) 9.5 to 21.5 months
Application fee: $1225
Form length: 18 pages; 42 pages of instructions, not including parole and work authorization applications
(Seattle): 15 to 16.5 months
(Yakima) 3.5 to 5.5 months
(Spokane) 11.5 to 18 months
Application Fee: $725
Form length: 20 pages; 18 pages of instructions.
National Benefits Center:
I-765 4.5 to 6.5 months for adjustments; 5 to 7 months at NBC for all others
I-131 4.5 to 6.5 months at NBC
California Service Center (I-129s)
H-1B: 5.5 to 7.5 months
Ls: 4 to 6 months
Rs: 4 to 7 months
Nebraska Service Center (I-140s)
Extraordinary ability (E11) 5 Months to 7 Months
Outstanding professor or researcher (E12) 5 Months to 7 Months
Multinational executive or manager (E13) 9.5 Months to 12 Months
Advanced degree or exceptional ability (E21) 5 Months to 7 Months
Skilled worker or professional (E31; E32) 5 Months to 7 Months
Unskilled worker (EW3) 7 Months to 9.5 Months
Advanced degree/ (NIW) 5 Months to 7 Months
Schedule A Nurses 8 Months to 10 Months