Navigating the U.S. Immigration Backlog: Essential Steps To Take Now

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Dealing With Backlogs in the U.S. Immigration System

The U.S. immigration system is plagued by backlogs running up to millions of pending cases. These backlogs lead to delays in processing for visas, green cards, and other immigration applications. 

Because of the situation, those with pending immigration cases are forced to wait for months or, in some cases, years for a decision on their applications. On the other hand, many prospective immigrants who wish to immigrate to the U.S. temporarily or permanently are discouraged from beginning the immigration process due to this state of affairs. Some even try to enter the U.S. through unlawful means to speed up their entry.

If you’d like to begin the immigration process, do not be demoralized or deterred from beginning the lawful immigration process, as the lawful route is still your best bet to a fulfilling stay in the U.S.

The U.S. immigration authorities are constantly searching for and implementing ways to make the system more effective. Beginning the immigration process as soon as possible can help you benefit from any changes to the system, which could help your application progress speedily.

In some circumstances, mistakes applicants make often contribute to processing delays. To help you avoid such situations, we also identified some steps you could take to avoid extending your wait time further.

Keep reading to learn more.

Causes of the Immigration Backlog

U.S. immigration applications/cases are generally processed by immigration courts, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and U.S. consulates and embassies worldwide. Together, these institutions process tons of applications for various immigration benefits. However, the processing of applications at the USCIS and several embassies has slowed down in recent times for several reasons, including the following;
  • The COVID-19 Pandemic: Many U.S. embassies and consular offices had to shut down during the pandemic, resulting in tons of pending applications being set aside and interview schedules being postponed. In the aftermath of the pandemic, the affected agencies had to deal with the pending cases before the pandemic and the influx of new applications filed after the pandemic-induced travel restrictions were lifted.
  • Staffing Constraints: Between 2020 and 2021, the USCIS implemented a hiring freeze due to budget limitations. This reduced staff capacity coincided with the beginning of the pandemic. Once the pandemic restrictions were slowly lifted, there were insufficient USCIS adjudicators to quickly deal with the new and pending applications.
  • Limits on Green Cards and Immigrant Visas: There are limits placed on the number of immigrant visas and green cards that can be issued annually to the family members of U.S. and green card holders and employment-based immigration applicants. Once the specified number of available green cards has been issued for a particular category, all other applications that may meet the requirements will be pushed to the following year. This creates a backlog in the system since new applications continue to pile up in addition to those pending.

Plans To Reduce Immigration Processing Backlogs by the Immigration Authorities

In March 2022, the USCIS introduced new cycle time goals to make it easy to monitor the agency’s processing time for different applications. The agency hopes to process cases faster with the new cycle time goals. Other ways USCIS plans to reduce processing times are by increasing its capacity, improving technology, and hiring more staff by the end of 2023. The National Visa Center, responsible for processing immigrant visas sought by applicants from within the U.S. or through a consulate abroad, has also expressed its commitment to resolving the current visa backlogs. Hopefully, the results of that commitment will become evident as time passes.

How To Minimize Immigration Processing Delays

Even though it is not your job to fix the backlogs in the system, there are steps that you can take to ensure that your immigration application does not suffer further delays in addition to the delays caused by the backlog. They include the following;
  1. Ensure You Qualify for the Application You’ve Filed: Before filing your immigration application, ensure that you meet the requirements specific to that application; otherwise, your application will be denied even when you may have had to wait a long time for a decision.
  2. Avoid Mistakes in Your Application: Immigration forms and applications usually come with instructions for completion and filing. It is important to follow the instructions in the letter to avoid any issues. Failure to adhere to those instructions could lead to processing delays or even a denial of the application.Spelling mistakes, grammar errors, and factual errors in the details you include, such as your address or contact numbers, could also affect the success of your application. Hence, it would be best if you did all you could to avoid them.
  3. Do Not Submit Incomplete or Insufficient Documents: Your immigration applications must be supported by documents that prove the facts you included in your form. The specific type of documents needed varies with each application. If you fail to submit the required documents, authorities like the USCIS may request the omitted documents. Until you provide the requested evidence, your application will be pending, further extending the processing time.
  4. Get Legal Counsel and Representation: Having legal representation throughout the immigration process is a crucial factor if you hope to avoid processing delays. An immigration attorney can help you navigate the immigration process with ease. With their help, you do not need to worry about the three steps above, as they will handle things on your behalf and work to ensure that you get the best possible outcome for your case. Depending on your circumstances, your lawyer could also help you explore certain legal options to expedite your case. Some of those options are highlighted below.

Legal Options for Expediting Your Case: How a Lawyer Can Help

  • File a Motion To Advance: If you have a pending immigration court case and the scheduled hearing date is far away, your attorney can file a motion to advance your court hearing date so your case can be heard earlier. That way, you do not have to wait too long for a decision.
  • Request Premium Processing: With certain USCIS applications, including some employment visa requests, you can request premium processing for an additional fee to have your case processed faster than usual. There are specific requirements and conditions to meet when applying for premium processing. Your lawyer can help you identify those requirements and prepare your application on your behalf to meet the required standards.

Contact Skilled Immigration Lawyers at Andrew T. Thomas, Attorneys at Law

The backlog and wait time in the U.S. immigration system can be discouraging. But, you can minimize your wait times and avoid delays by ensuring that your application is in order and meets the specific requirements.

At Andrew T. Thomas, Attorneys At Law, we understand the frustrations of waiting for a decision on your immigration application. That is why we are committed to guiding, supporting, and providing experienced legal counsel to immigrants and their loved ones throughout the immigration process.

We can help prepare and file immigration applications for different visa categories and ensure they meet the required standards. That way, you can avoid the processing delays caused by official requests for further information or evidence.

Our team can also help you liaise with the immigration authorities, including the USCIS and the Department of Homeland Security, if you need updates about the progress of your case and the Texas USCIS Processing Times.

If you are a U.S. citizen or employer seeking to sponsor your immediate relatives or foreign employees to obtain family or employment-based green cards, we can also guide you through the immigrant visa application process and do all we can to ensure the process is as seamless as possible.

If there are legal options that could help you fast-track your case with the USCIS Immigration Courts in Texas, you can trust us to help you identify and explore them. Contact us today through Our Homepage for help with your U.S. immigration issues. Let us help you explore solutions that could yield speedy and positive results.