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uscis backlog

Mar 19, 2024

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USCIS Backlog: What Applicants Should Know for Approval

The backlog at the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has become a serious concern, affecting thousands of individuals waiting to process their applications. As it impacts various immigration processes, from visa approvals to green card applications, knowing the causes of the USCIS backlog and when to seek legal assistance is crucial to making informed decisions.

Let us learn more about the USCIS backlog so you can easily navigate its challenges.

Understanding the USCIS Backlog

The US immigration system is overwhelmed by several pending cases, resulting in extensive backlogs. These backlogs significantly delay the timely processing of visas, green cards, and other immigration applications.

Causes of USCIS Backlog

  • COVID-19 Pandemic: During the pandemic, numerous US embassies and consular offices were forced to close, causing a backlog of pending applications and delayed interviews. Following the pandemic, these affected agencies had to address the pre-pandemic pending cases and the surge of new applications filed after the travel restrictions were implemented.
  • Green Card and Immigrant Visa Restrictions: The number of immigrant visas and green cards issued to family members of US citizens, green card holders, and employment-based immigration applicants is subject to limitations. Once the maximum number of green cards allocated for a specific category has been reached, the remaining eligible applications will be pushed to the next year. This creates a backlog as new applications follow alongside those already pending.
  • Limited Staff: The USCIS implemented a hiring freeze between 2020 and 2021 due to budget limitations and pandemic restrictions. So, when things slowly resumed normality, there was a shortage of USCIS adjudicators to process the influx of new and pending applications efficiently.

USCIS Backlog Impact on Applicants

Due to backlogs, individuals must endure lengthy wait times, from several months to years, before receiving a decision on their applications. This prevents numerous prospective immigration applicants who aspire to relocate temporarily or permanently to the US from initiating the process, and causes some individuals to seek unlawful methods to expedite their entry into the country.

Prioritize Patience and Preparation

The waiting period for USCIS approval can be lengthy, so keeping patient is important. Also, you can utilize this time to review all the required documents, ensuring that all necessary information is included and accurate. This includes verifying the forms are completed without mistakes, gathering supporting evidence, double-checking your documents, and ensuring that all required information is correct and recent, which increases your chances of quick approval.

Get USCIS-Approved Doctors for Medical Examinations

The USCIS authorizes USCIS-approved doctors to conduct the required medical exams for specific visa applications and green card processes. These physicians have the necessary training and experience to conduct exams and provide accurate medical reports that adhere to USCIS standards. So, ensuring that a USCIS-approved doctor performs your medical examination is essential for your application to be accepted and processed smoothly and to avoid delays and potential problems in your immigration journey.

How to Check Your USCIS Application Status?

  • Visit the official website of USCIS.
  • Navigate to the “case status online” button under the tools dropdown list.
  • Enter your receipt number in the provided tab and hit the “check status” button.
  • Now, you can see the status of your application, whether it is approved or pending.

Important Tips for Communicating with USCIS

  • Leverage Online Tools: USCIS has a 24/7 e-Request tool that allows you to ask questions concerning your case and get responses from USCIS representatives.
  • Call the USCIS Contact Center: You can also contact the USCIS via phone. However, you should first answer some questions from their “interactive voice response” (IVR) system. The IVR will either connect you with a live representative or put you on hold due to a higher call volume.
  • Ask Emma: USCIS also has an online virtual assistant, “Emma.” She can answer your questions, connect you to a live chat representative, or help you schedule an in-person appointment.

When to Seek Legal Assistance?

Seeking legal assistance for the USCIS immigration process is recommended if:

  • You have prior immigration violations
  • You or your spouse are inadmissible due to health concerns or criminal records
  • You have a complex marital history, like being involved in a divorce or previous marriages

Other Options to Expedite Your USCIS Immigration Case

  • File a Motion to Advance: If your immigration case hearing date is far, your attorney can file a motion to expedite your court hearing. This way, your case will be heard earlier, and you will not have to wait too long before a decision is made.
  • Request Premium Processing: Certain USCIS applications, such as employment visa requests, can be expedited by requesting premium processing at an additional cost. However, you must meet specific criteria to be eligible for premium processing.

Final Thoughts

Going by lawful means is the best way to stay in the country legally. Hence, begin your immigration process as early as possible to survive potential delays and have ample time to accommodate the changes implemented by the USCIS authority. This will help your application progress quickly.

Clear Your USCIS Medical Exam with Dr. Steven Wittenberg Gordon!

If you are looking for a USCIS-approved medical officer to complete your immigration medical exam, contact our civil surgeon, Steven Wittenberg Gordon, MD. With his over 20 years of experience and expertise in conducting immigration medical exams, you can rest assured that you will receive the best service. Contact us today to schedule your immigration medical exam.

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