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USCIS Delays – Immigration Lawyer New York
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USCIS Delays

By Michael H. Markovitch, Esq. on October, 09, 2023

Why Hasn’t My Case Been Decided Yet?


Nationwide, you and millions of families, businesses, and individuals applying for immigration benefits are waiting longer for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to process and approve applications and petitions.

Based on previously available USCIS data, in Fiscal Year (FY)2017, an average case took about 6.4 months to process. In FY2022, an average case took more than twelve months. Those extra months of waiting halt business operations, keep families separated, and jeopardize lives.


Where Can I Find the Processing Time for My Case?


USCIS processing times are available on its website: https://egov.uscis.gov/processing-times. To find your case’s processing time, you must select the form type, category, and field office or processing center from the drop-down menus. You will then see the processing time it takes for approximately 80% of that case type. Below that, there is a space to add the receipt date for your case and find out when you may make an inquiry in your case.


Who Is Affected by the Long Processing Times?


Anyone who files applications or petitions with USCIS is affected. You and other people applying for family-based benefits, employment-based benefits, naturalization, travel documents, and employment authorization are all experiencing delays.

Processing times for common form types show just how dire the situation is:


Why Are Cases Taking Longer?


Many factors can slow down your case, including inefficient processing and understaffing. During the last administration, USCIS implemented many new policies designed to restrict legal immigration and delay processing. While the current administration has made some helpful changes, the COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to continued slowdowns.


What Steps Is the Government Taking Now to Speed Processing Times?


In March 2022, USCIS set new processing time goals and has committed to hiring more adjudicators and improving technology. They have also begun re-using previously captured fingerprints when possible. However, it will take time for the agency to catch up with the tremendous backlog.


What Can I Do?


Make sure your lawyer has your current contact information.

Work with your lawyer to file applications and petitions as early as allowed under the law, especially for cases where premium processing is not available. Many application renewals may be submitted up to 180 days prior to expiration.

Expect USCIS processing to take longer than desired, no matter what type of application you are filing. Your lawyer can guide you and help plan for delays. Sometimes, the only option is to await government action. In other cases, some tactics to address delays could include:

  • File a petition or application to safeguard your status in the U.S.
  • Ask USCIS to expedite your case if you qualify or if applicable, to premium process your case;
  • Talk to your congressman’s office for assistance; or
  • File a lawsuit to force USCIS to act on your case.

How to Avoid Delays with Form I-765


Dear Stakeholder,

In response to feedback from stakeholders, we have released an updated tip sheet on How F-1 Students Seeking Optional Practical Training (OPT) Can Avoid Form I-765 Delays. These tips can help students avoid delays with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).


Key Points in the Updated Tip Sheet


  • Check USCIS’ website for updates before you submit your Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization.
  • Make sure Form I-20, Certification of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status, is signed, dated, and endorsed for the correct type of employment authorization.
  • Apply online.
  • Updated: Submit your Form I-765 within 30 days (post-completion OPT) or 60 days (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) OPT) after your designated school official (DSO) enters the recommendation for OPT into your Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) record.
    • Students should ask their DSO for the date the DSO entered the recommendation into SEVIS.
    • The Date Issued on Form I-20 may be different from the date the recommendation was entered in your SEVIS record.
  • Submit a properly completed Form I-20 together with Form I-765 at the same time.
  • If you move, update your mailing address with both USCIS through its How to Change Your Address page and the U.S. Postal Service through its Official USPS Change-of-Address page.

If You Are a DSO


This tip sheet is meant for F-1 students. If you are a DSO, please note that the Form I-20 may not list the date you enter the OPT or STEM OPT recommendation into SEVIS but will list the date that you print the Form I-20. To help your F-1 students know what date you entered the recommendation into SEVIS, we recommend that you enter your recommendation into SEVIS and print the Form I-20 on the same day.


Why We Updated the Tip Sheet


When we first posted the tip sheet in May, we recommended that students submit their Form I-765 within 30 days of the date listed by the DSO in the Date Issued section on Form I-20 (or within 60 days for STEM OPT). The Date Issued section on Form I-20 contains the only date visible to the student.

Based on feedback from stakeholders, we worked with USCIS to determine the best way to advise students on the OPT process. According to regulation, students should submit their Form I-765 within 30 days (post-completion OPT) or 60 days (STEM OPT) after the date the DSO enters the recommendation for OPT into their SEVIS record. However, only the DSO, not the student, can see this date, so the DSO should provide the date to the student.

We appreciate stakeholders bringing issues like this to our attention and encourage you to continue to do so in the future.

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