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USCIS and Its Massive Case Backlog: What Comes Next?

3 min read
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Massive Case: The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has an aggressive goal this year. Its essential goal is to lessen the backlog of cases and its effect on Immigration Services. This previous year, USCIS has felt the harmful effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic transformed what were already significant processing delays into unprecedented backlogs across the whole system. In fact, as of 2022, numbers are extremely high, with a backlog approaching 5.2 million cases and roughly 8.5 million pending cases.

Massive Case Backlog

This starkly contrasts with July 2019, when the backlog was around 2.7 million. With the increase of millions of cases in a couple of years and the unavoidable delays it has caused in immigration processing, this new improvement could carry the long-anticipated good news to numerous candidates who have been waiting for delayed periods.

Phyllis A. Coven, the seventh Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman (in that role, she distinguishes issues in the immigration system and makes suggestions to USCIS on how to resolve these issues), said the worst backlog of all is USCIS’s affirmative asylum backlog, which remains at more than 430,000 cases.

Asylum: Defensive vs Affirmative

Asylum is a form of protection that allows a person to stay in the United States instead of being eliminated from a nation of feared persecution. There are two ways to asylum in the U.S.: the affirmative asylum process for people who are not in removal proceedings, and the defensive asylum process for people who are in removal proceedings. 8 USC 1158.

What is Affirmative Asylum?

An individual who isn’t in removal proceedings may proactively apply for asylum with the USCIS. A candidate might file an affirmative for asylum if he or she currently holds a valid immigration status. (For example, a visitor or student visa or Temporary Protected Status). Their status has lapsed or expired (except for Visa Waiver Program entrants). Or even if he or she holds no immigration status (for instance, assuming the person entered the country without examination).

To get asylum through the affirmative asylum process. The candidate should be actually present in the United States and apply for the affirmative asylum process,

USCIS Affirmative Asylum’s Current Massive Case Backlog

As mentioned, USCIS’ existing asylum system can’t essentially lessen its backlog, not to mention stay up with approaching applications. This delay is having a devastating impact on asylum seekers and their relatives. They are losing crucial time in their immigration process, their jobs, livelihoods, and so on.

Therefore, the organization is thinking about ways to deal with work on the quality and productivity of asylum adjudications, leading to a more successful and effective system.

[Waiting time for employer-sponsored green cards rises]

USCIS proposes the following solutions:

  • Recruit more than 4,000 employees by the end of this calendar year and set new, more forceful aggressive “cycle time” goals for fiscal 2023.
  • Identify and group cases to increase efficiencies in interviews and adjudications and prioritize asylum candidates. It requires quick security, and deprioritizing of non-priority candidates, for example, those with different types of relief available.
  • Think about specialization, interview waivers, and simplifying final decisions. To increase case completions while supporting the welfare of officers and candidates.

While ideally these suggestions will assist immigration processes and lighten the backlog, asylum is still incredibly challenging.

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