According to a new report by the Government Accountability Office (GOA), the backlog of applications for eligible immigrants to become U.S. citizens has more than doubled between 2015 and 2020. The report found that the USCIS backlog increased 85% from fiscal years 2015 through 2020. USCIS cited the COVID-19 pandemic, changes in the application process, and staffing as factors contributing to the sharp rise in the backlog.
As of June 30, 2021, there were 907,424 cases pending in USCIS’s system. In December of 2015, there were 388,832 pending cases. The sharp rise in the backlog has resulted in a sharp rise in wait times and delays for potential applicants waiting for approval. Between October 2020 and September 2021, citizenship applications took an average of 11.5 months to adjudicate according to USCIS data. Certain ‘immigration hotbeds’ are experiencing even longer wait times. The average wait time for naturalization requests in Phoenix AZ, for example, is between 11 and 14.5 months.
With these increasingly long wait times, many are encouraging applicants to apply as soon as they are eligible. Be sure to stay tuned to Berardi Immigration Law’s social media channels for the latest news!