Many individuals face tight deadlines when applying for immigration benefits such as status in a nonimmigrant visa category. While USCIS does post processing times on their website, we remind clients, “Don’t rely on USCIS processing times.” The times that USCIS posts are intended to provide a general guideline for how long it may take for a case to be adjudicated. However, these times are not binding and are often inaccurate or misleading.
A recent case involves a foreign actress who seeks to enter the U.S. under the O nonimmigrant visa category. While it is common practice in our firm to strongly encourage all O applicants to premium process their petition, this client decided, based on the processing times posted on the USCIS website, that she would not choose to pay the $1,225.00 for this optional service. After waiting three weeks from the time the petition was submitted, our office contacted USCIS to inquire as to the status of the petition and was told that the actual processing times for this category was in excess of 45 days – far longer than the two weeks stated on the website. She must now decide whether or not to “upgrade” the petition to premium processing to get a quicker result.
USCIS strives to adjudicate all petitions in a timely manner but many factors may influence their ability to render a decision on a particular case. Personnel resources are often shuffled in order to alleviate backlogs in one category, which may result in a slow down in a category which otherwise moves quite quickly. Requests for Evidence may be issued on cases where the Adjudicating Officer feels sufficient information was not presented, or in which the Adjudicating Officer fails to fully understand the submitted evidence. Holidays or unexpected closures resulting from weather or other natural occurrences may also delay adjudication of a petition.
Given the number of immigrant and nonimmigrant petitions and applications filed by Berardi Immigration Law on a weekly basis, we often can provide a clearer picture of actual processing times based on what we are experiencing with pending and recently adjudicated cases.
If you are seeking to obtain status in the U.S., contact our office to speak with one of our U.S. Immigration Attorneys.