USCIS has recently announced that it has changed how it posts processing times. Rather than listing weeks or months, it now provides specific dates. This is a small initial step towards providing better customer service and giving individuals and employers the information they need regarding their immigration case. However, it should be noted that the dates listed are not always based on real-time information and may be outdated when they are published.
USCIS provides its customers with estimates of how long the waiting time is because individuals who submit petitions or applications for immigration benefits to USCIS often have to wait lengthy periods for the transaction to be completed. These processing times are posted on the USCIS website. Processing times are available by location and by filing type.
In the past, processing times were listed in one of two ways:
- Processing times related to publicly-announced production goals. USCIS established production goals for certain filing types. For example, USCIS set a five-month processing time goal for naturalization applications (N-400s). If the office was meeting or exceeding the goal, the processing time was listed as five months. In other words, the customer didn’t have specific information about how long applications were actually taking, just that they are being processing in about five months’ time.
- If the office was not meeting its production goal, the chart listed the date of the last application worked on at the time the data was sent to the Office of Performance and Quality (OPGQ), which is the office that regularly calculates processing times. This does not mean that all applications received as of that date had been adjudicated.
According to the USCIS announcement, the agency will now be using the second method for publishing processing times. The tables available on the USCIS processing time website now list a “Processing Cases as of Date.” Presumably, the date listed is the date of the last application that particular office worked on the moment the processing data was sent to OPQ. This new format also means that USCIS no longer informs the public of its processing goals.
It should also be noted that the listed processing times may not be accurate for a few other reasons. For example, USCIS does not post processing times for all applications and processing times do not reflect any delays related to Requests for Evidence. Furthermore, processing times are generally out of date by the time they are published. This is because OPQ takes time to receive and aggregate data from the various offices, calculate processing times and publish them. Months can pass between the first day of the performance month and publication. Currently, the most recent processing times were last updated Dec. 29, 2016 based on data as of Oct. 31, 2016.
If you are interested in immigrating to the United States, please contact our office to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys today!