USCIS Processing Delays Have Reached Crisis Levels Under the Trump Administration

Jason Boyd & Greg Chena
Date of Publication: 
January, 2019
Source Organization: 

This paper examines alarming trends in processing times for immigration benefits. In brief, processing times by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) have dramatically increased, resulting in a surge in application backlogs. For example, the net backlog (the gross backlog minus cases where USCIS is waiting for additional information from the applicant) increased more than 100 percent — from 1,048,000 to 2,330,000 — between fiscal years 2016 (the last of the Obama administration) and 2017. The paper includes a few case examples of the consequences of these delays, such as the dentist who lost her job offer from the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, due to delays in processing her work authorization application. AILA attributes the dramatic lengthening of application processing to procedures instituted since the beginning of the Trump administration — changing USCIS from a service-oriented agency into “a third immigration enforcement component of DHS.” The paper makes a number of recommendations for reducing the backlogs — including rescission of policies that have needlessly delayed adjudications and greater congressional oversight. (Maurice Belanger, Maurice Belanger Consulting)

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Boyd, J. & Chena, G. (2019). USCIS Processing Delays Have Reached Crisis Levels Under the Trump Administration. American Immigration Lawyers Association, AILA Doc. No. 19012834. Retrieved from