Citizenship Filings Processed at Lightning Speed and Other Immigration Law News

By:  Richard Hanus, Esq.

Published October 30, 2022

Processing times for N-400 applications

Lawful permanent residents living in the Chicago area and across the U.S. are seeing their applications for U.S. citizenship processed at record pace.  For my clients across Illinois and Northwest Indiana filing N-400 Applications for Naturalization, we are seeing a total processing time of just 4-5 months – with applicants waiting 90 -120 days for interview scheduling and another 30 days or so for the scheduling of citizenship oath ceremonies.

It is anyone’s guess as to why U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) is making citizenship processing a priority, but perhaps upcoming elections and the swearing in of new U.S. citizens who will be able to vote in those elections has a little something to do with it.  Also contributing to faster processing are advanced technologies allowing applicants’ fingerprints/biometrics collected from previous immigration processes to be refreshed rather than retaken.  This faster processing timeline does not include applicants with complicated immigration or criminal histories.

Waiver of interview for certain U.S. based Green Card applicants in the U.S.

The vast majority of employment based applicants for permanent residence undergoing all processing in the U.S. –  aka applicants for Adjustment of Status (Form I-485) – continue to see approval of their green cards without the need for an interview at their local CIS office.  Conditional residents who obtain initial 2 year green cards based on marriage, are also continuing to see their interviews waived when it comes to the processing of their I-751 petitions to remove conditional basis on residence.  In both of the above scenarios, applicants who have their interviews waived will typically have spotless immigration histories and no criminal background whatsoever.  Also key to interview waiver for I-751 petitioners is the submission of substantial supporting documentation with their filings.

There is talk of some marriage based adjustment of status applicants also having their initial green card interview waived, although I have yet to see any clear evidence of the implementation of this policy.  For this latter group of applicants, given how much marriage fraud authorities come across, I’d be most interested in seeing the kind of standards and factors that would be at play in determining when approval without interview is appropriate.

Marriage based applicants in the U.S. who are called for an interview with their U.S. citizen petitioning spouse typically are seeing 9-12 month processing times, with their Employment Authorization and Advance Parole Travel Documents issued within approximately 6-7 months of filing and interviews scheduled approximately 3 or 4 months later.

CIS receipts for Green Card renewals

As noted on CIS receipts for Form I-90 applications to renew Green Cards, the validity of 10 year Green Cards are now extended for a 2 year period while the renewal application is pending.  The new policy extending card validity takes into account the extraordinary delays facing this class of applicant as well as practically every applicant looking to avail of our legal immigration system.  The next challenge then comes for when a new card is not issued within the 2 year extension period and the permanent resident seeks to obtain proof of their legal status for employment authorization or international travel purposes.  That is because the US CIS’ customer service department, including their 1-800 number system, is notoriously difficult to work with and the process of scheduling a face to face meeting with an immigration officer at a local US CIS office is nearly prohibitive.

PUBLISHED October 30, 2022– “IMMIGRATION LAW FORUM” Copyright © 2022, By Law Offices of Richard Hanus, Chicago, Illinois

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