Published November 16, 2018
Applicants for immigration benefits in the U.S. such as lawful permanent residence, citizenship, employment authorization document (EAD), advance parole travel document (AP) and for removal of conditional basis on residence are seeing processing of their filings plagued by extraordinary delays. Finding a reason for these delays is not easy, since processing costs are funded by applicant filing fees (not taxpayer money) and there has been no substantial change in the processing environment. Thus the only rational explanation would be that the administration has made a choice to slow down processing, a choice that has caused havoc in countless numbers of applicants’ lives as well as for applicants’ employers.
I-485 Applications for Lawful Permanent Residence based on family relationship: Foreign nationals seeking to be processed for permanent residence (green card) in the U.S. by way of an I-485 application and family based petition are experiencing processing times ranging from 10-12 months. The most common family relationship serving as the basis of this type of filing is that of spouse of a U.S. citizen. All marriage based applicants, and most other family based applicants, can expect to be scheduled for an adjustment of status interview at their local DHS/CIS office within 10-12 months of filing. If all goes well at the interview, green cards are typically issued within 2-4 weeks thereafter.
I-765 Applications for Employment Authorization Document/I-131 Applications for Advance Parole Travel Document: Processing times for these types of applications range from 90 days (for employment based applicants) to 180 days or more (for family based applicants). These processing times apply to both initial applications as well as for renewals. The good news is that the filing receipts for renewal of EAD’s provide for an automatic 6 month extension of current document validity for various classes of applicants, including pending family and employment based adjustment of status applicants. The bad news is that sometimes the automatic 6 month extension is not enough and that it takes more than 6 months to facilitate renewal. For applicants renewing a current EAD or AP, the best advice is to seek renewal in as much time in advance as the application instructions allow.
I-751 – Petition to Remove Conditional Basis of Permanent Residence: Marriage based applicants for residence are typically issued a 2 year green card to start, and at the end of that two year period, a petition to remove the conditional basis on residence must be submitted. Processing times for this type of filing have skyrocketed to 18 months or more, and just the issuance of the CIS filing receipt has been taking 6 weeks or more as of late. The delays in filing receipt issuance are especially problematic, since the receipt serves to extend the card’s validity for the period the I-751 petition remains pending. Without the receipt, an applicant may find themselves without proof of status for purposes of employment authorization or for international travel. The remedy for individuals in this situation is to schedule an INFOPASS appointment to appear at their local DHS/CIS office to obtain a stamp on their passport confirming their status and to allow for continued employment and reentry into the U.S. following international travel.
N-400 Application for Naturalization: Applicants nationwide are seeing processing times growing, with applicants in the Chicago area waiting approximately 10-12 months to be scheduled for interview. Approved applicants usually are scheduled for an oath ceremony within 30 days of their interview.
PUBLISHED November 16, 2018– “IMMIGRATION LAW FORUM” Copyright © 2018, By Law Offices of Richard Hanus, Chicago, Illinois