As USCIS workloads explode, long waits for green cards become the norm


As part of carrying out President Trump’s Executive Order 13780, ostensibly to protect the nation from terrorists, workloads for USCIS officers has dramatically increased. As a result, the backlog for all immigrants seeking green cards has nearly doubled since 2014 and longer wait times for interviews and other procedures have become much more common nationwide.

Beginning in October of 2017, as immigration officers continue face-to-face interviews for family-based green card applicants, they are now required to conduct face-to-face interviews for employment-based applicants as well. These interviews are expansive and include “spouses and the families” of applicants, meaning “hundreds of thousands of more people coming through” USCIS offices.

From USCIS’s perspective, family-based petitions have surpassed their projections, and that is the primary cause of increases in workload. Critics point out that USCIS is not budgeting to process the higher volume, for example by hiring more officers, even as it massively increases the number of in-person interviews for other types of cases. The longer processing times simply adhere to the general de-prioritization of legal immigration processes. In other words, the longer waits are a feature, not a bug.

According to Andrew, a U.S. citizen who petitioned for his wife Nang to get a green card through their marriage, it took over a year after their application was submitted before they were interviewed. According to Andrew, they had an “easy case” and an immigration attorney on their side, so he has great sympathy for those with more complicated cases.

To read more about this issue, including Andrew and Nang’s story, please see: