USCIS Aims to Reduce Backlogs, Expand Premium Processing, and Provide Relief to Work Permit Holders
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is announcing a trio of efforts to increase efficiency and reduce burdens to the overall legal immigration system. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and resource constraints resulting from the prior administration, USCIS inherited a significant number of pending cases and increased processing times. Through recent actions by the Biden administration, USCIS is acting to reduce these caseloads and processing times, while also ensuring that fair and efficient services are available to applicants and petitioners. To reduce the agency’s pending caseload, USCIS is establishing new internal cycle time goals. As cycle times improve, applicants and petitioners will receive decisions on their cases more quickly. USCIS will increase capacity, improve technology, and expand staffing to achieve these new goals by the end of Fiscal Year 2023. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced a final rule that codifies premium processing fees and adjudication timeframes provided by Congress. This final rule expands the categories of forms ultimately eligible for premium processing services, including Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status; Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization; and additional classifications under Form I-140. USCIS outlined efforts to improve timely access to employment authorization documents. Currently, USCIS continues to make progress toward a temporary final rule currently named “Temporary Increase of the Automatic Extension Period of Employment Authorization and Documentation for Certain Renewal Applicants.” The temporary final rule aims to continue streamlining many EAD processes and to ensure certain individuals will not lose their work authorization status while their applications are pending. See link to view USCIS news release.