USCIS Announces New Cycle Time Goals

I recently wrote about how USCIS processing times for family-sponsored immigration, which increased during the Trump administration, remain stubbornly high. For example, adjudication of a Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, on behalf of a citizen’s spouse or child, can take up to 16 months. And that’s just the first of multiple steps for the spouse or child to apply to enter the U.S.

More broadly, the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) has reported that for many types of employment and family-sponsored immigration the Biden administration has been unable to make a dent USCIS “still-growing backlog and has allowed its already crisis-level processing delays to continue to grow.”

USCIS today announced that it is working to reduce case processing times.

Specifically, the agency has set goals to reduce “cycle times” by Sept. 30, 2023, as follows:

new cycle time goals

The agency defines “cycle time” an internal metric calculating “how many months’ worth of pending cases for a particular form are awaiting a decision.”

This is a similar concept to processing times, which “show the average amount of time it [takes] USCIS to process a particular form–from when the agency receive[s] the application until a decision [is] made on the case.”

The concepts of cycle times and processing times are closely related. USCIS says that “as cycle times improve, processing times will follow, and applicants and petitioners will receive decisions on their cases more quickly.”

Law360 (subscription required) reports that the federal government’s fiscal year 2023 budget asks Congress for USCIS funding to be ramped up from under $400 million to more than $900 million, with $765 million earmarked for clearing up processing backlogs at the agency.

The announcement of USCIS’ new cycle times doesn’t specify that implementation will turn on Congressional approval of the 2023 budget, but that seems likely.

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