Why Are USCIS Processing Times Increasing for Forms I-130, Petitions for Alien Relatives?

USCIS admits that processing times for I-130s for immediate relatives are skyrocketing. Here’s what their historic data shows:

FY 2015FY 2016FY 2017FY 2018FY 2019 (up to Mar. 31)
6.1 mo.6 mo.7.7 mo.9.7 mo.10.3 mo.

Currently, I-130 processing times for such cases are 11 to 14.5 months.

Processing backlogs are not new at USCIS. But several of the Trump administration’s policy changes have exacerbated the problem. Such changes include:

  • “Extreme vetting” of visa applicants
  • Policy to interview all employment-based applicants for Form I-485, Application to Adjust Status
  • Policy to interview more filers of Form I-751, Petition to Remove the Conditions on Residence
  • Burdensome and duplicative requests for evidence (RFEs) encouraged by USCIS management

Other policy changes that will slow down case processing are still being developed. Most prominently, USCIS plans to revamp rules regarding affidavits of support and public charge.

I-130 adjudications are funded by user fees, which were increased most recently 21% in 2016.

For immigration restrictionists in the Trump administration, like Stephen Miller, these backlogs are a feature, not a bug: they further the goal of reducing legal immigration by making it difficult for U.S. citizens to sponsor their relatives.

A report from the American Immigration Lawyers Association accurately sums it up:

Ballooning USCIS processing times leave families–including families with U.S. citizen spouses and children–in financial distress, exposes vulnerable protection seekers to danger and threatens the viability of American companies….

Yet rather than relieving the logjam, USCIS exacerbates it with policies that inhibit efficiency and prioritize immigration enforcement over the administration of legal immigration benefits. Such measures act as bricks in the Trump administration’s ‘invisible wall’ curbing legal immigration in the United States.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office has accepted a request from a bipartisan group of lawmakers to review and report on USCIS backlogs.

In the meanwhile, families should begin the immigration process as early as possible and plan for delays.

2 Replies to “Why Are USCIS Processing Times Increasing for Forms I-130, Petitions for Alien Relatives?”

  1. I don’t understand!
    These Legal Immigrants are trying to do the right thing by bringing their families to the US legally. Why are they being frustrated? Would you rather they go the other way and try to do it illegally?????

  2. It has been a very long process and lots of traveling involved. USCIS received my I-130 citizen petition for my spouse August 2018, meaning it will be a year now. Last couple of days, “processing times” site indicated the Nebraska office, was reviewing June 2018 applications. I checked today and it now says May 15th, 2018. I am so confused and sad.

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