One of the issues that we face the most in our immigration practice is the lack of clarity and/or transparency in the processing times that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services ("USCIS") has for adjudicating petitions. This makes clients frustrated on many levels, but it is something that has become the new normal in our immigration environment.
For example, we've had several EB-1 petitions pending for considerably longer than the USCIS published processing time, but despite multiple case status requests, nothing happens. In one case, we are going on more than 18 months and the published USCIS processing time is a maximum of 11 months. That case involves a multinational U.S. company that has worldwide revenues of over $60 million. At the same time, we have been receiving approvals on similar petitions within a period of less than 8 months. How can this be? There is simply no excuse.
In one of several EB-5 petitions that we've presented, we have been waiting more than 21 months and when we inquired regarding the status of that petition, the published USCIS processing times were suddenly changed to a maximum of 49.5 months. It seems as if someone is simply playing with the numbers.
Moreover, unless the client wants to litigate the case in federal court, which we have advised is an option, there is nothing that can be done. In fact, in an I-130 marriage petition (where a USC marries a foreign national), we've requested expediated processing because of a critical medical condition, but USCIS responded that expedited processing was not available because the condition was not an emergency. In that case, the U.S. citizen client needed to have emergency surgery and her physician provided a letter stating that because of the nature of the surgery, the foreign national husband should be present for the surgery. USCIS's response that the condition was not an emergency was disgusting and alarming. As such, the foreign national husband cannot come to the U.S. and the surgery, despite considered an emergency by the client's physician, is being unreasonably delayed.
Yet, these are the times we are living with. Indeed, the average processing time is up 46 percent since 2016 despite the fact that the number of new applications being submitted is actually lower than previous years.
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If you have any questions regarding immigration law, please do not hesitate to contact me, Santiago J. Padilla, Esq., either at 800-483-7197, or [email protected]