Immigration Cases Are Taking Longer Than Ever
Processing times at immigration agencies have hit record-highs. One of those agencies, United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), publishes their normal processing times to tell you how long your case is expected to take. But cases often take much longer.
Fortunately, however, you can do a few things to speed up your case processing at USCIS. Below are some helpful tips to minimize delays.
Make Sure You've Submitted All Fees and Evidence
To speed up processing of your immigration case, you need to make sure that you’ve submitted all the basic forms, evidence, and filing fees for your case. If you’re missing just one form or document, you’re virtually guaranteed to add another 2 months to your processing time.
Keep in mind that when USCIS decides it’s missing something, it won’t call you on the phone, tell you what they need, and have you email it to them. USCIS will instead send you a letter in the mail and give you from 1 to 4 months to respond. After you mail in what they need, USCIS will often take an additional 2 to 3 months just to process new information and documents.
Therefore, it’s critical to make sure that your application is complete.
Let’s look at the example of a green card application based on marriage to a U.S. Citizen. There are fees and lot of forms to include:
- All Fees
- Form I-130 (Visa Petition)
- Form I-485 (Green Card Application)
- Form I-131 (Travel Permit Application)
- Form I-765 (Work Permit Application)
- Form I-864 (Affidavit of Support)
- Form I-944 (Declaration of Self-Sufficiency)
In addition to the forms themselves, each application requires basic evidence to meet the legal requirements. For example, for most green card applications you have to submit a Form I-864, Affidavit of Support, which helps to show that the person who’s petitioning (petitioner) makes enough money to support the green card applicant. 864, you have to submit a copy of the petitioner’s most recent tax return, proof of income, and maybe even proof of assets.
If the petitioner doesn’t submit the right evidence, expect USCIS to send a Request for Evidence (RFE) asking for additional proof of income, or for a second Form I-864 from a joint sponsor (someone else who meets the income requirements).
In any case, the point is that the best way to avoid delays is to submit everything required up front. If you’ve already filed an immigration case but realize that you haven’t sent everything then you the missing items after filing. Before sending in the required documents, however, make sure that you know where to send them, which you can figure out by checking your USCIS case status and your Receipt Notice.
Respond to Requests for Evidence As Fast as Possible
Second, you can speed up the processing times and avoid delays by responding to Requests for Evidence (RFE) quickly. RFEs are letters sent by USCIS to tell you that there is information or documents missing. RFEs also state a deadline for responding.
If you receive an RFE in the mail, it’ll often give you several months to respond. You don’t have to wait this long though. If you have what USCIS needs and respond immediately, then immigration officials can immediately resume processing your case.
But be careful not to rush it. It’s better to submit the right evidence than to just answer them quickly. So if you need several weeks to gather the requested evidence, it’s better to wait until you have everything to respond.
If you respond with insufficient evidence or the wrong evidence, then USCIS could easily deny your case. If you’re not sure what immigration officials are asking for, then it may be time to hire an experienced immigration lawyer to respond on your behalf.
Attend Your Fingerprint Appointment On The Scheduled Day
Third, you can speed up your immigration case by attending your fingerprint appointment and any interview the first time around, instead of rescheduling.
Many times when you apply for an immigration benefit with USCIS you will be given a biometrics appointment (fingerprinting) or scheduled for an in-person interview at one of their local field offices. When you get one of these appointment notices from USCIS, you almost always have the option of requesting to reschedule.
But to get a new appointment, you may have to wait anywhere from 1 to 3 months. Even delaying your fingerprints can have significant consequences. For example, if you’ve applied for a green card using the Form I-485, you may also have applied for a work permit (Form I-765) or travel permit (I-131). Until you get your fingerprints done, USCIS will not issue you the work permit or permission to travel.
Bottom line: If you want to speed up your immigration case, avoid rescheduling interviews and fingerprint appointments.
In conclusion, if you have done everything you need to do, but USCIS is still delaying your immigration case, then it is time to look at how to fix the delay. Until you reach that point, make sure and do everything within your power to speed up processing of your immigration case.