5 Things That Can Delay Your Immigration Case

Does it seem like you’ve been waiting forever to adjust your status from visa holder to lawful permanent resident?  Has it been months or even years since you petitioned to have your parents join you in the US? Immigrating to the US and applying to adjust one’s status have never been instantaneous processes. At any given time, millions of people are waiting, sometimes for years, for the visa they need to travel to the US. Those who are already here feel like USCIS is taking forever to decide on their case.

If you’re one of them, you’re likely wondering, “Why is my immigration case taking so long?” Below is an overview of a few things that can cause delays.

  1. Case processing times are longer

Last January, the American Immigration Lawyers Association released a report stating that during the past two years, case processing times for immigrants seeking legal status increased by 46%. It found that:

  • In 2018, USCIS took an average of nine and a half months to process a case, which is nearly a month and a half longer than in 2017.
  • Case processing time for naturalization applications has increased from an average of five months in 2014 to 10 months in 2018.
  1. Quotas on family-based immigration

While there are no quotas on immediate relative petitions for spouses, minor children, and parents of US citizens, the family preference category is different. There is a limited number of visas made available each year for the following applicants (listed in order of preference):

  • Unmarried adult children of US citizens
  • Spouses and unmarried children of green card holders
  • Married children of US citizens
  • Siblings of US citizens

Theoretically, you could wait over 20 years to bring your brother or sister to the US. While not all waiting periods are this extreme, family preference quotas do create significant backlogs that can take years to process.

  1. Quotas on employment-based immigration

Like family-based immigration, there are yearly quotas on the number of skilled workers who receive visas. For example, there is a regular cap of 65,000 H-1B visas granted per year while the limit for EB-1 visas is around 40,000. If your application is not approved due to quota issues, you will have to wait.

  1. Too many cases and not enough judges  

According to the New York Times, as of January 2019, there were close to 800,000 applicants waiting for their cases to be resolved. Most were civil immigration issues, such as asylum seekers, people who overstayed their visas, and migrants who crossed the border illegally.

The Times stated that the average case takes 578 days to complete, but cases that result in asylum granting and other forms of relief last on average nearly three years. Immigration courts have been hiring more judges to process the backlog, bringing the current number to 395, but long wait times continue to be an issue.

  1. Background checks

USCIS runs a background check on all prospective immigrants to ensure that they are no threat to society. Depending on how many law enforcement agencies are involved in your situation, your check could take longer than others. If you have a surname that is common in your country of origin, such as Singh or Lee, it can delay the process even further.

Contact an Experienced Immigration Attorney

While immigration cases can take time, working with an experienced immigration attorney can ensure that there are no delays due to paperwork issues, missed application deadlines, and similar obstacles. At Sánchez-Roig Law Firm, P.A., we will prepare and file your petition in a timely manner and keep you updated on issues that can affect processing time. For more information or to schedule a consultation, call 305-373-5385 today.