Changes in Processing Times
On January 4, 2017, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it has changed how it posts processing times. Rather that listing weeks or ginning on January 4, 2017, months, it now provides specific dates. USCIS provides its customers with estimates of how long the waiting time is because individuals who submit petitions or applications for immigration benefits to USCIS often have to wait lengthy periods for the transaction to be completed. These processing times are posted on the USCIS website. Processing times are available by location (e.g. National Benefits Center, service center, or field office) and by filing type.
In the past, processing times were listed in one of two ways:
- Processing times related to publicly-announced production goals. USCIS established production goals for certain filing types. For example, USCIS set a five month processing time goal for N-400s (naturalization applications). If the office was meeting or exceeding the goal, meaning applications were being processed in five months or less, the processing time was listed as five months. In other words, the customer doesn’t have specific information about how long applications are actually taking, just that they are being processed within five months.
- If the office was not meeting its production goal, the chart listed the date of the last application the office worked on at the time the data was sent to the Office of Performance and Quality (OPQ), which is the office that regularly calculates processing times. This does not mean that all applications received as of that date had been adjudicated.
According to the USCIS announcement, the agency will now be using the second method for publishing processing times. The tables available on the USCIS processing times webpage now list a “Processing Cases As of Date.” Presumably, the date listed is the date of the last application that particular office worked on at the moment the processing data was sent to OPQ. This new format also means that USCIS no longer informs the public of its processing goals.