The Anwari Law Firm discusses how lawyers are fighting the delay in immigration cases.

Processing times for immigration cases are the longest they have ever been. Even immigration attorneys, all too familiar with lengthy delays, can be moved by frustration to take action. This is precisely what happened in the summer of 2019 when these immigration lawyers faced a crisis — some of their clients had already waited seven years for their immigration applications to be processed. To add to their desperation, the government had closed down the informal lines of communication that previously facilitated at least some legal shortcuts in such matters. 

Competent immigration attorneys are hard to find to begin with. When those in need find these professionals hamstrung by the system, a feeling of desperation ensues. Fortunately, good immigration attorneys are dedicated to their clients, prepared to take difficult actions when the situation becomes untenable.

Delays Are Not Just Inconvenient — They Cause Hardship

Although it has been customary for lawyers not to file lawsuits until the predictable delay periods have elapsed, by this past summer the “expected” delays had been extended to the point of absurdity. Since some of the most egregious delays were occurring with visa petitions, foreign investors were routinely waiting from 30 to 85 months for their EB-5 immigrant investor program cases to be decided by the courts. Even foreign investors applying for green cards through the EB-5 program were facing a wait time of up to 49 months.

Perhaps even worse, workers being sponsored for specialty occupation visas (H-1B) and graduates applying for work permits through the optional practical training program (F-1 visas) were waiting for many months for the right to work in this country. Individuals looking to put their skills to use and receive a reasonable income became more and more discouraged and their compassionate immigration attorneys, unable to expedite matters for deserving clients, became more and more frustrated. 

To give you an idea of the incongruous length of typical delays in the sphere of immigration — just replacing a green card typically takes a year or more. Clearly, this is not acceptable, especially in a country founded by immigrants. These outrageous delays finally drew the attention of U.S. legislators, who arranged for a House Judiciary Immigration and Citizenship Subcommittee hearing in July.

The Disturbing Facts About Immigration Services

The following pieces of information were revealed at the hearing by American Immigration Lawyers Association President Marketa Lindt. Each is based on United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) data:

  • Overall processing times leaped 91 percent from fiscal years 2014 to 2018
  • The backlog for 2018 stood at 5.69 million cases (a 69 percent increase from 2014)

According to The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), these astounding delays are at least partially the result of the Trump administration’s immigration policies.

Steps the USCIS Has Taken Do Not Go Far Enough to Solving the Problem

Despite the steps the agency has announced it’s taking to remove blockages to immigration processes, immigration attorneys consider them ineffective. The USCIS states that it has implemented a series of procedural reforms, such as:

  • Hiring additional staff
  • Expanding its facilities
  • Redistributing workloads
  • Permitting extended overtime
  • Establishing new technological solutions
  • Realigning its field offices

Even though the agency has increased its processing of naturalization applications from just under 300,000 in September 2010 to almost 700,00 in January 2017, and has nearly doubled its workforce during the last decade, the situation remains critical.

No Choice But To Sue, According to Immigration Attorneys

Immigration attorneys, who deal with the painful fallout from delays in immigration procedures on a daily basis, state that they have no alternative but to sue. The lack of access to officials who can cut through some of the red tape seems to be the deal-breaker. 

Where immigration attorneys used to have avenues of communication at their disposal, they are no longer allowed to contact immigration officers or supervisors until after the posted processing times—times that they find prohibitively long. Add to this the reality that, once permitted to call, they have to wait on hold for hours and then be available for the next 72 hours to receive a responding call about an appointment time. If they miss the callback, they have to start the process again from the beginning.

It’s not hard to see how dehumanizing the process becomes when bureaucracy amps up and the goal is lost sight of. If not for the hardworking immigration attorneys who make it their mission to advocate tirelessly for their clients, even more individuals with a great deal to offer to our country would be denied the opportunity. 

Call the Anwari Law Firm today to discuss filing a lawsuit if your case has been delayed.

Posted in: Immigration