Recently USCIS started sending letters to applicants explaining that their case would be further delayed by approximately six months. In the past, normal processing times were approximately 5 months. Some applicants have also received transfer notices without much further explanation. The letters may also state the delay is caused by workload factors unrelated to their cases. While it is unclear what is exactly causing these delays. It is nevertheless extremely frustrating, albeit whether the case is filed abroad or in the United States. These delays cause family members to encounter further stress and separation. It is believed that these delays are caused by an increase in filings of I-130s of approximately 60% and the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program which was initiated in August of 2012. The DACA program resulted from an Presidential executive order which may not given USCIS enough time to allocate their resources to handling those types of cases. Hence, other types of cases, such as I-130s have suffered the consequences of delays. Moreover, there has been an increase in I-130 filings which may have occurred as a result of the new I-601A program prompting more people to have the ability to file for immediate relatives.
For some, there may be another basis for immigrating or the ability to obtain a nonimmigrant visa, such as an K-1 fiance or K-3 spouse petition. These options should be explored before filing I-130s due to the extended processing delays. Some cases may also be eligible for expedited processing. The following factors may be considered for expediting cases:
- Extreme emergent situation
- Humanitarian needs
- Department of Defense or National Interest Situation
- Severe financial loss
- USCIS error
- Compelling interest of USCIS
While it is uncertain how long these processing delays will last, reviewing other immigration options may help to prevent unexpected delays under certain circumstances.
A qualified immigration attorney can guide you through the process and help you explore additional immigration options.