On June 28, 2018, Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman Julie Kirchner published her most recent annual report to Congress, revealing USCIS’ intensified anti-fraud initiatives as well as confirming processing delays for multiple applications.

The Ombudsman’s Office is an independent entity, created by Congress, designed to recommend policy changes to the citizenship and immigration process as well as aide individuals who are going through it.

Delays in Adjudication

Although the Annual Report contained several specific action plans designed to improve the efficacy of USCIS, the Ombudsman conceded that they do not improve the efficiency of the Service.

It has been a recent initiative of USCIS to rely on electronic case management rather than the past paper system. The goal of this transformation is to shorten processing delays. However, the new case management system, ELIS, has been experiencing many functionality issues that have increased the length of these delays instead.

Technical issues with ELIS have also interfered with background checks, in particular. Leading to longer processing times for cases requiring this process.

Furthermore, USCIS rarely communicates the reason behind the delays. Following this, the Ombudsman recommends that the Service begin disclosing this information to applicants in order to restore some confidence.

Although these delays persist in all categories, they are most notably an issue with employment authorization document application (I-765), leading some to believe that there will be an increased incentive to claim asylum in order to obtain this authorization.

The other application types that are particularly vulnerable to delays are: I-485s and N-400s.