The Ombudsman’s report of the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) shows extensive backlogs of processing millions of immigration cases, which are credited to the effects of the pandemic and some of the policies of the Agency. Thus, the NPZ Law Group explains what was learned through the Ombudsman’s report.
What the Ombudsman’s Report Entailed
The Ombudsman’s Office provided the USCIS with recommendations on about how to address consistent funding challenges for the Agency, which has been credited with hindering the USCIS from completing its congressionally-defined mission to provide quick, fair, and consistent adjudications to customers. In addition to that, it discussed the lack of appropriate staffing for managing the overwhelming backlogs.
Congress, in the past does not provide the USCIS with appropriations or funding for the Agency’s humanitarian services (such as asylum and refugee programs). Therefore, the USCIS does not have adequate resources to manage evolving policy directives and other priorities. Thus, since early 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic started, there have been more than 5 million applications backlogged due to processing delays.
It Faulted the Fee-for-Service Model
The Ombudsman’s report also explained that the USCIS uses a fee-for-service model for its operations. As a result, the fees collected from application fees contributed 97% of the operational budget. In addition, the Agency must set its fee structures by following the Administrative Procedures Act (APA), which incurs a delay of a year or two. In turn, the USCIS creates fee structures that offer them just enough funding to get by, making it challenging to use resources to get through backlogs.
It Faulted Its Staffing Model
The Ombudsman’s report also explained that the USCIS’s process for hiring and training new staff members was taking way too long. 3 to 4 months go into getting an adjudicator onboard, and then each adjudicator must attend a 6-week long training program in which they learn all about basic immigration policies.
In addition, USCIS also hired new staff based on the cost of new and future applications, leaving out the millions of backlogged cases in that decision.
Recommendations by the Ombudsman
The Ombudsman’s report recommended that the USCIS alter its fee review process to both reduce the processing time for future application filings and to hire enough staff to deal with backlogged cases.
In addition to receiving the Ombudsman’s recommendations, the USCIS has also asked for more appropriations from Congress for the new fiscal year. Moreover, the USCIS is in the process of hiring more personnel to manage the significant backlogs of immigration cases. These steps will both make a significant improvement in the application processing times for existing and new applications.
If you have any questions about how the immigration and nationality laws in the United States may impact you or your family members or if you want to access additional information about the United States or Canadian immigration and nationality laws, please feel free to get in touch with the immigration and nationality lawyers at NPZ Law Group. You can send us an email at email@example.com, or you can call us at 201-670-0006 extension 104. In addition, we invite you to find more information on our website at www.visaserve.com.