Bureaucratic delays lead to longer wait for green cards

In 2012, President Obama announced the beginning of a new program designed to provide deportation deferrals to some undocumented immigrants. While this program sought to address a significant problem, it created another: because the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service had to refocus its resources, the family members of many American citizens have been forced to wait too long for their green cards.

Up until relatively recently, many regarded receiving a visa for a foreign spouse, parent or child as one of the least burdensome processes in the U.S. immigration system. In fact, the whole process usually took approximately five months or less. Since 2012, however, USCIS has fallen behind in issuing these visas, and approximately 500,000 applications are stuck in process. In just over a year, the wait for a visa has gone from five months to 15. As a result of these delays, individuals have been separated from their children and spouses for far too long.

Families and immigration experts have been quick to criticize the efforts of USCIS to expedite the processing of applications for family visas. For its part, the agency announced last year that it had reallocated some resources and was able to bring down the average waiting period to about 10 months. Officials at the USCIS have said that they will continue to work until the wait time has returned to five months, but they do not expect that to happen any time in the next few months.

Generally, there is a limited waiting period for these sorts of visas because there is no pre-set annual limit. The longest step in the process is usually approval of the application by the USCIS, which then requires approval by the U.S. State Department. Unfortunately, with these delays, families are left with few options but to wait. It is illegal for someone to enter the U.S. under a tourist visa if their application for residency is currently in process.

While the USCIS appears to be taking steps to alleviate this issue, these sorts of problems underscore the necessity for meaningful immigration reform. Until meaningful reform is implemented, families in the U.S. will continue to experience significant problems.

For more information about visas for a foreign spouse, child or parent, speak to an experienced immigration attorney. An immigration attorney can explain your options and can help you navigate the process. Do not delay, speak to an immigration attorney today.

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