Processing Times

Several agencies publish the processing times of certain of their offices. The following are available through this site:

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (formerly “INS”), through USCIS, publishes processing times concerning filings in the 5 USCIS “service centers,” the adjudication factories that handle most types of immigration benefit requests anymore, as well as the many USCIS “district offices” (including their sub-offices) where a relatively small but important range of filings are decided concerning permanent residence and citizenship. These processing times reports, which USCIS is trying to update every two weeks or so, provide a general idea about the date of filing of cases on which the relevant office generally is working, broken out for each type of filing. Additionally, for service center filings only (i.e., those filings that have generated to the filing party or attorney a receipt number beginning with the three letter code of the service center, i.e., LIN, SRC, MSC), USCIS also affords petitioners, beneficiaries and applicants the opportunity to conduct a “case status search” by typing in the receipt number and seeing information on the actual status of the case generated from the USCIS case management system. Often an action on a case can be discovered a few weeks faster than the when the paper “notice of action” is received.

The U.S. Department of Labor publishes processing times only concerning the permanent and similar H-2B labor certification processes. The Backlog Center provides limited information on the progress of DOL’s elimination of the backlog from state offices in permanent labor certifications before PERM.

The U.S. Department of State publishes Visa Wait Times for the scores of consulates throughout the world who handle visa applications. State also publishes the Visa Bulletin, which reflects the backlogs that will apply to real eligibility for permanent residence regardless of how long the immigrant petition takes to process elsewhere. But this only reflects the latest initial filing dates of approved petitions that are resulting in eligibility to file for permanent residence today. Heavier or lighter filings in the meantime may cause newer cases to take longer or shorter than what appears from the Bulletin today.

The State Department’s J-1 Waiver Review Branch maintains estimated processing times and a case status function for J-1 waiver applications that are currently pending at the Waiver Review Branch (i.e., not at USCIS for initial processing of a hardship or persecution waiver, at a foreign embassy awaiting a “no objection letter,” at a federal agency an agency request, or at a state health department awaiting request for a “Conrad 30” waiver, and not after State Department recommendation has been sent to USCIS).

How We Can Help

Baker Donelson’s Immigration Team interfaces with all these agencies on behalf of clients. We keep up with processing times to expect where that information is available, but we focus on picking the best strategy (what to file for) filing the right papers in the right place (how to file) as quickly as possible, because those are the things that tend to reduce processing times the most. We help sort through whether a case is within new processing times or requires special attention. When cases occasionally become stuck through loss by the government or other mishap, we can pursue all reasonable channels to obtain action on the case.

Consult with us for assistance with a case.