The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is responsible for adjudicating most cases including Naturalizations, Citizenship, Petitions for Alien Relative, Residency/Green Cards, Work Permits, Asylum, and Business Visas. Prior to the Trump Administration, the processing times varied between 4-8 months, but never over one year. In 2018, immigration lawyers started seeing an increase in processing times. The current immigration backlogs by USCIS are attributed to several factors. The biggest contributing factor has been internal memorandums that slow down the cases. For example, one new policy is now requiring officers to review past decisions made by other officers, even if years have passed. This significantly delays cases by almost double. Another policy requires a “last in first out” approach that causes older cases to be stale and possibly without finality for years. The overall number of applications filed in 2018 declined by 13 percent, while the processing times increased by 19 percent.
Processing times also vary by the local offices. In South Florida, there are (5) local offices: MIAMI FIELD OFFICE, HIALEAH FIELD OFFICE, KENDALL FIELD OFFICE, OAKLAND PARK FIELD OFFICE, and WEST PALM BEACH FIELD OFFICE. Each of these offices has their own backlogs. As of recently, the local offices have been scheduling cases within the other jurisdictions to speed up applications. The Miami Field Office is the slowest office in South Florida, but they have started interviewing on Saturdays again which should help ease the backlog.