Unites States Citizenship and Immigration Services has recently revealed that the agency has a backlog of Naturalization cases that will take around three years to clear. The Agency attributes this to a surge in application noted since June 2007.
The surge was most probably a combined result of the Agency’s decision to almost doubling the Naturalization fee from July 2007 and a recent political campaign for the US election, which is pressing for immigrants to Naturalize.
Reasons aside, USCIS has revealed that in the summer of 2007, the agency had received around 737,223 applications and by the beginning of the fiscal year i.e. October 2007, it had approximately 1 million naturalization applications to process.
Subsequently, the processing times have also reached a staggering scale of 16 to 18 months, compared to the usual 6-month timeframe.
To tackle the backlog, USCIS has already hired additional employees and plans to hire or contract out a thousand more workers, increased the work hours, assigned dedicated staff members for application processing etc. Interestingly enough, lawyers pressing for speedy processing of their client’s application have found surprising allies in Senators and Congressmen, who are suddenly faced with the reality that more than half a million people will not be eligible to vote in the November 2008 presidential elections.
Criticisms are rolling in from both lawyers and politicians, who are arguing that USCIS should have geared up for this surge, as it was anticipated. It has also been pointed out that USCIS had increased the applications fees last year on the premises that the additional funds will “cut-down on the processing time” in future.