Processing immigration applications has slowed down significantly since the Trump Administration took office. It seems that the USCIS – United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, the agency that reviews the applications, is putting more resources into immigration enforcement rather than processing citizenship applications. The approach the USCIS is currently taking towards legal immigration goes against the agency’s original mandate. Its clearly defined priorities were to eliminate application backlogs—and prevent future delays. Its purpose was to provide immigration benefits to customers; as opposed to functioning like an enforcement agency. But it’s a new era, a new president. USCIS processing delays and application backlogs are having a devastating impact on the legal immigration system. New security protocols such as in-person interviews with employment-based green card applicants and a revamp of the refugee program is dragging out processing times. As a result, this is having a negative effect on families and employers nationwide. Families struggle to pay the bills, survivors of violence and torture face danger, and U.S. companies fall behind. The federal agency blamed the delays on a steep rise in applications. According to an analysis by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), from Fiscal Year 2017 to 2018, processing times had increased by 19 percent even though receipts of new applications had declined 17 percent. So the delays cannot be reasonably blamed on rising workload.
Donald Trump’s hardline views on immigrants, both legal and illegal, is driving an unusual explosion in U.S. citizenship applications. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) now have 709,000 applications, and are having a hard time dealing with the enormous backlog. This number of applications is extraordinary because there is usually a surge in applications before an election, not after. For example citizenship applications almost doubled before Barack Obama’s election, and then dropped below 600,000. The highest increase is in Texas because of its number of potential citizens, with a jump of 61%. 1 million applications are expected in 2018. U.S. citizenship provides security and the right to vote. Under Trump’s rules, a legal permanent resident can be deported for a growing number of offences. He and his policies appear to be the motivation behind a large number of applications. National and local organizations, including the Mexican consulate in Dallas, have been providing greater resources and support, such as citizenship workshops, to encourage people to apply for citizenship. Being a US citizen offers added protection from deportation and can impact a person’s financial situation positively. According to a 2012 economic study, a citizen is more likely to be employed, and earns more than a non-citizen. The citizenship applications backlog is worrying. The average national waiting time is about 9 months right now according to USCIS. USCIS has increased funding for employee overtime and is recruiting new employees, but it might not be enough. The backlog can be seen as a “second wall” according to the National Partnership for New Americans. Legal permanent residents must have lived in the United States for 5 years before they can apply for citizenship. They must also pass a citizenship test assessing their abilities to speak, write and read in English. As well, their knowledge of American government, American principles of democracy, rights and responsibilities of U.S. citizenship, American history, American geography, American symbols and American holidays is assessed. You can learn more about the citizenship application with this article: U.S. Citizenship Application – Understand the process You can learn more about the citizenship test with these articles: U.S. Citizenship Test – What is it all about? U.S. Citizenship Test – How to prepare for it? Are you preparing for your U.S. citizenship test? Our FREE U.S. Citizenship Test Online Training Program is up-to-date and will help you pass your test first time.
According to a report from the Department of Homeland Security Department (DHS), 858 immigrants who were supposed to have been deported, were granted U.S. citizenship instead due to insufficient digital fingerprint records. The report, released in September, is the result of an inquiry aiming at finding out whether U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has been using personal data adequately in the U.S. citizenship application process. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration officer uses only digital fingerprint records during their assessment of a citizenship application. But, it appears that about 148,000 fingerprints, which have not been digitized yet, correspond to people who are to be deported, or who have a criminal history. These fingerprints were compiled before Homeland Security set up their digital fingerprint database in 2007. In 4 of those 858 cases, people were even able to obtain security-sensitive jobs such as airports, ports or law enforcement. These jobs have been revoked since the report was released. There are also some information-sharing deficiencies between the DHS and the FBI. The FBI, who has maintained their own digital fingerprint database since 1999, is also missing fingerprint records because the DHS did not systematically forward to the FBI all fingerprints resulting from immigration cases. The report does not include the names of the 858 immigrants or their countries of origin, but it does recommend that all 858 cases are to be reviewed. All immigrants found not eligible for U.S. citizenship by the review are to be stripped of their citizenship. The report also recommends that all old fingerprints be digitized. The DHS said they agree with the report’s recommendations and that they start to apply corrective measures. Do you need preparing for your US citizenship test? We offer a free U.S. Citizenship Test Online Training. Check it out!