U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services hosted a public engagement session on May 18, 2022 to report on backlog reduction efforts. Even before the pandemic processing times were reaching crisis proportions. The pandemic took the agency nearly to the breaking point. Fortunately, USCIS is making progress to get through the millions of pending cases and finally began to see improvements this year. Plans call for continuing to expand premium processing and hire additional personnel to deliver the processing times stakeholders expect.
The other news is that when people work faster and longer hours, mistakes are inevitable. In the last six months, there have been numerous reports of green cards issued with incorrect information, such as the wrong date or country of birth, and I-797 Approval Notices with missing or conflicting information. With this in mind, be sure to check all documents from USCIS immediately when you receive them to verify the information. If there are substantive mistakes, use the Tools page of uscis.gov to report the mistake and request a corrected document.
Another problem that has arisen has been the delivery of green cards through the U.S. Postal Service. When USCIS sends green cards, the online case status reports the USPS tracking number. In most cases, USPS delivers the green card several weeks after USCIS approves the application. In a growing number of cases, however, USPS either never delivers the green card or reports that it has delivered the card, but the would-be recipient never gets it. This creates a problem if you’re changing jobs or traveling internationally, because you need the green card for both. Until a few years ago, you simply could book your own appointment at a local USCIS office to get a temporary green card stamp in your passport. USCIS now requires you first to submit an I-90 application to report that you never received your green card and then call the Customer “Contact” Center to request the appointment. You then might get a return call in a few days or a month or more later to arrange the appointment. A planning tip here is that if you don’t have your green card in your hand within a month of when USCIS approves your application, submit the I-90 application and make the request for the appointment. If your green card turns up in the meantime, simply withdraw the I-90 application. There is no filing fee for the I-90 in this situation.
It’s a classic case of good news and other news. For the most part, processing times are improving, and the mistakes and missing documents are the exception. Look for USCIS to announce filing fee increases to help pay for all this.