USCIS Announces New Actions to Reduce Backlogs, Expand Premium Processing, and Provide Relief to Work Permit Holders
USCIS- on March 29, USCIS announced a trio of efforts to increase efficiency and reduce burdens to the overall legal immigration system. USCIS will set new agency-wide backlog reduction goals, expand premium processing to additional form types, and work to improve timely access to employment authorization documents.
Reducing Processing Backlogs
To reduce the agency’s pending caseload, USCIS is establishing new internal cycle time goals this month. These goals are internal metrics that guide the backlog reduction efforts of the USCIS workforce and affect how long it takes the agency to process cases. As cycle times improve, processing times will follow, and applicants and petitioners will receive decisions on their cases more quickly. USCIS will increase capacity, improve technology, and expand staffing to achieve these new goals by the end of FY 2023.
The agency’s publicly posted processing times show the average amount of time it took USCIS to process a particular form – from when the agency received the application until a decision was made on the case. Internally, USCIS monitors the number of pending cases in the agency’s workload through a metric called “cycle times.” A cycle time measures how many months’ worth of pending cases for a particular form are awaiting a decision. The new goals are below:
Expanding Premium Processing
DHS announced a final rule that aligns premium processing regulations with the Emergency Stopgap USCIS Stabilization Act.
Premium processing is an expedited adjudication service now available only to petitioners filing a Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, and to certain employment-based immigrant visa petitioners filing a Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers. This final rule expands the categories of forms to include Form I-539, Form I-765 and additional classifications under Form I-140, through a phased approach in fiscal year 2022.
Improving Access to Employment Authorization Documents
USCIS continues to make progress toward a temporary final rule currently named “Temporary Increase of the Automatic Extension Period of Employment Authorization and Documentation for Certain Renewal Applicants.”
In recent months, USCIS has begin streamlining many EAD processes, including extending validity periods for certain EADs and providing expedited work authorization renewals for healthcare and childcare workers. The temporary final rule aims to build on this progress and to ensure certain individuals will not lose their work authorization status while their applications are pending.
USCIS Announces Online Filing for DACA Renewal Forms
USCIS announced on April 14 that individuals who previously received deferred action under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) may now file Form I-821D, Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, online.
At this time, the option to file online is only available for individuals who have previously been granted DACA. Such individuals must also file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, which is available for online filing, as well as the Form I-765 Worksheet, which is required as evidence in support of the filing for DACA. To file Form I-821D and Form I-765 online, a DACA requestor must first create a USCIS online account. There is no cost to set up an account, which offers a variety of features, including the ability to communicate with USCIS through a secure inbox and respond online to Requests for Evidence.