U.S. immigration cases don’t happen overnight. In fact, it can take several months to years for a case to become fully resolved, owing to the long processes and volume of applications. Immigration has acknowledged that the process can get lengthy, which is why they have set guidelines for the processing times of different types of immigration applications.

However, despite the time guide lines, things can be delayed even further. Some applicants’ cases can go beyond the ideal processing times, which is a problem that a lot of people experience.

Reasons for Delays in Processing Immigration Cases

The reason behind long processing times is the volume of different activities at each U.S. consulate. From family and employment visas to other categories of non-immigrant visas and American citizen services, there are a lot of papers to process and people to interview.

But the time it takes to handle these immigration cases can further lengthen because of other factors, including the COVID-19 pandemic and current staffing shortages in U.S. consulates.

COVID-19 Pandemic

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, immigration cases functioned relatively quickly. An applicant would be able to get an appointment within three to four months or six months in Ciudad Juarez, the busiest consulate in the world.

Due to health and safety restrictions brought about by the pandemic, a lot of the U.S. consulates around the world shut down for indefinite periods, depending on the COVID response of the country they are in. This put many of the U.S. consulates severely behind schedule.

Shortage of Staff

Recently, there was a hiring freeze in the State Department, which coincidentally affected the U.S. consulates. Hence, they are severely understaffed and are scrambling to hire consular officers who can lend a helping hand in processing these immigration cases. This can be a big contributor to current delays, aggravated further by COVID-19 restrictions.

What Can Be Done About the Delays 

In an effort to reduce processing times, the State Department has started to propose rules to waive some classes of visa interviews. Although it may help, lawyers and applicants alike are calling for the State Department to do more.

Our Facebook Page has an email newsletter that applicants can sign up for, as well as access links where they can contact people in charge, such as the Biden Administration, embassy, National Visa Center, senators, and local representatives.

Depending on the extent of delays and for the most egregious cases, lawyers can also file a mandamus lawsuit to ask the court to order the State Department to take action on delayed immigration cases.

Ultimately, the only solution to huge immigration delays is for the State Department to fix its policies, become more efficient, and hire more workers to handle the influx of applications.