U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services processed a record 10 million immigration cases last fiscal year and strengthened employment-based immigration, according to information the agency recently published.

Key Points:

  • USCIS received 10.9 million filings and completed more than 10 million pending cases, effectively reducing overall backlogs by 15%.
  • USCIS says the FY 2023 data demonstrates significant progress in meeting four key strategic priorities: reducing backlogs, improving customer experience, addressing humanitarian needs and strengthening employment-based immigration.
  • Other FY 2023 highlights related to employment-based immigration included:
  • Issuing more than 192,000 employment-based immigrant visas — more than pre-pandemic numbers — and ensuring that no available visas went unused.
  • Increasing the maximum validity period of Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) to five years for adjustment of status applicants.
  • Publishing a regulation designed to strengthen the integrity of the H-2 temporary worker program.

Additional Information: Due to COVID-era funding and staffing challenges, USCIS had a steep hill to climb in restoring operations to pre-pandemic levels. In 2022, the agency set goals to shorten processing timelines, including target “cycle times” for 25 form types. By the end of FY 2023, USCIS achieved its cycle time goals for nine of those 25 forms, including naturalization, and reduced cycle times for all but one of the 25 forms.

BAL Analysis: The agency released information about its progress tackling backlogs shortly after it published a final rule to raise USCIS fees for the first time since 2016. The business community had urged USCIS to take additional steps to reduce backlogs and inefficiencies before raising fees. The agency has said it will use the additional revenue to meet processing demands and prevent future backlogs. BAL will continue to monitor the implementation of the fee increases and USCIS processing and provide updates as information becomes available.

Register for BAL’s Feb. 28 live webinar 2024 USCIS fee and H-1B rules for helpful insights that will help you plan for the fee changes, their impact on your budget and what comes next.

This alert has been provided by the BAL U.S. Practice Group.

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