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DALLASMarch 3, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Immigration technology provider Dunasi, in partnership with leading immigration firm BAL, has released a groundbreaking white paper, detailing their analysis of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) processing times. Leveraging 40 years of immigration experience and aggregated data from over 1.5 million cases, BAL compared its data to USCIS data to determine how accurate USCIS processing estimates are and to identify trends in processing timelines. 2021 Processing Time Trends – Dunasi (

“With the coronavirus pandemic compounding immigration delays, our clients need a trusted source to give them an accurate answer about their case processing time,” said Chanille Juneau, Chief Technology Officer at BAL. “We know BAL’s projections tend to be more accurate than USCIS estimates, so we did a deep dive into the data to help immigration applicants understand what to expect for each case type.”

The white paper analyzes the accuracy of USCIS predictions and recent processing trends, answering frequently asked questions such as: “How do USCIS processing time predictions compare with actual processing times?” and “Which application types are most delayed?”

Along with pinpointing the case types and service centers experiencing the lengthiest processing delays, the paper evaluates the role of recent immigration developments on processing times, such as the DHS Office of the Inspector General’s report criticizing USCIS’s manual processing system.

After identifying some concerning USCIS trends, the paper looks at USCIS plans to modernize its processes and speed case resolution. Drawing on BAL’s legal expertise, the paper also offers practical strategies for foreign nationals to improve their case processing times.

“We’re proud to lead the industry in innovative immigration technology, and we feel an obligation to use our wealth of tech expertise to benefit people around the world,” said BAL Managing Partner Jeremy Fudge. “That’s exactly what we’ve done in this report; Chanille and her team have discovered useful insights, identifying USCIS trends and discrepancies, to give foreign nationals more confidence in their immigration journeys.”

About Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP (BAL)
BAL, the world’s leading corporate immigration law firm, ranks #1 on the Diversity Scorecard by The American Lawyer (2020 and 2021), #1 on Law360’s Diversity Snapshot (2020 and 2021), and the #1 Law Firm for Women according to the National Law Journal (2019, 2020 and 2021). BAL’s Cobalt® digital immigration services platform won the 2020 CODiE Award for Best Legal Tech Product, the prestigious CIO100 award for Innovative Use of Intelligent Automation in Immigration Services, and Legalweek‘s Most Innovative Law Firm Operations Team of 2021. BAL is singularly focused on meeting the immigration challenges of corporate clients around the world in ways that make immigration more strategic and enable clients to be more successful. Established in 1980, BAL has consistently provided immigration expertise, top-notch information security and leading technology innovation. The firm entered into a strategic alliance with Deloitte UK to create the world’s first global immigration service delivery model. BAL and its leaders are highly ranked in every major legal publication, including Best Lawyers®, Chambers and Partners, The Legal 500, and Who’s Who Legal. See website for details:

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In this tight labor market where companies cannot afford to lose talent, delays in immigration processing are preventing U.S. businesses from retaining high-skilled workers in key job roles, such as tech, that are fueling the economic recovery.

Delays by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in renewing work authorization for spouses of high skilled H-1B and L-1 workers are frustrating their ability to stay in the workplace. The delays have grown so long that it is now a common occurrence for these workers to see their employment authorization expire before their renewals are approved.

These ongoing delays are causing significant disruption for U.S. business who have been forced to take thousands of H-4 and L-2 employees off payroll and put projects on ice, while these employees wait for their employment authorization document (EAD) to be renewed. Employees whose work authorization lapses not only interrupt their careers; they may be unable to renew a driver’s license, obtain health insurance or travel. These spouses are highly educated and employed in high-skilled occupations, including in tech and other STEM fields.

H-4 spouses contribute an estimated $7.5 billion to the U.S. economy. In a lawsuit filed earlier this month, an H-4 spouse sued U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services for causing him to lose his job as an analyst with one of the world’s leading tech companies because his work authorization expired while he waits for the government to process his renewal.

The watchdog Government Accountability Office has criticized the agency for failing to process immigration applications in a timely manner. While the number of annual petitions grew about 25% between 2015 and 2020, applications for employment authorization documents (EADs) surged by 80%, and the total number of pending cases jumped 85%, creating a growing backlog that is leaving many applicants indefinitely on hold. The GAO pointed to systemic USCIS flaws, including the lack of a sustainable workforce recruiting and retention plans, failure to request adequate resources and funding, and failure to track its caseload with a reliable case management process. “The growth in USCIS’s pending caseload and processing times impacts the individuals, families, and businesses who rely on the immigration system,” the report said.

So far, the agency has taken only incremental steps to address the backlogs and delays. The government could do much more to mitigate risks of current work authorization from expiring, such as providing automatic extensions of work authorization while renewal applications are pending and giving L-2 spouses automatic work authorization on the basis of their relationship to the L-1 visa holder, without needing to apply for an EAD. Under current policy, the earliest an applicant may file to renew their EAD is six months prior to the EAD expiration, but current processing times can take well over a year, leaving many H-1B and L-1 spouses out of work for months at a time. A class action lawsuit was filed last month seeking automatic extensions for spouses who have applied for EAD renewals.

U.S. companies have consistently advocated for H-4 spouses to be eligible for work authorization. These workers add depth of talent and skill to the U.S. economy: 90% of H-4 spouses hold a bachelor’s degree, nearly 60% have a master’s degree, and two-thirds of H-4 EAD-holders work in STEM fields. Moreover, H-4 spouses are eligible for work authorization only if they are already in line for permanent residency, so their contributions are not transitory.

While USCIS addresses its long-term workforce and funding issues in response to the GAO report, it should take immediate steps to mitigate the impact on employers and the economy when businesses lose valuable talent for no other reason than government processing delays.

Nassim Mahzoon is a Partner in the Santa Clara, Calif., office of Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP where she counsels clients on all aspects of corporate immigration and compliance, and provides holistic and strategic guidance to businesses and their employees.

This article was originally published in the California Business Journal on Nov. 3, 2021.

The information contained here is meant to be informational, and while BAL has made every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information, it is not promised or guaranteed to be complete. Readers of this information should not act upon any information contained on this alert/blog without seeking professional counsel. This alert does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. Any reference to prior results, does not imply or guarantee similar future outcomes.