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USCIS Updates Processing Times to Reflect New Visa Availability Approach

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USCIS Updates Processing Times to Reflect New Visa Availability Approach
August 25, 2020 – The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) processing times page now reflects the new visa availability approach that went into effect on March 31, 2020. The visa availability approach prioritizes petitions associated with individuals from countries where visas are immediately available, or will soon be available. Since the processing order became effective in March, USCIS has been publishing aggregated data on processing all I-526 petitions, however this is not an accurate picture for petitioners as there is a wide range of variation in processing times between petitioners who have visas available to and those who do not have a visa available. Prior to instituting this new approach to reporting processing times, USCIS estimated processing times for all petitioners at 37 to 73.5 months.
 
USCIS utilizes Visa Bulletin Chart B: Dates for Filing of Employment-Based Visa Applications when making a determination as to if visas are immediately available or will soon be available.  As of the August Visa Bulletin, all countries of chargeability, with the exception of Mainland China, were current on Chart B Dates for Filing of Employment-Based Visa Applications. Therefore in August, under the visa availability approach, USCIS prioritized all non-Chinese petitions. The USCIS website now separates data on Chinese & non-Chinese petitioners, so that all applicants are not subject to the same estimated time range.  As of August 2020, Chinese petitioners could expect an estimated time range of 54 Months to 75 Months and non-Chinese petitioners 31.5 Months to 60 Months. This much more accurately reflects current waits for both groups. This shift moves I-526 reporting to an approach more similar to other categories currently subject to a visa-availability agency adjudications process in cap-subject categories.
Read more on IIUSA member, Robert Divine, perspective here.