Processing times posted on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ (USCIS) website have recently not been completely reflective of actual processing times. USCIS has advised the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) that much of this is due to technical limitations. Specifically, the software used to collect this information cannot perform real-time reporting. The concern is that inquiries to USCIS cannot be made until the case is 30 days past normal processing times. Compounding the problem is the fact that the National Customer Service Center (NCSC) cannot take a referral to the adjudicating service center until the case is 30 days past the “real” processing time. So petitioners may be submitting inquiries on cases that appear outside of normal processing times, according to the timeframes listed online, but NCSC might not be able to take the referral because the case is not 30 days beyond the “real” processing time. This can have a significant impact on planning ahead and meeting fluctuating business needs.
In response to AILA’s raising of this concern, USCIS is scheduled to begin a pilot test of a new Enterprise Performance Analysis System (ePAS) that is intended to facilitate more timely data collection and reporting. The new ePAS system is designed to collect data on a daily basis. A new Standard Management Analysis Reporting Tool is also being introduced to provide next-day reporting capabilities of data collected by ePAS.
Today, the four USCIS regional offices have issued updated processing times.
Nebraska Service Center
Under the bi-specialization initiative, the Nebraska Service Center (NSC) processes I-140 petitions for immigrant workers and I-485 green card applications, as well as derivative work and travel authorization benefits (EAD work document and advance parole travel authorization).
All I-140 petitions continue to have a processing time of 4 months. This includes petitions sponsoring Outstanding Researchers, those with Extraordinary Ability, and Multinational Managers.
I-485 applications for employment-based adjustment of status* continue to be processed in about four months’ time.
The processing times of applications for EAD work authorization and advance parole (AP) travel authorization remain at a troubling 3 months. The concern here is for those who filed I-485 applications in the summer of 2007 when all priority dates became current, and whose priority dates then retrogressed. Applications to extend EAD and AP can only be filed 4 months in advance. With a processing time of 3 months, any delay in filing could result in a gap of work and travel authorization.
Texas Service Center
For employment-based immigration cases, the Texas Service Center (TSC) is the other regional processing center that focuses on I-140 petitions for immigrant workers and I-485 green card applications, as well as derivative work and travel authorization benefits.
The processing time for I-140s has continued to drift backwards at TSC. Extraordinary Ability, Outstanding Researcher and Multinational Manager cases, as well as I-140s for those in the employment-based second and third preference categories, are now taking an estimated 8.5 months.
The processing time for employment-based I-485 applications* is also falling further behind, with a listed date of September 6, 2010, or nearly 9 months. Derivative employment (I-765) and travel (I-131) benefit applications are still taking 3 months.
California Service Center
From an employment-based immigration perspective, the California Service Center (CSC) primarily processes non-immigrant petitions.
The processing time for most I-129s, including H-1Bs, TNs and E-1/2s, is 2 months. L-1s and H-2A/Bs are being processed within a 1-month timeframe, while petitions for O and P status are moving at a blistering 2-week pace.
Applications for employment authorization for L-2 dependent spouses have a processing time of 3 months.
Vermont Service Center
The Vermont Service Center (VSC) is the other regional processing center that focuses on petitions for non-immigrant employment-based cases.
For employment-based cases, VSC’s processing times mostly mirror CSC’s processing times. The exception is L-1 intracompany transfer cases, which are taking around 3 months.
To view the processing time of other case types not discussed here, please visit: https://egov.uscis.gov/cris/processTimesDisplayInit.do.
* Please note that the processing time for an I-485 only applies to applicants whose priority dates are current.