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USCIS Processing Times vs Real Time

For those who have played the waiting game with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), you understand the frustrations encountered during the processing time. With the extensive volume of petitions and applications for immigration benefits coming through USCIS each year, the cycle time leaves all parties involved wondering when it will be completed. This often means that immigrants, their families, and even employers are left in limbo and at the mercy of USCIS.

USCIS established the Office of Performance and Quality (OPQ) to assist customers with an estimated timeframe of when their application would be completed. These are calculated and posted to the USCIS website every month by location or application type. In a perfect world, these cycle times would directly correlate with real time however it has been proven inaccurate more times than not. In fact, it has been confirmed that the moment processing times are posted; they are already out of date due to internal delays between the gathering and publishing of the data.

There are other issues the current system doesn't factor in when it comes to calculating cycle times such as the additional time required if a Request for Evidence (RFE) is issued. This alone can add 30 to 90 days to the process. The system does not reveal the reality of multi-step adjudications either. Many times multiple application stages are necessary with each carrying its own length of time.

While there is no perfect solution to solving all of the issues plaguing this system, the need for a more efficient process is absolute. These timelines hold a significant meaning for an immigrant's future and should not be based on inaccurate information. Re-evaluation of the current USCIS practices should continue with a goal of producing a more accurate and reliable system.

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