Despite the high processing fees and large amounts of government resources devoted to the immigration system, there are still lengthy backlogs.
For example, the current posted processing times for the I-526 stage of the EB-5 program indicate USCIS is working on cases filed on March 16, 2012. That is 19 months! These are wealthy individuals who have invested $500,000 or more into the U.S. Once they are approved they are going to move to the U.S. and are very likely to buy property, start or grow a business, and spend money, all of which will contribute to the economy. USCIS should have these cases as a top priority and not let them linger for years. Part of the problem is that the program is transitioning to the Washington D.C. office, and it appears that cases are just not getting adjudicated in the mean time.
While the EB-5 program is an extreme example, many other types of cases are also very slow. Many H-1b visas filed on April 1st 2013 are still not adjudicated. At least for the H-1bs there is the option for premium-processing.
Immigration courts are also significantly backlogged. One of our attorneys recently received a trial date that was more than 2 years in the future for her immigration court case. According to Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University the case backlog is 85 percent higher than they were 5 years ago. Additionally, this study also reports that “the average time these pending cases have been waiting in the Immigration Courts of the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) is now up to 562 days.” California currently has the largest pending Immigration Court backlog with 77,246 cases.
Hopefully, the government will work to reduce these immigration backlogs. In doing so it can also create important and valuable jobs that help the economy.