The road to U.S. citizenship has always been a long and challenging process for immigrants, but things could be getting even more difficult.
According to the National Partnership With New Americans, in 2014 the average wait time for the U.S. citizenship application process was about 5 months. Today, the average wait time has increased to 10 months. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) average processing time has nearly doubled in 4 years.
The Impact of a Longer Wait Time
The increased wait time has affected the backlog of pending applications—in September 2013, there were a little over 300,000 citizenship application pending. Today, there are over 750,000 applications that are still in the backlog. As a result, permanent residents are waiting longer than they would have in previous years. The wait time can reach 17 months for those living in areas where many permanent residents are applying.
Why Are Citizenship Applications Taking Longer?
The average application wait times have been impacted by the changes President Obama made to the application form. In 2014, Obama instructed USCIS to make significant changes to the application form, which doubled the length of the application to 21 pages. Many of the new questions included topics regarding applicants’ links to terrorist groups, genocide, military training, along with more U.S. history and civics questions.
Unfortunately, these additional questions have discouraged many non-English speakers from applying.
The waiting time and backlog have also increased under President Trump. Immigration experts say the rise in processing times could be due to the influx of naturalization applications during the presidential election—which created a lengthy backlog. There has been a 35 percent increase in the backlog from July 2017 to July 2018 and a 77 percent increase since July 2016. Unfortunately, the USCIS is spending their resources looking through thousands of old citizenship applications for any potential signs of fraud (as we previously reported) instead of addressing the current backlog problem.
If you have any questions regarding your status or application process, contact our New Jersey immigration attorneys for a free case review. Our knowledge of the immigration system may help shorten your wait time and increase your odds of success. Se Habla Espanol. (800) 909-8129