USCIS Chart Shows Huge Spikes in Naturalization and Green Card Applications
This USCIS chart was supplied today by Emilio Gonzalez, the USCIS Director, during a hearing on “NATURALIZATION DELAYS: CAUSES, CONSEQUENCES AND SOLUTIONS” before the House Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security, and International Law. The chart gives a breakdown of naturalization applications (N-400), adjustment of status applications (I-485) and all other USCIS applications filed from 1994 to 2008.
USCIS received an extraordinary number of applications in 2007 – nearly 3 million applications in the last quarter of the 2007 fiscal year alone! A number of factors created the Perfect Storm for this spike in applications and subsequent USCIS delays. A filing fee increase caused many immigrants to file naturalization applications (N-400) and other USCIS applications before the fees increased significantly. And a flood of adjustment of status applications (I-485) were filed when all Employment-Based (EB) visa categories opened up temporarily in July and August 2007 due to a miscommunication between USCIS and the State Department. Many nationals of India and the Philippines were suddenly and unexpectedly eligible to apply for a Green Card and jumped at the opportunity. There was an absolute rush by immigration lawyers (myself included) to file applications before the EB categories were made unavailable once again. Unfortunately, this spike in I-485 applications was surely responsible for recent visa bulletin retrogression in the December 2007, January 2008, and February 2008 visa bulletins for EB immigrants (especially EB-2 nationals of India).
The USCIS chart is also useful because it provides a historical look at the number of USCIS applications i.e. N-400, I-485, etc. filed between 1994 and 2008. It pinpoints specific events that caused spikes in USCIS applications. Section 245(i), the LIFE Act, fee increases, and the July-August 2007 visa bulletin fiasco all caused applications received by USCIS to jump.
USCIS delays are not a good thing. But at least anyone in H-1B status can take comfort in the fact that they will be eligible for 7th year H-1B visa extensions for the indefinite future.