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The Pit Where Immigration Cases Die

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The lost year of work cards. Hi, I'm Jim Hacking, immigration lawyer practicing law throughout the United States at our offices in St. Louis, Missouri, San Diego, California, and Washington, D.C. I want to tell you about a concept that I've been thinking about something that I've observed over these many months, where we have these clients and potential clients who we're speaking with who've been waiting forever for their biometrics notice, for their work card and for their green card interview. And I want to talk about this weird thing that happens at USCIS and I can't exactly define it.

I haven't really seen it in a alert from the American Immigration Lawyers Association or in news stories, but it's undeniable that there is a time period in most of 2020. And I don't know when it started, and I don't know when it ended. But I want you to think about those cases that were filed in that time period, whenever it started and whenever it ended sometime around 2020, where the cases that were filed during that time went into a pit and they're sitting in that pit and nobody was really working on them for a really long time.

So that's why we saw over, and over and over people getting wait times for months for their receipt notice, wait times of months for their biometrics and then months and months of more waiting for their work and travel card and their green card interview. And I've seen this once before at immigration and that is when the Trump administration took over and Jeff Sessions was the attorney general they made a decision to start processing asylum cases that came in right away. So historically they would be working on the cases that were the oldest and get those scheduled for interview. But because Jeff Sessions hated asylum seekers and thought that all immigration lawyers who helped asylum seekers were crooks, they said that, "We want to adjudicate these asylum applications as fast as possible, because most of them are frivolous and false.

And then we can put them right into removal." That was sort of the goal. So even today, right now in 2021, there's a set of asylum applications that were filed around 2015 through 2017, that still haven't had their interview. So 2018, 2019, 2020, those who had interviews, I had a call with a fellow the other day he filed last December and his interview is in two weeks. So there's been a real change in the processing of asylum applications. And there's some that are still stuck in that valley, those asylum cases that just have not had an interview. I have a fellow who's been waiting six years for his interview. He's filed for asylum from Pakistan, and we haven't had an interview. And frankly, right now, I'm glad about that because the asylum framework is still going through under the Trump approach, which is to try to deny as many things as possible.

But I think that same valley of dead cases has happened in the reason that I say that is we're starting to see more movement on work and travel cards and green card interviews. And of course, everything starts with the issuance of the receipt notice. So, receipt notices used to come a week or two later. Well, now they're coming a week or two later again. So that's exciting. And the biometrics notices used to come a month after that, or three weeks after that. And now we're starting to see biometrics notices coming. So I think that USCS might be doing the same thing with the backlog that they had before, which is let's stop the bleeding. Let's not let any more cases go into that pit. So we're seeing people who applied recently get their work cards faster than people who applied, say, in the summer of 2020. I know that's backwards.

I know that's different. But that's what we're observing. That's what we're starting to see based on the processing times and the turnaround. The more recently filed cases are getting processed faster for biometrics, for work cards and for green card interviews than they are for and that's true for citizenship too. This is just not the work and travel card, but those cases that were filed more recently are getting processed faster than cases that were filed during that dead period. So I hope this makes sense. If you have questions about it and make sure to come on our show on Tuesday. I'll probably talk about it a little bit more this week during our live shows on Tuesdays and Thursdays, which you can catch in our YouTube channel, which you should subscribe to and our Facebook group, which is called Immigrant Home. You can also always call us (314) 961-8200 or email us [email protected]. We'd be happy to help you. Let us know what we can do and have a great week.

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