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uscis plans to hire +4000 employees to fix the backlog | godoy law office immigration lawyers

USCIS Plans to Hire +4,000 Employees to Fix the Backlog

With a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) backlog of nearly 5.2 million cases with 8.5 million cases pending, USCIS Ombudsman Phyllis Coven admitted that USCIS is struggling to hire enough staff to address the case backlog. But USCIS plans to hire more than 4,000 employees by the end of this calendar year. According to new information in a USCIS report shared by Coven, the reduction in USCIS services and the current backlog is due to:

  • a drop in services performed by USCIS during the pandemic
  • various humanitarian disasters that occur at unforeseen times
  • cuts to non payroll expenses to avoid massive COVID-related furlough compounded to reveal the inadequacy of USCIS’ funding model

To address the backlog and satisfy the complaints of businesses suffering from a labor shortage, USCIS implemented expanded premium processing services and reduce the visa backlogs and wait times on May 31, 2022. Although USCIS committed that the new premium processing services and fees will not negatively impact other immigration services, Doug Rand, senior advisor to the USCIS director, essentially said that new premium processing services do hurt other immigration services:

“One needs extra human beings to be able to do a faster turnaround time. So we understand and appreciate the fact that a lot of folks out there would be paying for premium processing for a lot of these ones right now, if they could. We really want to satisfy that demand. We wish we could, we could just flip a switch and turn it on for everybody, but that’s not really operationally possible.” 

USCIS Proposals To Improve Efficiency and Reduce Wait Times

In addition to hiring more employees, USCIS has proposed other measures to improve efficiency and reduce wait times:

  1. Amend USCIS’ Fee For Services Model
    USCIS recommends increased dedicated government appropriations to address case backlogs and humanitarian and asylum services, which are not fee-based. The current fee-for-services funding model leaves USCIS drastically underfunded, according to the report:

    “We recommend that USCIS seek legislative or regulatory action to: Reengineer the agency’s biennial fee review process, particularly its associated staffing allocation models, to ensure it fully and proactively projects the staffing levels needed to meet targeted processing time goals for future processing as well as backlog adjudications … [and] Authorize and establish a financing mechanism, through the auspices of the Department of the Treasury, that USCIS may draw upon to address unexpected revenue shortfalls and unfunded policy shifts and to maintain adequate staffing to meet its performance obligations to its customers and Congress.”

  2.  Improve the Notification Process for Form I-129 Beneficiaries
    According to the Ombudsman’s report, USCIS should notify change of status applicants directly and not only inform their employers:

    “Workers reply on their employers for all information, which could leave them without status documentation and make them susceptible to abuse. The report called this “administrative efficiency at the expense of equity,” echoing several of the Biden administration’s directives for improving customer experience and the federal workforce as a whole.”

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