Immigration applications taking longer than usual to process for some in Arizona

Apr 11, 2022, 4:35 AM | Updated: 1:55 pm
(File Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)...
(File Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
(File Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — A nationwide backlog is causing some immigrants in Arizona to experience long delays to have their applications processed.

“We still have green card renewals and even citizenship applications that were filed back in 2020 that are still pending,” Ayensa Millan, an immigration attorney with CIMA Law Group in Phoenix, told KTAR News 92.3 FM.

“Obviously that’s a huge problem, especially for people that have expired work permits and that have expired green cards.”

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is the federal agency that processes citizenship and other immigration benefits.

Millan explained USCIS experienced office closures and staffing shortages during the peak of the pandemic, causing applications to be put on hold. She said this mostly affected applications filed in 2020.

“The ones that we filed at the end of 2021 and recently, they are getting interviews within three to six months,” Millan said. “And yet we’re still pending applications that were filed in 2020.”

The Biden Administration last month acknowledged the backlog and announced plans to reduce it, including allowing more applicants to pay extra to have their petitions expedited. It also includes increasing capacity, improving technology and expanding staffing with the goal of achieving new processing time goals.

“USCIS remains committed to delivering timely and fair decisions to all we serve,” USCIS Director Ur Jaddou said in a statement.

“Every application we adjudicate represents the hopes and dreams of immigrants and their families, as well as their critical immediate needs such as financial stability and humanitarian protection.”

In the meantime, Millan said she has clients who are stuck waiting and growing frustrated.

“Obviously and understandably so, the clients are very frustrated and it is difficult for them to understand why these things are not moving,” she said.

“It’s not very comforting when your attorney tells you, ‘I am sorry, there is really not much that I can do. I was told you just need to continue to wait.”

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Immigration applications taking longer than usual to process for some in Arizona