Processing Time Changes For 2017
It is perhaps obvious that one of the first questions from most potential clients is how long a specific petition or application will take to process. This is natural, considering most people filing with USCIS are doing so for reasons they consider to be pressing and important: the ability to work, to travel, to see a loved one again. This is also, however, one of the most difficult and dangerous parts of an opening conversation with a client. Processing times for even the simplest applications can vary widely, frustrating clients and putting pressure on the relationship with their attorney. An extra month or three added to your lawyers processing can lead the client to think the attorney lied, exaggerated, or made mistakes leading to the delay.
The truth most often, however, is that processing times are outside of an attorneys control. This situation is obviously exacerbated by the change in administrations, and budgetary changes in the Department of Homeland Security and USCIS which lead to shifts- often large- in the time you can expect to receive an approval.
Let's take the I-765, perhaps the most important part of any application. This application is short, and is included in any application to adjust status. Best of all, there is not additional cost. A year ago, I was confident in telling clients about the three to four month window it would generally take to receive an approval. A year later, however, I rarely see such a timeframe. Without a Request For Evidence, I've seen some applications take over 5 months.
I've seen similar processing delays in N-400's, sometimes with administrative delays on specific cases without any explanation at all. Some clients at a non-profit I work for notice that friends and family who applied at the exact same time receive interview dates and approvals without hearing from USCIS at all. This can of course be maddening, specifically for those who wish to become a permanent part of American society (in addition to being able to petition for children, spouses, and parents). As frustrating as this may seem, it is important to realize that USCIS is a large bureaucracy, and many who offer magic solutions are simply selling snake oil. Be wary, contact a reputable attorney, and double check your information with an organization if possible.
I've included a link to USCIS processing times below. It is important to always use official USCIS resources when using the internet. Many fraudulent or manipulative "resources" online are simply there to funnel you towards paying them for free information. Always feel free to email or call when looking for more information as well.