Over the past two years, the number of people attempting to immigrate to the United States has dropped significantly. Yet, in that same time, wait times for applications have ballooned to being 47% longer than before, causing the immigration process to become even more arduous than it already was. And the reason for these delays, according to Forbes
, can be laid at the foot of a few major policy changes instituted by the Trump Administration in that time period.
One of the biggest changes was a rule that required all employment-based green card applications to have in-person interviews before they could be approved. This caused the average wait time for these applications to nearly double, from about five months in 2014 to more than ten in 2018. The wait time for H-1 employment visa applications also spiked, going from an average of three months to eight months between 2014 and 2018. This is on top of the often years-long process required to simply apply for an H-1 visa or employment-based green card, which can take as much as a decade.
A second major change was an executive order referred to as the “Buy American and Hire American” order, which was first issued in April 2017. This executive order, intended to incentivize American companies to hire American employees instead of foreign labor, may or may not have succeeded at its stated purpose, but it has increased wait times for business-related visas, and increased the number of denials for H-1B petitions by 41% between the third and fourth quarter of FY 2017.
Another effect of the Trump Administration’s immigration policy has been to force foreign laborers to stay at a specific company throughout the immigration process. Previously, an H-1B visa holder could maintain their visa while switching from one employer to another, even before a new petition was approved for the new employer. However, under the new rule changes, employers can no longer pay to speed up change of employer decisions. As a result, employees remain stuck at the employers where they first got their visas, even if the work environment is hostile or they are being mistreated.
Because of these policies, residual adjudication delays have been felt in family based green cards, especially those based upon marriage, as well as naturalizations. CIS published processing times now indicate that an adjustment of status case based upon marriage or a family petition can take as long as 39 months and naturalizations can take as long as 25 months. At the end of the Obama administration such adjudications were generally completed in less than a year.
One possible solution, if you are trapped in this sort of bureaucratic purgatory, may be seeking a writ of mandamus. A petition for a writ of mandamus is a request for a judge to order the government to perform its legal obligations, such as to issue a judgment on a visa or green card application. While not appropriate for every case, even simply making the petition can incentivize the government to accelerate your case.
If you are a non-citizen seeking an H1 Visa or other immigration relief, please call the attorneys at Bretz & Coven LLP. We will help you through the difficult process of applying for an H1 visa or employment-related green card, protecting your rights and giving you the best chance possible at attaining legal status. To schedule a consultation with our New York immigration lawyers, call (212) 267-2555.
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