2016 happened to be the busiest year for US Naturalization applications in a decade. This sudden barrage of US citizenship applications consequently led to a huge backlog. And today, this backlog translates to longer wait times – specifically double the amount from last year. With more than 783,330 pending applications in fiscal year 2017 alone, the wait times have averaged out to ten months.
Why is there a Backlog?
While reasons are many, most fingers point towards the insecurities emanating around the immigration rhetoric of the 2016 Presidential elections. Many more permanent residents felt that their status of many undisturbed years of the past was going to go through an upheaval and therefore, converting to citizenship was the only option to protect themselves. Not to mention, the desperate desire to now cast their ballot seemed more imminent than ever.
- The number of applications have gone up considerably. This has created the backlog.
- 2016 saw 971,242 naturalization applications which was a 24% increase compare to previous years.
- This is reflected in the backlog as well. An average yearly third quarter sees 399, 397 pending applications but 2017 has already got 708,638 pending applications clogging the system.
- The system also went through an over-haul. The Obama administration lengthened the application itself.
- The Trump administration made more demands in terms of increased Request for Evidences (RFEs), stricter vetting processes, and delayed background checks.
- The immigration authorities were not prepared for this onslaught of applications and did not arm themselves with sufficient resources to tackle the backlog.
- Unites States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is struggling to recruit and fill vacancies across the country.
- Immigration officials are having to put in additional overtime to address this increase in processing times.
With more than 8.8 million people standing eligible for US citizenship, this looks like a continuously widening black hole…The prayer being that a process that took no more than six months shouldn’t take as long as the President’s first term in office.
If you have filed for N-400, Application for Naturalization and would like to check the status of your application, US Citizenship Status will give the different ways to check your place in the queue.