WASHINGTON – Today, USCIS released its Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 progress report with new information demonstrating how it reduced backlogs in certain programs and supported humanitarian missions. The report summarizes numerous steps USCIS has taken, which include strengthening its fiscal stability, and implementing adjudicatory efficiencies, policy measures and agency-wide backlog reduction efforts. At the same time, USCIS has continued to meet the extraordinary demands on its humanitarian programs, upholding America’s promise as a nation of welcome and possibility.
“Every immigration case entrusted to us represents an individual or a family seeking to build a better life in the United States,” said USCIS Director Ur M. Jaddou. “We have made measurable progress towards building a more humane immigration system thanks to the innovation and dedication of the USCIS workforce. There is more work to do, especially to reduce processing times for all people we serve, and congressional support is critical to achieving our ambitious backlog reduction goals in the year ahead.”
The data demonstrates how both backlog reduction and humanitarian services were successfully supported by crucial appropriations by Congress in FY 2022. Moving forward, congressional support of the agency’s FY 2023 budget request will be critical to help support humanitarian services and eliminate current backlogs.
The report also highlights how furlough notices, a hiring freeze, and drastic cuts to contract staff during the COVID-19 pandemic critically impacted USCIS’ ability to keep pace with incoming applications, heightening the need for USCIS to pursue an upcoming fee rule to prevent the accumulation of new backlogs in the future.
Backed by crucial fiscal support from Congress, USCIS restored fiscal stability and turned the tide on backlog growth by surging hiring and establishing an agency-wide focus on operational efficiency. In FY 2022, in coordination with the Department of State, the agency utilized more than 281,000 employment-based visas, twice the typical statutory annual allotment. This was made possible due to the large number of family-sponsored visas that remained unused in FY 2021 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In addition, USCIS expanded its existing humanitarian mission and responded to emerging priorities for the U.S. government, such as Operation Allies Welcome, Uniting for Ukraine, and the recently announced Process for Venezuelans. The agency surged resources to effectively address its humanitarian responsibilities, which led to the issuance of more than 92,000 work permits for Afghan nationals, many of whom worked alongside us in Afghanistan for the past two decades; the adjudication of benefits to facilitate Afghan resettlement in the United States, such as asylum and special immigrant status; and the issuance of nearly 120,000 travel authorizations to Ukrainian nationals and their immediate family members who were impacted by Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.
In the months ahead, the agency plans to build on this progress by implementing premium processing for all petitions for immigrant workers (Form I-140) and certain employment authorization applications (Form I-765) for students and exchange visitors; establishing a permanent biometrics exemption for all applicants for change of nonimmigrant status and extension of nonimmigrant stay (Form I-539); and simplifying several common forms, including the applications for employment authorization (Form I-765), adjustment of status (Form I-485), and naturalization (Form N-400). In addition, the report highlights upcoming steps to advance the USCIS humanitarian mission, including online filing and notices, new rulemakings, and increased staffing and public engagement.