USCIS Speeds Up Processing Times for Naturalization, Work Permits and More

New data shows significant improvement for applications like naturalization and work permits.

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced significant progress in reducing processing times for a variety of immigration applications. A newly released fact sheet details these improvements, highlighting faster processing for some of the most common forms.

Faster Processing for Key Applications

  • Naturalization: The median processing time for naturalization applications (Form N-400) is now at its lowest point since 2016, at just 5.2 months.
  • Work Permits: Employment authorization documents for asylum applicants and certain parolees are now being processed in under 30 days. Additionally, processing times for work permits associated with adjustment of status applications have reached a low of 3.6 months, the fastest since 2017.
  • Travel Documents: Advance parole applications are also seeing faster processing, with a current median time of 4.4 months, the quickest since 2018.
  • Work Visas: Processing times for petitions for nonimmigrant workers (Form I-129, non-premium) have also been reduced to 2.7 months.

Focus on Further Improvement

While celebrating these improvements, USCIS acknowledges the need for continued progress on certain forms. Applications such as provisional unlawful presence waivers (Form I-601), petitions for relatives of refugees and asylum seekers (Form I-730), and determinations related to U nonimmigrant status petitions (Form I-918) still have higher processing times and backlogs. The agency highlights efforts at the HART Service Center to address these specific areas.

Investment in EB-5 Program and Fee Adjustment

The announcement also details ongoing investments in the EB-5 immigrant investor program. USCIS is committed to processing these applications efficiently while adhering to anti-fraud measures. Additionally, a final rule implemented on April 1st, 2024, adjusts immigration and naturalization benefit fees for the first time since 2016. This adjustment aims to recover operating costs and support faster processing of new applications.

Clarifying Processing Times

USCIS has updated its “Check Case Processing Times” resource to differentiate between administrative processing times (which the agency is actively reducing) and delays caused by statutory limitations. These limitations, set by Congress, can only be addressed through legislative changes. For instance, processing times for petitions for alien relatives (Form I-130) may appear lengthy due to limited visa availability under caps established by law. USCIS utilizes the State Department’s visa bulletin to determine visa availability before processing these petitions.