USCIS Acting Deputy Director, Michael Aytes, provided additional information about processing times for employment-based immigrant visas in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Leadership Journal. In the posting, Mr. Aytes stated that the USCIS received approximately 300,000 employment-based adjustment of status applications in late 2007 when all of the employment-based immigrant visa categories became available due to the anomaly in the July 2007 Immigrant Visa Bulletin. Mr. Aytes confirmed that since this Visa Bulletin, many of the employment-based immigrant visa categories have retrogressed creating a backlog of adjustment applications that can not be approved until an immigrant visa again becomes available. Mr. Aytes acknowledged that USCIS customers are frustrated because they have “no idea of how many people are waiting in line with pending adjustment of status applications or how long it may take before the USCIS can process and approve the applications.” Mr. Aytes stated that the USCIS is working on compiling this information and making it available on its website.
Mr. Aytes also stated that the USCIS is aware that many foreign nationals pending in the adjustment of status process would like to take advantage of “green card” portability. An individual is only eligible for “green card” portability if his/her Form I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker has been approved, his/her adjustment of status application has been pending for more than six months and he/she is employed by a new employer in the same or similar occupation. In order to address this issue, Mr. Aytes has stated that the USCIS has taken the following steps:
- It has placed increased emphasis on processing older Form I-140 petitions while also processing newer petitions within its targeted processing times of four months. Mr. Aytes stated that the USCIS is making progress towards this goal and anticipates reaching this goal by the end of September 2009.
- The USCIS is issuing Employment Authorization Documents (EAD) valid for two years, as needed.
- The USCIS is working with the U.S. Department of State (DOS) to make sure that every available immigrant visa number is used.
Mr. Aytes concluded by stating that the USCIS is “working hard” to make improvements and to increase the transparency in the employment-based immigrant visa process.