On February 9, 2024, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released end-of-fiscal-year (FY) 2023 data. Below are selected highlights of the data and USCIS’s plans for FY 2024:
FY 2023 Backlog Reductions
- USCIS received 10.9 million filings and completed more than 10 million pending cases, both of which it called “record-breaking numbers.” In doing so, USCIS said it reduced overall backlogs by 15%, including “effectively eliminating the backlog of naturalization applications.” The median processing time for naturalization applicants also decreased from 10.5 months to 6.1 months by the end of the fiscal year.
FY 2023 Actions Affecting Workers and Employers
- USCIS and the Department of State issued more than 192,000 employment-based immigrant visas and, for the second year running, ensured that no available visas went unused, USCIS said. The agency increased the maximum validity period of Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) to five years for adjustment of status applicants. USCIS said it clarified eligibility for a range of immigration services, including the International Entrepreneur Rule, the EB-1 immigrant visa for individuals of extraordinary ability and outstanding professors and researchers, and the waiver of the two-year foreign residence requirement for J-1 cultural and educational exchange visitors (including foreign medical graduates). The agency also proposed a new rule “to strengthen worker protections and the integrity of the H-2 temporary worker program.”
- USCIS removed the biometrics fee and appointment requirement for applicants for a change or extension of nonimmigrant status and updated the agency’s interpretation of the Child Status Protection Act to prevent many child beneficiaries of noncitizen workers from “aging out” of child status, allowing them to seek permanent residence along with their parents.
FY 2024 Plans
In FY 2024, USCIS plans to:
- Work to maintain median processing times of 30 days for certain EAD applications filed by individuals who entered the United States after scheduling an appointment through the CBP One mobile application or the CHNV processes.
- Continue to update policy guidance for the EB-5 investor visa program, incorporating statutory reforms to the Regional Center Program as they relate to regional center designation and other requirements for immigrant investors.
- Continue to update policy guidance for student classifications, including eligibility for employment authorization, change of status, extension of stay, and reinstatement of status for F and M students and their dependents in the United States.
- Finalize a new rule on the H-1B program for specialty occupation workers.
- Propose a new rule on the adjustment of status process, including regulations clarifying the age calculation under the Child Status Protection Act and providing employment authorization for certain derivative beneficiaries awaiting immigrant visa availability when they present compelling circumstances.