A storm is brewing over unacceptable USCIS interview delays in the past few months. About two to three hundred thousand aspiring citizens will not go through their naturalization oaths as most planned before the Presidential elections in November 2020.
Truth be told, working during the pandemic has been hard for almost all organizations. This has not been different for the US Citizenship & Immigration Services. The agency saw the closure of their offices from March through June. And while USCIS has resumed working, they are not operating at full capacity. The epidemic, coupled with President Trump’s hostile policies to immigrants has led to massive interview delays.
How Serious Are The USCIS Interview Delays?
Aspiring citizens are experiencing delays in USCIS interviews from the pandemic-driven shutdown. USCIS spokesperson Dan Hetlage argues that USCIS has been outperforming itself over the last few years. About 110,000 immigrants that were approved for citizenship in March went through the naturalization oaths. However, USCIS does not reveal that there are hundreds of thousands more would-be citizens that were just one or two steps behind in the process.
Under normal circumstances and a less hostile government, these aspiring immigrants would be citizens already. Make no mistake: delayed naturalization in this case is a form of voter suppression.
With these USCIS interview delays, less future citizens can expect to finish their citizenship journey later in the year. The agency processed about 930,000 naturalization applications in the last financial year (2019), a decade-high record. Case processing also started on a strong foot in 2020 before USCIS closed its offices.
Currently, thousands of applicants and attorneys are reporting USCIS case status delays in citizenship interviews. Others whose interviews were previously canceled have yet to receive rescheduling dates. With the USCIS interview reschedule delay, it is impossible for people to get their citizenship approval in time for the election in November 2020. Adding confusion is that the wait varies from office to office.
Why Are We Witnessing USCIS Interview Delays?
COVID-19 is the main issue behind the USCIS interview delays. However, the agency as a whole has been horribly mismanaged under the revolving door of Trump appointees. So bad, in fact, that the agency (which had a budget surplus) announced laying off of 70% of its workforce in June 2020. While that immediate situation has been temporarily resolved, the conditions underlying the budget crisis remains. This makes it difficult to determine a specific date when the delays will end. The USCIS has resumed some of its operations but it is working at low capacity. This is done to adhere to social distancing policies in their efforts to protect both their staff and employees.
Implications Of The USCIS Interview Delays
One of the main effects of the USCIS interview delays is the possibility of disenfranchisement. Several aspiring citizens have been in the US for years or even decades. If you have been a US resident for years, you naturally would love to have a say in US politics. Of course, the policies made by the ruling administration will affect you too.
Previous administrations, both Republican and Democratic, have taken naturalization seriously. Indeed, naturalization processes were often done fast during election years. For example, in 2016 they were done in as little as 3 months! And while coronavirus has affected service delivery, past presidents would have found an amicable solution. This can range from assigning more workers to conducting virtual oath-taking ceremonies and allocating more funds to the USCIS. Instead, the Trump administration continues to witness and condone the delays at the citizenship agency. An agency that sought to lay off roughly 70% of its employees due to an apparent lack of finances.
Not to forget there is often a two-month wait between the naturalization interviews and oath-taking. Anyone who did not complete their interview by the end of August will likely not meet voter registration deadlines. Most states have their registration deadlines in October, which may be problematic for immigrants that have not been approved yet. It is impossible to know the impact that this will have on the US election – but it is significant.
How We Can Help
Most people will just fill out the documents that the USCIS requires and hope that they get a favorable result. While that seems like the only available option, the tough policies introduced recently can quickly kill your dreams. President Trump’s administration has also made it difficult for aspiring Americans to get citizenship. With the USCIS interview delays, it gets even more stressful.
At HMA Law, we do things a bit differently. Of course, we will ensure that you file all the necessary paperwork and that your application is in order.
We also advocate against these immigration policies that seek to kill the dreams of millions of potential immigrants. And in your case, if it’s appropriate, we will sue to fight for your rights.
We are a force to drive your case forward.
Are you experiencing USCIS interview delays or a USCIS interview reschedule delay?