Filing N-400? Expect Delays: Record Numbers of Naturalization Applications Await USCIS Decision

Wait times for a citizenship interview have jumped to nearly two years in some USCIS districts.

** LEGAL UPDATE **

After submitting an application for naturalized U.S. citizenship on Form N-400, the standard procedure is to wait for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to call one in, first for fingerprints and later schedule an interview at a USCIS field office near one's residence. This has always been a long process, typically taking from several months to a year or more to get an interview, depending on the backlog at one's field office. But those waits have recently jumped in alarming ways.

If you're applying for citizenship in Chicago, for example, expect to wait up to 15.5 months for your USCIS interview (according to USCIS's published average processing times). If applying in Brooklyn, NY, the wait is up to 16.5 months. In El Paso, TX, Anchorage, AK, Albany, NY, and New York City, NY, wait times are up to 17 months. Fort Myers, FL and Baltimore, MD have wait times of nearly 20 months. And anyone applying in Miami faces a whopping 21 months of waiting for a USCIS interview.

These waits are significantly longer than in the past several years. This can only add to the frustration of immigrants who, seeing the harsh anti-immigrant stance taken by the current administration, wish to gain the protection that U.S. citizenship offers from deportation (removal) and to vote in upcoming elections.

According to a report by the National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA), a record-level 1,957,384 people applied to naturalize and become U.S. citizens within the last two years. An estimated 729,400 people are currently awaiting a decision on their case.

Yet no efforts seem to have been made to address the surge of applications. In a followup statement, NPNA said, "it’s a bureaucratic wall preventing them from becoming citizens and voters. We fear that USCIS’ latest round of slowed-down naturalization is not only another means for the current administration to stem legal migration, but also an effort to sabotage services for people of color and deny the franchise to hundreds of thousands of immigrants."

In any case, it's safe to say the problem isn't likely to go away soon. And there's very little that can be done to expedite (speed up) a naturalization case, though you might want to look into the possibility, just in case.

Effective Date: July 3, 2018