While the total number of backlogged naturalization cases have not been released, it is suspected that hundreds of thousands of applications are pending. According to the Washington Post, the latest available data from March 31st reports more than 700,000 pending citizenship applications. Although 156,849 applications have been processed since mid March, more applications still would have been filed in that period. USCIS is expected to naturalize 600,000 new citizens this fiscal year. This number is down from the 834,000 new citizens that were naturalized last year.
The backlog has ballooned, and wait times have doubled in the last four years. The backlog can be attributed, at least in part, to the corona virus, and lack of funding to hire more staff. In March, USCIS had suspended all naturalization interviews and oath ceremonies. Both are now being held again in a way that complies with CDC guidelines, but fewer interviews and oath ceremonies are being held.
Furthermore, USCIS, which is funded mostly through application fees, faces a huge budget shortfall. The shortfall started last year, but was worsened by the pandemic. After an emergency stop-gap bill was unanimously approved by the House, USCIS averted an administrative furlough of more than 13,000 employees. There is still however, a very real risk of future furloughs. For now, USCIS expects to be able to maintain operations through the end of FY2020.
In most states, the voter registration deadline is in October, but a handful of states do allow voters to register in person on election day. This means that if your naturalization application has not been adjudicated by October, it is highly likely that you may not be able to vote in the upcoming November election.
Please click here to see the House’s stopgap bill.
Please click here to see the USCIS announcement on the averted furloughs.
If you or a loved one has any questions about immigrating to the United States, please give us call - 703-879-5910!