In an extraordinary feat, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has successfully concluded an unprecedented 10 million immigration cases in the fiscal year 2023, marking the first reduction in backlogs in over a decade. The agency’s dedicated efforts have not only addressed the surging demand for immigration services but have also significantly improved customer experience, particularly in the realms of employment-based immigration, naturalization, and humanitarian work.
USCIS Director Ur M. Jaddou expressed pride in the workforce’s commitment to fairness, integrity, and respect. The agency’s accomplishments include administering the Oath of Allegiance to over 878,500 new U.S. citizens, effectively eliminating the naturalization application backlog. The median processing time for naturalization applicants was also substantially reduced from 10.5 months to 6.1 months.
Furthermore, USCIS introduced innovative technological solutions to enhance the customer experience, such as a self-service tool for biometrics appointment rescheduling, leading to over 33,000 rescheduled appointments in FY 2023. The agency’s enterprise change of address capabilities facilitated more than 430,000 online address changes, expecting to reduce Contact Center inquiries by up to 31%. Additionally, USCIS implemented a text-ahead feature for callers to the 1-800 number, ensuring a more predictable call-back window and minimizing missed calls.
Addressing the needs of U.S. employers, USCIS issued over 192,000 employment-based immigrant visas, surpassing pre-pandemic numbers. USCIS supported employers and noncitizen workers by extending the maximum validity period of Employment Authorization Documents to five years for adjustment of status applicants. The agency also proposed a new rule to strengthen worker protections and the integrity of the H-2 temporary worker program.
In fulfilling its humanitarian mission, USCIS made significant strides, conducting over 100,000 refugee interviews and resettling more than 60,000 refugees. The agency prioritized asylum cases for Afghan allies and their families and supported Biden-Harris Administration efforts to establish lawful pathways for individuals from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela. USCIS, a key partner in the Safe Mobility Office initiative, facilitated access to safe and lawful pathways in Central and South America, discouraging dangerous journeys.
Looking ahead to FY 2024, USCIS aims to build on its achievements while addressing remaining processing delays. The agency will work to maintain median processing times, propose new rules for program modernization, and expand its international footprint. Additionally, USCIS emphasizes the importance of a new fee schedule to recover operating costs, enhance efficiency, and prevent future backlogs, calling on Congress to pass the Administration’s supplemental funding request for additional resources.