Presently, the administration has focused primarily on the country’s economics and the need for reform of the American healthcare system. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), however, is preparing for the eventual announcement that the President is turning his eyes to comprehensive immigration reform, commonly referred to as CIR. Once this reform has been initiated, USCIS expects a considerable increase in the numbers of cases.
Prior to the most recent presidential elections, Barak Obama indicated his resolve to significantly reform the immigration process. He has made it clear that this reform will involve the large numbers of undocumented immigrants currently residing in the United States. In fact, a part of the reform proposal is expected to contain a plan for status legalization for many of these people.
America’s present economic condition makes it likely that legalization will be strongly opposed, and the current lack of jobs for legal residents and U.S. citizens makes opposition even more likely. Despite this, USCIS is aware that at least some cases will be presented to that agency for consideration, and this is likely to bog down an already backlogged immigration service even more.
At present, people who apply for I-140 visas (which are also known as “green cards”) must wait up to one year after their petition is filed for an interview to be scheduled. The process can be complicated by documentation or education issues. Sometimes, the USCIS issues a Request for Evidence, or RFE, indicating that some aspect of the petitioner’s application – possibly the labor certificate or educational credentials – requires further investigation.
Many companies who employ legal residents, as well as workers residing in the U.S. on temporary work visas, such as H1B visas, are concerned that this anticipated increase in USCIS’s caseload will further slow the visa approval process. Many employers depend on highly trained or skilled workers who enter the country on employment-based visas, and could experience a shortage of trained employees if this potential problem does become a reality.
The USCIS caseload is already backlogged, and the H1B visa cap did not fill for 2009 as a consequence, in part, of the recession. If the economy does recover substantially, and visa applications do increase significantly in the coming year, USCIS will need to meet the usual demands of H1B visa season, as well as Obama’s proposed immigration reform.
The American public will watch the reform proposals with interest and how they affect the USCIS remains to be seen, but an increased caseload is almost certain.