Starting to Reduce Courts' Backlog
After the former administration piled immigration cases upon immigration cases, the Biden administration now faces a severe backlog. As seen by the graphic below, out of the hundreds of thousands of people seeking to get Immigrant Visas only a handful have interviews scheduled. For example the 2019 monthly average of people waiting for visa interviews was 60,866 compared to 506,221 people in June 2021. This backlog makes Biden’s desire to reform the system more difficult, yet immigration advocates are hopeful that Biden will succeed in dismantling the previous administration’s restrictive policies while making his own mark on the system through substantial reform.
Source: Analysis of data from DOS webpage, “National Visa Center (NVC) Immigrant Visa Backlog Report” https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/visa-information-resources/visas-backlog.html
Hopeful news is that on Friday June 25th, ICE lawyers were given the discretion to drop cases against longtime residents and those deeply rooted in the states. On Friday it was also suggested for cases more than 5 years-old to be delayed, nixing another 200,000 cases from the backlog. In other news the Department of State (DOS) has broadened interview waiver eligibility for NIVs. Additionally, consular posts are starting to hold routine visa services returning to the old normal.
The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) has 7 suggestions for the Biden administration on how to eliminate backlog: Reopen America, resume statewide processing of visa renewals, expand visa interview waiver eligibility, automatically extend visas that have expired during the COVID-19 global pandemic by 24 months, maximize staffing on IV processing at consular posts, revise regulations to allow virtual immigrant and non-immigrant visa interviews, and leverage U.S.-based consular officers to adjudicate visa applications.
Take Action: Advocate for the Biden administration to eliminate restrictive immigration policies (i.e. Title 42 and COVID-19 based travel bans) through filling out AILA’s 3 question form (at the bottom of the linked article) which emails law makers urging them to make reforms.
AILA. “AILA - Policy Brief: Reopening America - How DOS Can Reduce Delays and Eliminate Backlogs and Inefficiencies to Create a Welcoming America.” American Immigration Lawyers Association, June 29, 2021. https://www.aila.org/advo-media/aila-policy-briefs/policy-brief-reopening-america.
Beitsch, Rebecca. “Courts Drowning in Backlog Pose Lingering Immigration Challenge.” TheHill. The Hill, June 6, 2021. https://thehill.com/policy/national-security/556933-courts-drowning-in-backlog-pose-lingering-immigration-challenge.