With all the news about recent delays, problems, and new obstacles in the immigration process, we wanted to quickly share a more positive update: some Adjustment of Status cases are being processed very quickly in the Portland, OR, area.
This trend began a few months ago when we noticed applicants receiving interview appointment notices within 1-3 months of filing their case. The interview is generally the last step in the Adjustment of Status process, so this means that applicants can potentially receive their green cards within just a few months of filing their application. Rather than receiving conditional Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) and temporary travel authorization while the case is pending, some applicants are skipping this step altogether and being issued green cards in less time than it takes the temporary documents to be approved.
While this does not reflect an official USCIS timeline or even a posted processing time for these types of applications, we recently confirmed that some national processing centers (where all applications are initially submitted) have adjusted their procedures in order to avoid cases stacking up. We learned that the reason that some cases are moving so quickly to the interview is that they do not require additional evidence and are therefore put on a fast track for processing.
When a case is received by the national processing center, an officer will conduct an initial review the case to see if any additional evidence is needed. A Request for Evidence (or “RFE”) is issued when a submitted case does not include sufficient financial, identity, or relationship evidence. The case cannot move forward until the requested documents are received, and so it will remain at the national processing center (often for many months).
RFEs are very common, especially as policies and requirements are always changing. It is not always possible to avoid an RFE, but it helps to file your case with lots of strong evidence and to include extra documentation or sworn statements about anything that might be unclear to the officer reviewing the case.
In the past, cases that did not require additional evidence would often sit at the national processing center for weeks or months waiting for an initial review, and would therefore take about the same amount of time to process. Based on the new timelines we are seeing, some officers are now transferring the non-RFE cases straight to the local field office where the applicant resides. The field office then schedules the case for an interview, which, in some large cities, can still take many months. Luckily for us, the Portland Field Office currently has very little wait time for these interviews, so applicants are receiving appointment notices right away.
We cannot say for sure that this trend will continue, but for now, we are thankful to see some cases move forward so quickly. Since USCIS is such a large, bureaucratic agency, it is important to do everything possible to keep petitions from being buried or delayed at the various stages of processing. By submitting a very strong and complete case upfront, it is possible to avoid several months of “lost time” as cases sit untouched at high-volume processing centers.