USCIS processing time report indicates that EB I-129 nonimmigrant processing time is two months and certain I-140 processing times have been reduced to as short as four months. However, it is well known that the number of RFEs and denials have increased substantially and obviously the monthly reports may just reflect the processing times for unchallenged cases.

The USCIS has not released details of current state of issuance of RFEs and denials. However, the processing time report of AAO of the USCIS indirectly reflects scale of denials that have ended up with the appeals of the denials. The July 1, 2009 AAO processing time report indicates that the AAO processing of appeals is experiencing increased backlogs. The worst backlogs are clearly noticeable particularly in major areas of employment-based nonimmigrant and immigrant petitions.

For instance, the processing times for AAO appeals are: H-1B=16 months, EB-2 I-140=26 months(!), EB-3 I-140=22 months(!), and EW I-140=18 months. Besides, in the past, in many types of appeals of applications and petitions, AAO did not experience any backlogs, but the picture has changed now.

Such backlog raises issues at two levels. The first issue is need for improvement in adjudication of these cases at the field offices. Increase in the number of appeals may not necessarily reflect that the petitioners filed deniable cases in all cases.

Unless these cases had a merit, the petitioners would not have appealed the denials. The USCIS leadership should review the current ailing problem in this area. The second issue is the resources in AAO. Again we do not have any raw data to assess the details of resources of AAO. However, the increasing backlogs should caught the attention of the USCIS leadership to resolve the problem. One wonders how much this problem has been addressed in FY 2009 and FY 2010 budget appropriation process by the USCIS and DHS leadership.

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