The backlog in immigration cases within the United States is well-known and extensive, but recent issues may lead to the lines for immigrants getting longer.
Already established backlogs, the influx of of children seeking asylum over the summer of 2014 and the new DACA and DAPA programs will all contribute to immigration applications taking longer to adjudicate.
Additionally, it has been the policy of the U.S. federal government over the past decade to increase border security and pursue deportations and removals at greater rates than in previous U.S. history. This, combined with a disinterest in increasing the number of immigrant judges in the system creates something of a backlog, which further pushes immigrants cases back.
Delays can be hard on immigrants applying for benefits to the United States as they must supply a great deal of supporting evidence to receive immigration benefits and this evidence often has an expiration date. Supporting family members may pass away while immigrants wait, documents may be lost, deadlines and time-limits may come and go and cause further trouble to immigrants.
Immigration wait times for those applying outside of the United States are determined by the visa bulletin, a monthly publication that estimates when visas will become available to certain classes of immigrants. These wait times are in turn determined by the total number of visas available in a year, which is determined by the U.S. Congress.
This is often why it is very important for immigrants to file for immigration early and for multiple types. For example, an immigrant who wishes to immigrate based on the fact that their sibling is a U.S. citizen may have to wait several years to get a visa, but during that time they can apply for the State Department’s visa lottery to potentially shorten their wait.