New USCIS Processing Times for Form I-485

What happened?
USCIS released ‘Processing Times’ and ‘Case Inquiry Dates’ based on a new methodology.

  • Learn how to read, interpret and use this new information.
  • Form I-485: examine the data for all USCIS Field Offices (updated every day with the latest from USCIS) and read our analysis.

Which immigration forms have new processing times?

Form I-485 (adjust status), Form I-751 (remove conditions on a two-year green card obtained though marriage), Form I-90 (renew a 10-year green cards), N-400 (naturalize to acquire U.S. citizenship).


Why the change?

The processing times displayed by USCIS have been unhelpful to applicants for years. The goal is to get relevant information to applicants.


Does that mean that USCIS will process applications faster?

Unfortunately the answer is no. USCIS changed the way they will communicate about their process in the future, but they have not changed the process itself.

What do the new processing times mean?

The processing times now display an ‘Estimated Time Range’ in months for each of the four forms, and for each USCIS Service Center and each USCIS Field Office. Here is an example for the Boston Field Office for all forms I-485 (family and employment):

USCIS General Processing Time

Our first recommendation is, when applicable, to look at the more specific range at the bottom of the page. Here, we will focus on family-based I-485s:

USCIS Family and Employment Processing Time

This means that, for family-based I-485s, starting with the date the I-485 is filed:

  • 50% of the I-485 are adjudicated within 7 months of their filing
  • 93% of the I-485 are adjudicated within 18 months of their filing

What about the ‘Case Inquiry Date’?

What USCIS is essentially saying is that, if you are part of the 7% that are beyond the high range of the processing times, you can get in touch with them through an ‘outside of processing time’ request. In the Boston Field Office, for family-based I-485s, you can submit a request if you submitted your I-485 before October 10th, 2016:

USCIS Case Inquiry Date


How often will the information be updated?

It sounds like USCIS will update the processing times at least every month (as opposed to every 3 months in the ‘old’ approach), within two weeks of the end of the month (as opposed to 6 weeks in the ‘old’ approach). For certain USCIS Field Offices, the Case Inquiry Date is said to be ‘rolling’, progressing by one day every day.

What about the other forms, including Form I-130?

This is a ‘pilot’, so a trial based on which USCIS says they will gather feedback, adjust their methodology if need be, and then extend to other forms. The calendar associated with a broader rollout is not known.

The forms that are not part of the pilot are now displaying a range. The range is made of the old date and the old date + 30%. Because the ‘old’ date is still computed using the ‘old’ backlog-driven methodology, this is not an improvement as much as a vague attempt at managing applicants’ expectations.


What do the Processing Times released by USCIS for family I-485s tell you?

Our congratulations and thanks to what looks to be the 10 fastest USCIS Field Offices for the processing of Form I-485:

  • Manchester, New Hampshire
  • Cleveland, Ohio
  • Kansas City, Kansas
  • Raleigh, North Carolina
  • Indianapolis, Indiana
  • Yakima, Washington State
  • Portland, Maine
  • Columbus, Ohio
  • San Bernardino, California
  • Detroit, Michigan

What do the Case Interview Dates released by USCIS for family I-485s tell you?

The ‘Case Inquiry Date’ for the ‘average’ applicant for family-based I-485s is approximately September 2016. Field Offices with Case Inquiry Dates after September 2016 may provide applicants better service than the norm.

What are the Processing Times and Case Inquiry Dates released by USCIS for Form I-485 for all USCIS Field Offices?

Please note the following about the data provided in Table 1.:

  • The data provided is exclusively for family-based requests to adjust status (not employment).
  • ‘Low’ is the low-end of the range communicated by USCIS for the Field Office. It is expressed in ‘months’. It corresponds to ‘50% of the cases completed’.
  • ‘High’ is the high-end of the range communicated by USCIS for the Field Office. It is expressed in ‘months’. It corresponds to ‘93% of the cases completed’.
  • The data is up to date as of early this morning (Eastern Time of the United States), because we update this table every day (‘Case Inquiry Dates’ for certain Field Offices are updated every day)
USCIS Field Offices Processing Times. Updated Daily.
USCIS Field Office
Low
High
Case Inquiry Date
Agana GU10.521.5Sep 1, 2016
Albany NY7.516.5Jan 15, 2017
Albuquerque NM8.521Sep 4, 2016
Anchorage AK10.521.5Sep 1, 2016
Atlanta GA1129Jan 17, 2016
Baltimore MD7.521.5Aug 19, 2016
Boise ID9.517Jan 1, 2017
Boston MA718Dec 7, 2016
Brooklyn NY1320Oct 7, 2016
Buffalo NY518Dec 1, 2016
Casper WY10.521.5Sep 1, 2016
Charleston SC725May 12, 2016
Charlotte Amalie VI10.521.5Sep 1, 2016
Charlotte NC1018Dec 2, 2016
Chicago IL11.532Oct 12, 2015
Christiansted VI10.521.5Sep 1, 2016
Cincinnati OH6.522.5Jul 28, 2016
Cleveland OH411.5Jun 27, 2017
Columbus OH515Mar 12, 2017
Dallas TX14.531.5Oct 30, 2015
Denver CO14.529Jan 15, 2016
Des Moines IA1017Jan 6, 2017
Detroit MI5.515Mar 1, 2017
El Paso TX14.528Feb 11, 2016
Fort Myers FL13.524Jun 16, 2016
Fort Smith AR10.521.5Sep 1, 2016
Fresno CA816.5Jan 21, 2017
Greer SC9.516.5Jan 18, 2017
Harlingen TX1223Jul 7, 2016
Hartford CT9.521Sep 10, 2016
Helena MT8.513May 5, 2017
Hialeah FL11.521Sep 15, 2016
Honolulu HI10.514.5Mar 18, 2017
Houston TX1829.5Dec 26, 2015
Imperial CA6.513May 3, 2017
Indianapolis IN514Mar 31, 2017
Jacksonville FL618Dec 2, 2016
Kansas City MO612.5May 25, 2017
Kendall FL1018.5Nov 28, 2016
Las Vegas NV1117.5Dec 22, 2016
Lawrence MA6.527Mar 15, 2016
Long Island NY1026.5Mar 27, 2016
Los Angeles CA1023.5Jun 25, 2016
Los Angeles County CA1230Dec 20, 2015
Louisville KY721.5Aug 29, 2016
Manchester NH5.511Jul 13, 2017
Memphis TN9.518Dec 3, 2016
Miami FL16.520.5Sep 27, 2016
Milwaukee WI813.5Apr 25, 2017
Minneapolis-St. Paul MN14.523.5Jul 4, 2016
Montgomery AL1325.5Apr 21, 2016
Mount Laurel NJ9.521Sep 10, 2016
Newark NJ1120.5Sep 18, 2016
New Orleans LA1120Oct 5, 2016
New York City NY1219Nov 7, 2016
Norfolk VA6.520Oct 4, 2016
Oakland Park FL15.526.5Mar 25, 2016
Oklahoma City OK8.517.5Dec 29, 2016
Omaha NE822.5Jul 28, 2016
Orlando FL1319.5Oct 25, 2016
Philadelphia PA9.520Oct 4, 2016
Phoenix AZ1423.5Jun 29, 2016
Pittsburgh PA4.518.5Nov 20, 2016
Portland ME5.516.5Jan 19, 2017
Portland OR615Mar 15, 2017
Providence RI816Feb 11, 2017
Queens NY1217.5Dec 19, 2016
Raleigh NC5.512.5May 17, 2017
Reno NV9.516Feb 10, 2017
Sacramento CA9.514Apr 4, 2017
Saint Albans VT11.527Mar 18, 2016
Saint Louis MO8.523.5Jun 20, 2016
Salt Lake City UT10.517Jan 12, 2017
San Antonio TX9.517.5Dec 21, 2016
San Bernardino CA5.515Mar 9, 2017
San Diego CA5.517.5Dec 28, 2016
San Fernando Valley CA10.525.5Apr 24, 2016
San Francisco CA11.517Jan 13, 2017
San Jose CA516.5Jan 22, 2017
San Juan PR920Oct 14, 2016
Santa Ana CA10.516Jan 31, 2017
Seattle WA1117Jan 13, 2017
Spokane WA8.520.5Sep 24, 2016
Tampa FL6.517Jan 8, 2017
Tucson AZ7.515Mar 1, 2017
Washington DC10.518Dec 13, 2016
West Palm Beach FL10.517.5Dec 29, 2016
Wichita KS818Dec 2, 2016
Yakima WA714.5Mar 18, 2017

What is Immigration Planner’s preliminary analysis of the new approach?

Like many, we are delighted that USCIS is tackling the processing time issue and we will certainly provide our feedback and the one of our community to USCIS. This is our current assessment:

  • The ‘Case Inquiry Date’ is an improvement, because it is clear and actionable by applicants.
  • Focusing more specifically on Form I-485, the new processing time range is an improvement but its impact is currently reduced by the following factors:
    • The filing date of Form I-485 for some applicants has been dictated by the ‘Filing Date’ of the Visa Bulletin, when the actual adjudication is guided by the ‘Final Action Date’ of the Visa Bulletin. As a result, it seems that the processing time range could be materially impacted by the fluctuations of the ‘distance’ between Filing and Action Dates.
    • The computations include the time associated with Request for Evidence (RFE) for applicants who receive one. The numbers would be more meaningful to applicants if processing times without RFE were known, and separate numbers associated with the impact of RFEs were communicated.
    • The computations are based only on last month’s completion. Such a small sample size might inflate volatility, although it is hard to say at this point.
  • The new ‘range’ using the ‘old’ methodology for forms not part of the pilot is not convincing at all. It is simply artificially broadening a range, acknowledging that the old approach lead applicants to be too optimistic because they misunderstood the data.
  • USCIS is using different percentages in different situation. For instance, the ‘personalized’ processing time accessible to applicants through myUSCIS will be based on the time it takes for 80% of the applications to be adjudicated. 80% is neither the 50% or the 93% that is used for USCIS Offices. We are not saying this is a bad idea, but the rationale behind the choice is not completely clear. Traditionally, USCIS would first communicate the average processing time for all applicants and then communicate the extent of the ‘dispersion’ around that average.

Why now?

The processing times displayed by USCIS have been unhelpful to applicants for years. The dates given by USCIS were understood by applicants as the priority date of of the case currently being reviewed by a USCIS Office when in fact they were an indication of the backlog of pending applications.

DHSThe shortcomings of the USCIS system have been pointed out by multiple reports emanating from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the CIS Ombudsman starting more than a decade ago.When yet another report by the Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued in March 2018 underscored the deficiencies, USCIS might have felt it was time to start acting.

Immigration Planner now has a public group to answer your questions about family green cards. Do it yourself, just not alone.

Posted by Immigration Planner on Friday, March 23, 2018