Over 200,000 Green Cards Wasted In 2021 As Backlog Explodes

USCIS released data on petition, green card, and naturalization applications and denials for fiscal year 2021.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently released processing and case completion data on all Forms, including family-, fiancé(e)-, and employment– based petitions, green card, and naturalization applications for fiscal year 2021. This data set contains new statistics for the fourth quarter of 2021, as well as the full FY2021, which for USCIS ran from October 2020 through September 2021.

According to one USCIS report, the agency claimed to have a net backlog of 2.5 million cases at the end of FY2019. However, its Service-wide Forms report for that same year showed an actual outstanding backlog of nearly 5.7 million cases. By the end of FY2020, USCIS’ own Forms and policies, fiscal and staffing problems, pandemic-related office closures, and an inability to receive or process most application types electronically had compounded the backlog, which hit 3.1 million net cases and 6.1 million actual, pending cases by the end of the 2020 fiscal year.

2021 saw the USCIS backlog continue to grow drastically. Fortunately, roughly 69% of the 8.84 million immigration applications submitted to USCIS in FY2021 were approved, while a little more than 808,000 were denied. However, despite USCIS completing nearly 80% of the cases it received in FY2021, the processing backlog at the agency grew to more than 8 million pending cases at the end of FY2021. This reflects a 31% increase over FY2020, and a 40% increase since September 2019 in the overall backlog.

Following is a breakdown of the numbers released by USCIS for FY2021, along with comparisons to previous years.

Application Numbers Continue to Rise as Backlogs Explode
Despite the pandemic, 2020 was a busy year for USCIS, and 2021 saw an even larger number of applications and petitions received by the agency — an increase of 18 percent.

The approval rate across all Forms showed a marked increase in the fourth quarter of 2021, rising from less than 58% in the third quarter to just over 81% in the fourth.

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