USCIS On Frontlog / Backlog, I-485 Processing, Naturalization, and Other Issues

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) held a stakeholder meeting on January 29, 2008, the details of which were released recently. Questions were answered on receipting frontlogs and case backlogs, processing times, special circumstances in naturalization cases, religious worker cases, and other immigration matters. Many of the topics discussed at the January 29th meeting are summarized here for the benefit of MurthyDotCom and MurthyBulletin readers.

USCIS Works on Eliminating Current Receipting Frontlog

The USCIS indicated at the end of January 2008 that they were receipting I-130, immigrant petitions for alien relatives received on December 14, 2007. All other forms, besides the I-130s, should be current in issuance of receipt notices. Anyone who files a petition or application with the USCIS should receive the receipt notice (Form I-797) within the normal receipt issuance period, which is supposed to be two weeks. It is our experience at the Murthy Law Firm that this can take a few weeks or longer.

USCIS on Backlog of Naturalization Cases

With regard to the current backlog of cases, the naturalization application backlog presents a significant problem. Detailed information on naturalization adjudication delays may be found in our February 22, 2008, MurthyBulletin article, USCIS Expects Significant Processing Delays for Citizenship Applications, available on MurthyDotCom. At the stakeholder meeting, the USCIS indicated that the agency is currently in the process of hiring new officers to assist with eliminating the backlog of naturalization cases.

New Naturalization Test Effective from October 1, 2008

As regular MurthyDotCom and MurthyBulletin readers know, the new naturalization test will go into effect on October 1, 2008. Information on the new test was provided in our February 1, 2008 MurthyBulletin article, CIS Ombudsman Releases Q/As on New Naturalization Test. In response to the question of whether the USCIS will make public its internal guidance with regard to the new test administration, the USCIS explained that, “because these processes concern internal agency matters, this memorandum has not been offered for general publication.”

The USCIS also responded to a question on when a naturalization applicant is unable to sign the application due to a disability. The USCIS agreed that the current instructions are not clear and it will provide clarification on this matter in the near future.

R-1 Religious Worker Issues

As regular MurthyDotCom and MurthyBulletin readers may recall from our May 11, 2007 article, USCIS Proposes Revisions for Religious Workers, the USCIS may conduct employer site visits on a pending R-1 (nonimmigrant religious worker) petition. When the site visits result in significant delays in the adjudication of R-1 petitions, the beneficiaries of these petitions for extension of R-1 status may not be able to continue employment if the delay is beyond 240 days. The USCIS indicated that it would not toll the number of days during which the I-129 petition is pending due to security reviews and site visits.


This stakeholders’ meeting shed some light on the internal workings of the USCIS. As this information directly concerns many individuals, as well as employers who hire foreign nationals, we are happy to share it with our MurthyDotCom and MurthyBulletin readers.

Disclaimer: The information provided here is of a general nature and may not apply to any specific or particular circumstance. It is not to be construed as legal advice nor presumed indefinitely up to date.