Processing Time Improvements for Certain I-130 / I-485 Filings

For some time, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) has been taking steps to reduce the processing times for “stand alone” I-130 petitions filed on behalf of immediate relatives – that is, family-based cases filed for the parent, spouse, or (unmarried, minor) child of a U.S. citizen without an accompanying I-485, usually because the beneficiary is abroad. To that end, the National Benefits Center (NBC) of the USCIS redistributed workloads to various service centers earlier this year, resulting in a reduction in the average processing time for these cases to five months.

Processing Delays on I-130 Petitions

The USCIS has a stated goal of processing I-130 petitions within five months. Meeting this target had been a struggle, however, as discussed in the MurthyDotCom NewsBrief, USCIS Working to Improve Time for USC Immediate Relative Cases (04.Dec.2013). These processing delays were of particular concern for “stand alone” I-130 petitions filed on behalf of immediate relatives; this is because, unlike other types of family-based cases, once a I-130 for an immediate relative is approved, the case can move forward without waiting for a priority date to become current. Family-Based Immigration Simplified, an InfoArticle on MurthyDotCom, offers a more complete overview of how immediate relative cases compare to family “preference” cases.

Workload Transfers of I-130 Petitions

The USCIS often reallocates workloads among the various centers to try to improve processing times. The NBC confirmed that several thousand “stand alone” I-130s were transferred to the service centers in Texas (TSC) and Vermont (VSC). When such a transfer occurs, the NBC issues a transfer notice to the petitioner.

Workload Transfers: I-485 Transfers to Local Offices

The USCIS also shifted adjudication responsibility for some I-485 applications to local field offices, even if an interview is not required. It is standard practice for I-485 applications to be transferred to the USCIS field offices when an in-person interview with the applicant is necessary. Typically, however, in “interview waiver” (I-485 IW) cases, where no interview is needed, the decision is made at the service center level. In an attempt to better distribute workloads, some IW cases were transferred to be adjudicated locally. Applicants do not receive transfer notices in this type of situation. Thus, if an applicant receives a transfer notice for an I-485, reflecting a move to a local office, the individual should continue to expect to be scheduled for an interview.


The USCIS faces many challenges with case processing time lines, in part this is due to spikes in demand and legally mandated timelines for certain types of adjudications. Redistributing work and prioritizing case types can help make the process more manageable. The Murthy Law Firm appreciates the transparency offered by the NBC regarding these efforts to reduce processing delays.

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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.