USCIS Releases I-485 Employment-Based Inventory Data
The Legal Immigration Association was founded two years ago by engineers in Silicon Valley. Fed up with visa backlogs, this group works closely with USCIS to help make processing more efficient and less discriminatory. Last year, LIA suggested that USCIS should release inventory data on its pending green card applications. USCIS complied. Beginning in early 2009, delegates in Washington met with LIA representatives to see this measure through.
On September 23, 2009, USCIS publicly released data on its pending employment-based visa applications for the very first time. This inventory is just one of several actions taken by USCIS to improve its I-485 processing. In addition to that, USCIS has recently published a set of procedures for inquiries and has also reinstated premium processing for EB-1 applications for an extra fee of $1000.
This inventory represents a landmark victory for LIA and all applicants curious about their standing in ¡°line¡±; it gives petitioners waiting a very precise idea of how many people are in front of them. USCIS already publishes a monthly visa bulletin; naturally, information on I-140 petitions should follow suite.
The I-485 inventory data is split up into six different charts, one general, and five based on country of origin. When determining your place in ¡°line¡±, you should look at both, the general one as well as your own country specific chart. The U.S. experiences larger visa volume from countries like Mexico, the Philippines, China, and India. As such, applicants from those specific countries may move up in line slower than others.
To find out exactly where you stand, you must know your priority date. Once you have your priority date, you can estimate how many people are in front of you. For instance, let us say that you are from mainland China, your priority date is November 2004, and you applied in the EB-2 category. That means you will need to add all of the numbers prior to the year 2004 in addition to all of the numbers from the months preceding the month of your priority date. In other words, you will need to add up all of the numbers from 1997 to 2003 and from January to October 2004. Based on this hypothetical example, it shows in the general chart that there are approximately 5,598 people waiting in front of you. You can also use this to determine how many people from your country are ahead of you as well. Based on this formula, you will find that there are 153 other applicants from mainland China waiting in front of you.
According to their website, USCIS plans to update this information every quarter. By comparing old reports with recent ones, a petitioner can see the progress made in a particular category; this will allow the petitioner to better assess how long it will take to process his/her application.
Right now, USCIS states that there over 200,000 petitioners waiting on the results of their I-485 employment-based applications. The Legal Immigration Association believes that it is imperative for these immigrants to know approximate processing times. Without a green card, LIA maintains that it is nearly impossible for foreign educated professionals to advance in the workforce and to start their own businesses. They also maintain that the green card application process is unduly time-consuming and lengthy, and may take up 10 years for some to receive approval. As such, this organization has worked tirelessly to help enact measures like the one mentioned above. Hopefully, with more cooperative efforts between USCIS and grassroots organizations like LIA, employment based immigration will continue to improve.
You may click here to see the inventory data.
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