Highlights of USCIS FY 2022 Progress Report

December 21, 2022

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has released its Fiscal Year 2022 Progress Report. This new report outlines how the agency successfully reduced backlogs in critical areas. It also highlights how the agency met some of the immense demand for labor in many industries.

The report contains several noteworthy pieces of data. Such data includes how almost one million immigrants received U.S. citizenship in the year. This success is the third-largest number of recorded naturalized citizens, reducing the net backlog of applications by 62%.

It also highlights one of the year’s most noteworthy developments: allocating all available employment-based immigrant visas during FY 2022. This record-breaking achievement required the agency to issue double the number of EB visas it did even before the pandemic.

However, the agency had problems with an increasing number of non-citizens who had valid Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) losing their work authorization while waiting for renewal applications to finish processing. In response to this, the USCIS put interim guidance to extend the time work permits were valid for 400,000 non-citizens. This extension kept some permits from expiring while the renewal applications continued pending. However, the agency still did not comply with court orders that required them to adjudicate specific applications for EADs within thirty days.

During FY 2022, the USCIS made more supplemental H-2B non-agricultural worker visas available than in previous years due to new rules. They also increased protections for both non-citizen workers and U.S. citizens.

The USCIS implemented other policies that affected non-citizens and employers. Here are a few of these policies:

  • Published a comprehensive menu of options for professionals in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) to work in the United States. The USCIS also added detailed policy guidance for those seeking O-1 status for individuals of “extraordinary ability” or EB-2 green cards with a “national interest waiver” that allows self-petitioning by individuals of exceptional ability or holding advanced degrees;
  • Authorized spouses of E- and L-visa holders to work immediately without the requirement to apply and wait for an EAD. The USCIS also applied the automatic extension of employment authorization for renewal EAD applications filed by these E and L spouses and certain H-4 spouses;
  • Implemented significant reforms to the EB-5 immigrant investor program following bipartisan passage of the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act;
  • Established a process for healthcare and childcare workers to make an expedited request to process initial EAD applications. This process applies to applications pending for more than 90 days or renewal applications that would expire within 30 days or have already expired;
  • Initiated the expansion of premium processing while adhering to the congressional requirement that such services must not cause an increase in processing times for regular immigration benefit requests; and
  • Issued double the typical number of employment-based immigrant visas, as discussed above.

The report points out the improvements the USCIS made during FY 2022. However, the agency still faces several problems, such as long processing times. As a result, the USCIS intends to increase staffing and encourage using its online case status platform. The agency also plans to continue issuing new guidance to simplify the adjudication of applications. Despite these efforts, the USCIS admitted that it would need more appropriations from Congress to reduce its backlogs and increase its humanitarian services.

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