The immigration agency points out that it completed processing of 10.75 lakh applications and administered the citizenship oath to 9.67 new US citizens. If children are also considered, 10.23 lakh obtained US citizenship during the year ended September 30, 2022.
Country-wise breakup for the fiscal year 2022 is not available in this progress report, however, historic data shows that Indians follow Mexicans in obtaining US citizenship.
To illustrate, during the fiscal year 2021, 8.13 lakh foreign nationals obtained US citizenship, of which 1.13 lakh (or 14 %) were Mexicans and 57,043 (or 7 %) were Indians.
As was reported by TOI earlier, USCIS issued all available employment-based immigration visas (green cards) in fiscal year 2022. Of the 2.75 lakh such green cards that were issued, 91,639 (or 33%) were allotted to Indians.
Owing to the pandemic family-based green card quota was not utilised, causing a roll-over of unused numbers into the employment-based category. In fiscal year 2021, there was a wastage of the carry-over numbers, but efforts by USCIS resulted in full utilisation during the fiscal year 2022.
“This was an all-hands-on-deck effort across the agency given that any unused visas at the end of the fiscal year would become unavailable starting on Oct. 1, 2022, the start of FY 2023. In the final quarter, USCIS worked cases 7 days a week to effectively address pending applications. This surge of overtime resources was made possible by congressional appropriations specifically directed for backlog reduction efforts,” cites the progress report.
“Every immigration case entrusted to us represents an individual or a family seeking to build a better life in the United States,” said Ur Mendoza Jaddou, director at USCIS. “We have made measurable progress towards building a more humane immigration system thanks to the innovation and dedication of the USCIS workforce. There is more work to do, especially to reduce processing times for all people we serve, and congressional support is critical to achieving our ambitious backlog reduction goals in the year ahead,” she added.
In the months ahead, the immigration agency plans to build on this progress by implementing premium processing for all petitions for immigrant workers (Form I-140) and certain employment authorization applications (Form I-765) for students and exchange visitors. It also plans to provide biometrics exemption for all applicants for change of non-immigrant status and extension of non-immigrant stay (Form I-539); and simplifying several common forms, including the applications for employment authorization (Form I-765), adjustment of status (Form I-485), and naturalization (Form N-400).
In addition, the progress report highlights upcoming steps to advance the USCIS humanitarian mission, including online filing and notices, new rulemakings, and increased staffing and public engagement.