Backlog Elimination Strategy Proposed by USCIS. Is it Practical?
On June 17, 2004, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service issued a Fact Sheet regarding the redundancies of immigration applications. The USCIS aims to bring forth a business model to eliminate the backlog and at the same time enhance national security. According to the Fact Sheet, this new approach represents a focused effort that will eliminate the backlog and ensure a six-month or less processing time by the end of 2006.
Based upon a cycle time of up to six months, the USCIS backlog at the end of FY 2003 was 3.7 million cases. Each year, the USCIS receives roughly six million applications. During the next three years, the USCIS claims it will eliminate the 3.7 million backlogged cases by changing the culture through which immigration services and benefits are administered. The USCIS alleges that its efforts are already paying dividends. Since the end of FY 2003, the USCIS has reduced the backlog by more than 212,000.
We certainly welcome the government’s initiatives in eliminating the backlogs. However, we are somewhat skeptical about whether or not the proposed strategy will work as well as the government alleges. The government enumerates new management tools, better technology and improved policies and procedures as the method for eliminating the backlog. A simple math shows that in order to reach the goal, more than 1.2 millions of cases have to be reduced each year, which by no means can be achieved by the current rate of 212,000 per half year. Besides, it assumes that not even a single case is delayed or backlogged within the three-year period. The number speaks, and they do not match the government’s optimistic prediction.
We are hoping that the government’s new approach will result in improved performance in processing immigration applications, but the actual benefits of such approach is remained to be seen.