USCIS Director Speech. We Are Hiring
Us Immigration Daily Update.
One year ago, President Biden issued several executive orders and proclamations that impact all US. Federal agencies are involved in the immigration process. These EOS seek to accomplish many things, but rooted in all of them is a firm and meaningful commitment to making the United States a stronger, more inclusive, and welcoming nation. Today, we will discuss USCIS regulatory, policy, and operational changes to implement these EOS. But you will also hear something more important. From my perspective, you will hear my ongoing commitment to fairly humanely and efficiently deliver immigration services. I fully recognize we have much more to do to achieve this administration’s vision for our nation’s immigration system, one that is based on trust, strength, inclusion, and equality. We had a record level of interest in today’s session. We ask that you share comments and questions ahead about today’s engagement, and you certainly did. There were some clear themes, and I will attempt to address many of these in my opening, as will my USCIS colleagues in their remarks. First and foremost is the foundational need to improve backlogs and processing times, as many of you shared publicly and privately with leadership at all levels here at USCIS. This is an issue that I take very seriously and that is critically important to me and my colleagues, including those joining me today. Let me be very clear our processing times are too long. There are no ifs, and, or buts about it. We received questions and feedback in advance from many of you expressing your frustration about processing delays. I know many of you submitted questions regarding the delays with K-One visas. Frankly, it doesn’t matter what benefit we are talking about or what you applied for, because every single applicant who seeks a benefit fromUSCIS is entitled to a timely decision. Be it yes or no.USCIS is clear about this, and we are taking important steps to ensure that we are addressing case processing times in a meaningful way. And although there is still much to do, that will take lots of time. Given our large backlog, we have made progress in key areas. For example, in July of 2021, USCIS eliminated its Socalled front log of Unopened applications, down from over 1 million in January of 2021. We’ve also reduced the queue for applicants waiting for biometric services appointments and application support centers. This queue had grown due to rescheduling and new physical distancing measures to protect the health and safety of our workforce and applicants during the pandemic. Today, the biometrics queue is a manageable 83,000, down from over 4 million in January 2021. One important note I am fully aware that backlog reduction is directly linked to staffing. This means hiring more officers and support staff, and we have been working diligently to bring on new staff to fill many existing vacancies that could not be addressed during the hiring freeze we recently experienced due to our agency’s financial issues. In 2020.Now that we have a stronger financial picture. We are hiring and we have established new positions. For example, thanks to new congressional funding to address backlogs, among other things, we will be able to hire close to 200 staff in the Asylum Divisionjust to focus on backlog reduction. I encourage anyone interested in our mission, our beautiful mission, to go to USAJobsGov to check out our career opportunities. We are hiring. In addition to hiring more staff to adjudicate cases, we are using all available policy and operational levers within the law to reduce both the number of pending cases and overall processing times. But there is much more work to be done to lead this key priority. I asked Dan Renault to serve as my senior counselor and lead an agency-wide initiative to address these very issues. And in this role, Dan brings together all the USCIS Directorates and program offices to test and evaluate ideas, identify opportunities, and steer the implementation of initiatives to increase efficiency and decrease wait times. And in a moment, Dan Renault will provide further updates on our backlog reduction efforts. I’m very proud of what I know our agency can do, and I want you to also have confidence that we can and we will do this. We hear you. We know those seeking our services need and deserve this commitment. We will continue working together to solidify our progress for the good of the nation. As a daughter of immigrants, I have been humbled to be the first woman and the first Mexican American and Calvin American to serve as USCIS Director. Thanks to my family and my personal experience, I know very well that naturalization and so many other immigration benefits are critical to those who seek them. And I appreciate everyone who works hard every day at USCIS to ensure that we are meeting our mission to deliver those benefits and services in a humane and timely way.