The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services USCIS acknowledged that due to a huge increase in applications for green cards and citizenship in July of 2007, the average waiting time for legal residency and citizenship is now 18 months. The surge in applications in July of 2007 (7 times more than the average month), which resulted in the increased waiting time from approximately 7 months to 18 months, was due to applicants submitting their papers just before the almost 50% increase in fees on July 30, 2007.
The USCIS has been under fire for not anticipating and planning for the huge increase in applications last July, although they did hire 750 additional agents for the sole purpose of working on applications. Michael Aytes, the associate director of domestic operations of USCIS has pledged that the agency will keep its promise made at the time of the increase: that in return for the higher fees, by 2010, applications for U.S. citizenship will be processed within 5 months, and petitions for green cards will be handled within four months.
This writer is somewhat skeptical about these optimistic predictions from the USCIS, but we will give the agency the benefit of the doubt and hope that these 750 extra officers will make the difference once the July 2007 surge in applications is two years behind us.