The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that there will be substantial delays, of at least one year in some cases, in processing citizenship and green card applications. These delays were brought on by two significant events: First, early in 2007, the USCIS announced that fees for all applications would be increased on July 30, 2007. For example, the fee for submission of the N-400 Naturalization application went up 66% from $405.00 to $675.00 on July 30th of this year. As a result of this announcement, applications filed in July and August of 2007 were double that in the same two months in 2006. In all, USCIS received 2.5 million applications in July and August of 2007. The second major development prompting increased filings was the anti-immigration debate in Congress this year, which coincided with the USCIS announcing that they were preparing a more difficult test for aspiring citizens.
As of November 16th, the Texas and Vermont Processing Centers are just now acknowledging receipt of naturalization petitions received in July, 2007. The processing backlogs at present are completely different than those in the past involving immigrants seeking legal residency from countries like Mexico and the Philippines, in which annual limits on green cards have often resulted in delays of several years. The USCIS has announced that with the revenue from increased fees, it will hire 1,500 new employees, an increase of its current staff of 15,000, to assist in clearing the backlog. The goal is apparently to complete naturalization applications submitted this past summer in time for these applicants to vote in the November, 2008 elections.