Written by: Taher Kameli, Esq.
It would be reasonable to think that an “annual report” would be issued on a yearly basis. However, unfortunately, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) had not issued an annual report on its benefits and programs for roughly a decade. Finally, on May 31, USCIS issued “2018 USCIS Statistical Annual Report”, covering the activities and operations of USCIS from fiscal year 2014 through fiscal year 2018.
In releasing the 2018 Statistical Annual Report, USCIS Director L. Francis Cissna (who just announced his resignation, effective June 1) stated, “The 2018 USCIS Statistical Annual Report represents a key piece in our continued commitment to provide improved awareness of the nature and scope of work accomplished by the dedicated men and women of USCIS. . . . Following a long absence, we are again publishing an annual report, emphasizing our promise of full transparency and accountability to the American people. . . . In the last fiscal year, USCIS adjudicated more than eight million requests for immigration benefits, which is a 28 percent increase over the last five fiscal years. . . . USCIS also helped make the American dream become a reality for 757,000 new citizens, a five year high in new oaths of citizenship. The annual report also showcases the work our agency does to protect the integrity of our nation’s immigration through fraud detection, national security vetting, and administering E-Verify, a web-based system used to protect jobs for legal workers. We are proud of the good work accomplished by our dedicated staff to fairly and efficiently administer our nation’s legal immigration system, protect the homeland, and honor our values”.
Among the other specific information in the 2018 Statistical Annual Report are that “[i]n FY 2018, USCIS adjudicated more than 630,000 I-485 [‘adjustment of status’] applications, which is a 4 percent increase from fiscal year 2017 and a 10 percent increase from fiscal year 2014. Family-based LPR [‘Lawful Permanent Resident’] applications represented 47 percent of I-485 applications processed in FY 2018, totaling more than 300,000 completions, a slight decrease (4 percent) from the previous fiscal year. Employment-based LPR completions similarly exhibited a slight decrease from FY 2017, totaling more than 120,000 completions in FY 2018. The overall increase in I-485 applications processed in fiscal year 2018 is explained by the increase in the number of refugee/asylee and all other [‘All other includes Diversity, Parolees, NACARA, Cancellation of Removals, Haitian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act, among others’] applications processed. Refugee/asylee completions reached nearly 115,000 in FY 2018, which is a 24 percent increase from FY 2017, and an 18 percent increase from FY 2014. The last category of I-485 applications completed – all other – reached 102,000 applications adjudicated in FY 2018, rising from 88,000 completions (15 percent increase) in FY 2017, and 68,000 completions (49 percent increase) in FY 2014. The overall approval rate of I-485 applications processed in fiscal year 2018 was 91 percent, which is consistent with approval rates over the past five fiscal years”, “USCIS adjudicated nearly 82,000 affirmative asylum applications (Form I-589) in FY 2018, a 61 percent increase from the previous fiscal year. During FY 2018, USCIS announced a shift away from ‘First-in, First out’ processing of affirmative asylum cases to ‘Last-in, First-out’ processing and has seen some success in its efforts to slow the growth of the backlog of pending cases. There was a 30 percent reduction in receipts within the first month of implementation and a 23 percent decrease from the prior year. . . . In FY 2018, USCIS completed 98,000 screenings for credible fear (Form I-870, Record of Determination/Credible Fear Worksheet) and 11,000 screenings for reasonable fear (Form I-899 Reasonable Fear Work Sheet). . . . The number of credible fear screenings completed increased by 22 percent between FY 2017 and FY 2018, and increased by 104 percent from FY 2014 to FY 2018. Reasonable fear (I-899) screenings completed were less variable, increasing by 10 percent between FY 2017 and FY 2018, and 13 percent from FY 2014 to FY 2018”, and “[t]he number of total I-821D [‘Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)’] requests processed in FY 2018 reached 332,500, a 30 percent decrease from the previous fiscal year. A decline in I-821D requests processed is attributable to the termination of DACA in September 2017 under which USCIS is no longer accepting initial filings for deferred action. . . . Only those individuals already granted deferred action are eligible to renew their deferment. DACA initial requests processed in FY 2018 reached approximately 33,000 (a 42 percent decline from FY 2017) while the number of DACA renewal requests processed dropped from 419,000 in FY 2017 to about 300,000 in FY 2018, a 28 percent decrease”.
The idea to bring back the practice of publishing an annual report came from a USCIS employee at an internal agency town hall.
While immigration policies have a direct individual impact on each immigrant family, it is useful to review aggregate statistical immigration data, including to better understand how USCIS is working. The Law Offices of Kameli and Associates has years of experience in successfully representing immigrants in various matters before USCIS. If you need help on any immigration issue before USCIS, please contact the Law Offices of Kameli and Associates, at email@example.com or 312-233-1000, for assistance.