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Report: Record 10 million immigration cases completed in fiscal 2023

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The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) completed an unprecedented 10 million immigration cases in fiscal 2023, reducing its backlog for the first time in over a decade, according to a newly released end of fiscal year 2023 report.

“We’ve completed a record number of cases, responded to emerging crises around the globe with essential humanitarian relief, and applied innovative solutions to improve customer experience and reduce backlogs,” USCIS Director Ur M. Jaddou said of the milestone.

In fiscal 2023, USCIS received 10.9 million filings and completed more than 10 million pending cases, both record-breaking numbers, reducing its overall backlog by 15%, according to the report.

USCIS staff also administered the Oath of Allegiance to more than 878,500 new U.S. citizens, including 12,000 members of the U.S. military, last fiscal year.

This effectively eliminated a previous backlog of naturalization applications, it said. Its median processing time for naturalization applicants dropped from 10.5 months to 6.1 months by the end of the fiscal year.

Working with the Department of State, USCIS staff issued more than 192,000 employment-based immigrant visas, increased the maximum validity period of employment authorization documents to five years, “clarified eligibility” for a range of immigration services, and proposed a new rule “to strengthen worker protections and the integrity of the H-2 temporary worker program.”

It also eliminated its biometrics fee and appointment requirement for applicants and updated its interpretation of the Child Status Protection Act “to prevent many child beneficiaries of noncitizen workers from ‘aging out’ of child status, allowing them to seek permanent residence along with their parents.”

In response to what USCIS says is “the greatest displacement of people since World War II,” its staff interviewed more than 100,000 refugee applicants, more than double the number completed in fiscal 2022, according to the report. Among them, 60,000 were admitted into the country for “resettlement as refugees.”

The agency also completed more than 52,000 asylum cases, including prioritizing processing Afghan asylum cases.

Of the nearly 4 million illegal border crossers reported in fiscal 2023, USCIS staff completed a record-breaking 146,000 credible fear and reasonable fear screenings of illegal foreign nationals arriving at the border.

It also “continued to support Biden-Harris Administration efforts to establish lawful pathways that allow for the safe and orderly processing of individuals into the United States,” in line with policies created by Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, for which he was sued multiple times and impeached.

Many of the parole programs USCIS implemented were identified by the U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security as illegal and used as evidence to impeach Mayorkas.

One includes USCIS implementing new processes for Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans, and Venezuelans. Under Mayorkas, up to 30,000 per country are allowed into the U.S. per month when they would otherwise not qualify for entry according to laws established by Congress.

Another is USCIS creating a new family reunification process for Colombian, Salvadoran, Guatemalan and Honduran citizens, a program states that sued argue does not have the capability to vet actual family members and is illegal. Mayorkas was the first to open offices overseas to facilitate entry into the U.S. through this program, The Center Square reported.

“USCIS is also a key partner in the Safe Mobility Office initiative, one of the many ways the United States is facilitating access to safe and lawful pathways in partner countries in Central and South America,” the report states. It also expanded eligibility criteria for the Central American Minors Program, another “illegal parole program” identified by the House Committee on Homeland Security and one Florida and other states sued to stop.

USCIS also continued supporting the Uniting for Ukraine process, which House Republicans argue is illegal. Through the end of fiscal 2023, more than 150,000 Ukrainian nationals and their immediate family members entered the U.S. through the program, USCIS says.

In fiscal 2024, USCIS is expediting processing times for illegal foreign nationals using the CBP One mobile app, proposed new rules to modernize the H-1B application process, and called on Congress to allocate additional funding to hire more personnel to expedite processing of illegal foreign nationals into the country.

USCIS is building “capacity for processing historically high referrals for protection screenings at the southern border,” it says, with a targeted refugee adjudication goal of admitting 125,000 this fiscal year.

USCIS is also expanding its international footprint outside the U.S. and increasing its refugee processing through its Safe Mobility Office initiative. It says it’s “on track to admit between 35,000 and 50,000 refugees from the Western Hemisphere this fiscal year, the largest number from this region in history.”