Per the recent announcement made on September 4, 2021, USCIS will be extending the time that receipt notices can be used to show evidence of status from 18 months to 24 months for those individuals who timely filed their Forms I-751 and Form I-829.

At the face of it, this announcement sounds like it could be a relief for these applicants. Yet, further look into the implications of this decision reveals a host of more disconcerting consequences.

The I-751 form is the Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence. In this instance, the petitioner is an individual who is married to a US citizen for less than 2 years when they obtain their original Green Card.

When the original Green Card is granted,  it is only valid for two years and the condition must be removed in 2 years’ time by filing form I-751.

In light of the pandemic, petitions’ payment processing issues within USCIS, as well as the freeze on federal hiring mandate by the previous Administration, processing time for these applications is realistically much longer than 18 months. Thus, in actuality, today’s decision by the USCIS to extend the status of legal permanent residents waiting for removal of their conditions to 24 months is great.

But it is also a bittersweet reminder of how long the process is taking. The negative reception of this delay is complicated by the fact that scores of applicants have been placed in a limbo—an uncertainty stage concerning one of the most important decisions in their lives—approval of their permanent residency in the United States. What is more, this decision also robs applicants of the opportunity to become US citizens within statutorily allowable time – 3 years from the time they received their original green card.

Given the above facts, the notion that USCIS’s delays in adjudicating these cases is harming U,S, citizen families. For instance, spouses of US citizens with till pending I-751s could be faced with the major inconveniences such as not qualifying for well-paid government jobs, or other jobs that require US citizenship, that they would have already qualified for if their I-751 was approved.

Furthermore, the Real ID cannot be received unless legal permanent status is up to date. For those individuals whose 18-month notice has already passed, they would be unable to renew their driver licenses, obtain a Real ID, or even keep their jobs if they cannot show active green card.

Moreover, these individuals would be unable to receive unemployment benefits or child assistance payments. In the face of an ongoing pandemic, this surely qualifies as cruel and unusual punishment for such individuals and their U.S. citizen spouses.

It should be noted that while these individuals are not technically out of status in this time, they will be unable to prove their status if the extension expires. This does not necessarily put them at risk of deportation, but this does imply that they will be denied benefits and peaceful enjoyment of their lives—a promise that the US constitution makes to its residents.

The negative effects of the USCIS delays in adjudication are also effecting  international investors who filed I-829 applications and domestic economy. The I-829 form is the Petition by International Investors looking to move to the United States to Remove Condition on their Permanent Resident Status.

More specifically, I-829 applicants who already invested $1,000,000 and created 10 full-time, U.S. jobs must show that their investment is still supporting the U.S. businesses and the 10 U.S. jobs existed for a minimum of 2 years to qualify. Prolonging the approval process for these cases is not only inconvenient for the applicants but also detrimental for the US economy.

Many countries have recently implemented robust reduced-cost investor visas leading to permanent residency with much shorter wait for the benefit than that of the United States.

The fact that it takes over 7 years to obtain a permanent residency in the U.S. through investment, deters many investors from applying for these visas in the U.S.  As a result, the U.S. economy loses the opportunity to employ more of its citizens, and more than likely deters more international investors to apply due to prolonged delays in processing I-829 applicants.

The announcement by USCIS to extend the validity of the I-751 and I-829 receipt expention is a welcomed news to allow the applicants ability to show valid status in the U.S. but the delay is detrimental to the U.S. families and the U.S. economy as a whole!