U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, joined a bipartisan group of 38 senators who have asked the director of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services to address extensive delays in processing legal citizenship applications for work authorization.
In a letter dated May 13 to L. Francis Cissna, director of immigration services, the bipartisan senate group expressed concern over a recent study done by the American Immigration Lawyers Association that showed significant delays in processing and renewing applications for employment authorization.
“The delays in employment authorization applications have led to disruptions in American businesses,” the letter reads. "… When an employee experiences an unexpected processing delay in applying for and renewing employment authorization it can destabilize a business and leave mission-critical roles unfilled.”
Melanie Baucom, press secretary for Crapo, confirmed their office has noticed the increase of delayed processing for both I-765 work authorization cards and I-485 permanent residency petitions.
"U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has the responsibility to efficiently and effectively administer the legal immigration system, and further delays cause negative impacts to our state and our communities," Crapo said in an email statement to the Idaho Press.
Crapo said he looks forward to a response to the letter and will continue to urge the department to carry out its mission efficiently.
According to the national citizenship office, it ranges from nine to 11.5 months for I-765 employment authorization at the National Benefits Center.
Processing time for an I-765 employment application at the Boise citizenship office ranges from four weeks to five months, and there's an 11 to 22 month wait for I-485 applications to become a citizen.
The senators asked for a response from the citizenship office outlining:
- What caused the administrative delays in processing applications and petitions
- How the U.S. Office of Citizenship and Immigration Services responded to the delays
- Efforts to expedite processing of applications for employment authorization
- Whether the agency needs congressional appropriations to update old technology systems that may be contributing to delays
Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina; John Cornyn, R-Texas; Susan Collins, R-Maine; and Democratic presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts; Cory Booker, D-New Jersey; Kirsten Gillibrand, D-New York; and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minnesota, all signed the letter.
Employment authorization and renewal and citizenship applications aren't the only applications facing delays. An Idaho Press story featuring refugees in Boise trying to bring their loved ones to the U.S. showed that I-730 Refugee/Asylee Relative petitions — applications for spouses and children to join them in the U.S. — have stalled. In March, the International Rescue Committee in Idaho had 40 pending applications, and only one refugee arrival in Boise since 2016.