Why Are New Immigration Cases Approved Faster Than My Case?

Have you ever wondered why new immigration cases are being approved faster than older pending cases? If so, then you may be interested to learn why this is happening, as well as how the review process is conducted by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and what you can do if you are facing this situation.

If you would like to know more about this topic, we invite you to watch our video.


Q: My case has been pending with USCIS for several months. I have recently learned that USCIS has been giving recently filed cases priority over older cases, why is that?

USCIS Review Process

To understand this issue, let’s first discuss how USCIS accepts and reviews cases once they are received by the agency.

After you submit your application including your forms and filing fees, the first thing USCIS will do is input the receipt of your application into their system and send a notice to you by mail confirming the date your materials were received and accepted as a complete filing. This receipt is known as the Notice of Action.

USCIS will create a new file and assign a case number to your application which will appear on your Notice of Action, which you can use to check the status of your application on the USCIS website and by telephone.

Your case will then be sorted and routed to the appropriate service center or field office that will oversee the evaluation of your application. The office that will be given jurisdiction over your case is determined by a number of factors including but not limited to, your case type, agency workloads, and the date of receipt.

The “Active” Review Process

After an office is assigned, the next step is for a USCIS officer to review your documents and supporting evidence to determine whether any information is missing from your case. This will require the officer to examine and evaluate the details of your application.

If the officer finds that any information is missing, he or she will issue a Request for Evidence (RFE) asking for you to provide the missing information or documentation to continue processing your application. The RFE will indicate the deadline by which you must respond.

USCIS will require most applicants to attend a biometrics appointment to collect their fingerprints. This will allow the officer to conduct background checks to ensure there are no criminal or inadmissibility issues in the applicant’s background.

Finally, the last step is attending an in-person interview at a USCIS field office if one is required for your specific case.

How long does the active review process take?

It may take anywhere from a few weeks, months, or even years for an immigration officer to complete the active review process for your application. The timeframe for review will depend on the complexity of your case, requests for evidence, and other external factors including agency workload.

Why does it take so long to receive a final decision?

During a recent immigration conference, the USCIS liaison revealed that it can take officers anywhere from fifteen minutes to several hours to process one case. When considering that service centers process thousands of applications daily, it becomes apparent how challenging it can be for officers to review cases on a timely basis. The complexity of an immigration application weighs heavily on the timeframe required to complete the final review process.

As a general matter, for cases that do not have complex issues officers will not spend more than thirty minutes reviewing each application.

Why are some new cases processed faster than older cases?

Turning to our original question there may be several reasons to explain why some new cases are being processed faster than older cases still pending with USCIS.

The first reason is that older cases are typically filed as paper applications by mail whereas many new applications are being filed online, making the review process much faster since new cases are stored in the cloud instead of being warehoused by USCIS.

Digitization Means a Faster Review Process

New cases arriving to USCIS are being inputted into their systems digitally regardless of whether they were filed by mail or online. Paper applications are digitally scanned into USCIS systems, while online filings are transmitted digitally making the review process much easier for officers.

This is why newer applications have been making their way to immigration officers much faster than older applications that are warehoused while waiting for review. Unlike new cases, older cases typically need to be physically transferred to a service center or field office to reach an officer’s attention.

By way of example, older cases that are issued a Request for Evidence may be sent back to a USCIS holding facility for storage while the officer waits for the applicant’s outstanding documentation to arrive by mail for further processing. This further illustrates why these older cases are taking longer to be adjudicated.


On the bright side, this phenomenon signals that USCIS is greatly improving its internal operations by storing applications in a digital medium. As a result, the adjudication of applications is made more efficient and final decisions are issued faster than ever before.

Contact Us Today. We hope that this information was helpful. If you have any further questions or would like to schedule a consultation, please text 619-483-4549 or call 619-819-9204

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