With the current USCIS backlog the way that it has been since 2020, you might be wondering what the processing time will be for your EB-2 National Interest Waiver case. In the past the processing time for the EB-2 NIW was five to nine months, but things have changed, just as life as we know it is drastically different.
If you are a curious person, you might also ponder how the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service estimates what the case processing time will be. Although this knowledge will not likely make the processing time faster, at least you will be aware of how this estimate is determined.
History of USCIS Case Processing Time Estimation
USCIS has changed the way that they calculate average case handling timelines for some types of cases, including the EB2 NIW.
The Old Way
From 2009 through 2017, USCIS would use the “cycle time” method for all cases. They would take into account the entire group of receipt and pending case counts.
The way that USCIS explains it is that “Cycle time is the number of previous months of receipts it takes to equal the current month’s pending receipt volume.” They still use the cycle time method for determining average case processing times for some types of cases and forms, including the following:
The Updated Way
For purposes of the EB-2 NIW and subsequent adjustment of status, national interest waiver beneficiaries should be aware that in 2018 USCIS started using the “processing time” methodology.
For the Form I-140 that is mailed to USCIS with the EB2 NIW petition letter, as well as the I-485 (adjustment of status) and I-765 (work authorization/EAD), case processing times are calculated using the new method. That means that in a concurrent filing for an EB-2 NIW, only the Form I-131 for a travel document would be subject to the “cycle time” methodology for computing the processing time.
How is the EB-2 NIW case processing time calculated?
When it comes to estimating the processing time for the national interest waiver, the EB-2 NIW is subject to the “processing time” methodology. This method for calculating NIW processing time tends to be more precise as it uses more recent data to determine the date range.
The service provides an estimated time range for when the case should have been processed, as well as a receipt date for which a beneficiary can submit a case inquiry if they have not received notice from USCIS. The lower number in the time range is the period that it generally takes to process 50% of the cases; whereas, the higher number is the number of months that it takes USCIS to process 93% of that type of case.
Be sure to share your current status and plans with your attorney
If you are not self-petitioning for your EB-2 NIW immigrant visa, then you are likely working with an immigration lawyer in your area or virtually. It can be prudent to share your current status with your green card attorney at the beginning of your case, as well as when your status will expire.
That way you can plan around EB-2 NIW case processing times accordingly, so that you can maintain your status in the United States. If you do not have an immigration attorney yet, or if you have questions about the national interest waiver, contact us.