Longer visa processing times at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration services have left many international students in Illinois searching for solutions. Graduates and students from some of the most prestigious institutions nationwide have been forced to delay summer job start dates, and some have missed out on educational or career opportunities because their visa applications have been delayed. Some say they have lost money on housing and transportation.
Processing times for green cards, visas and other immigration documents have climbed to record levels since 2017 according to a study by the American Immigration Lawyers Association. The AILA found that foreign visa processing times have increased by 46%, which causes problems for people who need new permissions to enter or stay in the country when they graduate. Under the terms of the Optional Practical Training program, international students are allowed to work in a job that is related to their field of study for as much as one year.
The problem is that these students are allowed to apply for OPT authorization within 90 days of graduation or the start date of the job. With visa processing times continuing to rise, many students do not have visa approval before their jobs are set to start. USCIS said that a backlog had been generated due to a projected processing time of five months. The agency said that it expects to return to faster processing times and has put a plan into action to address the delays.
International students and others in Illinois who are pursuing a visa might want to speak with a lawyer. A lawyer with experience practicing immigration law might be able to help by communicating with USCIS on the client’s behalf or by drafting and filing necessary immigration documents. A lawyer may be able to provide advice regarding the visa options available and the expected processing times.