Washington, D.C.—Following a letter led by Congresswoman Deborah Ross (NC-02) and signed by 22 of her House colleagues last December, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) this week announced several measures to reduce the growing backlog of immigration applications, which was exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and has left millions of immigrants’ lives in limbo. Two of the changes announced by USCIS were specifically requested by Congresswoman Ross: expanding premium processing services to more types of applications and granting timely extensions of work permits so people can continue working as they wait for their renewal claims to be processed.

“Our immigration system cannot function when we’re facing a backlog of millions of cases and people are waiting up to two years to have their documents reviewed,” said Congresswoman Ross. “These commonsense measures are an important next step to streamline and improve efficiency at USCIS so that immigrants can see their cases resolved more quickly and move forward with their lives. We are a nation of immigrants, and our government must support those who want to move here to contribute to our nation.”

“USCIS remains committed to delivering timely and fair decisions to all we serve,” said USCIS Director Ur M. Jaddou. “Every application we adjudicate represents the hopes and dreams of immigrants and their families, as well as their critical immediate needs such as financial stability and humanitarian protection.”

Congresswoman Ross has been a fierce advocate for the tens of thousands of immigrant spouses – many of them highly educated women in the STEM fields – affected by this backlog. Many have been unable to work and provide for their families over the past year, causing unnecessary financial hardship for themselves and their loved ones. The two measures announced this week by USCIS are among the requests she has made to the agency with the goal of reducing the backlog that has hindered immigrant spouses from obtaining work visas and our immigration system from functioning properly.

For more information on the new USCIS efforts, click here.