Joe Biden’s nominee to lead United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), said she is targeting a huge reduction of the ever-increasing US visa backlog. Appearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee during a nomination meeting recently, Ur Jaddou, vowed to ‘reduce US visa backlogs and ensure the long-term solvency of the beleaguered USCIS’.
In the wake of an uncertain future amid the coronavirus pandemic, which left USCIS on the brink of collapse amid funding woes, Jaddou said she would focus on restoring the federal agency to a firmer footing. USCIS sought a $1.2 billion bailout from the US Senate in 2020 to stay afloat.
USCIS is funded entirely by fees from US visa and immigration applications. However, with coronavirus restricting travel and former US President Donald Trump closing America’s borders, fees from visa and immigration applications quickly dried up.
Crippling visa backlogs
Jaddou said that putting USCIS on a firmer financial footing and clearing crippling US visa backlogs, which have left hundreds of thousands of migrants in limbo, are her top priorities.
Speaking at the nomination meeting, she said: “My most immediate responsibilities, if confirmed, will be to return the agency to firm solvency, resolve dramatically increasing processing times and backlogs, and utilize 21st-century tools.”
Ms Jaddou is the daughter of Iraqi and Mexican immigrants and offers more than 20 years of experience in immigration policy, law and administration, according to a personal profile shared by the White House.
She also served as chief counsel at USCIS from June 2014 to January 2017 and is a graduate of Stanford and the UCLA School of Law.
Experience and existing relationships
During her nomination hearing, Jaddou made the point that her experience and existing relationships with people within USCIS gave her a ‘head start’ if she were to fill the USCIS leadership role.
She stressed that her goal would be to ‘ensure that the hardworking and dedicated men and women at USCIS have the resources support and leadership they need to do their jobs without undue difficulty.’
Jaddou’s comments come following a recent USCIS announcement that it plans to improve its US immigration services, despite offering no explanation on how it plans to pay for any improvements.
USCIS improvement plans
The agency reportedly sent a 14-page document to the White House on April 21, which outlines plans to reduce processing times for US citizenship, visa and immigration applications.
The US Department of State, which oversees USCIS, said that many of the changes proposed by the agency can be done without congressional approval. An overall consensus on US immigration in Congress has proven to be elusive for years.
In late April, Workpermit.com reported that US visa processing concerns were continuing to mount amid the continued closure of US embassies and consulates worldwide.
At the time, an official at the US Department of State said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in profound reductions in the department’s visa processing capacity. Additionally, a range of presidential proclamations restricting travel in response to the pandemic have resulted in further constraints on US visa issuances worldwide.”
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