USCIS is estimating it will take three years to clear the backlog of naturalization applications submitted just before the fee increase in July 2007, according to the Migration Policy Institute.
Following the summer surge, applications went from taking 6-7 months on average to process to 16-18 months.
USCIS attributes the surge in applications to both the fee increase and nationwide naturalization campaigns in the run-up to the presidential election. USCIS reports that between May-July 2007 it received 737,223 applications, 3.5 times more than the usual number of 207,536 received during the same period the previous year, according to the Migration Policy Institute.
USCIS says it has beefed up manpower to deal with the volume, but anticipates it will be 2010 before processing times will drop back to those pre-surge.
While discussing its efforts to address the surge, USCIS makes no mention of how it plans to combat the multi-year delay of thousands of naturalization applications due to pending FBI name checks.
Immigration attorneys nationwide have been forced to address these delays by filing a mandamus lawsuit in federal court against DHS/USCIS and the FBI to compel the government to finish processing the applications. For more information about mandamus lawsuits, please visit AILF (the American Immigration Law Foundation), which is tracking mandamus actions against the government for delays of both naturalization and adjustment of status (I-485) applications.