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Immigration services still feeling the aftermath of COVID-19

YUMA, Ariz. (KYMA, KECY) - COVID-19 impacted many areas of life including immigration.

Boundless immigration, a firm founded by former President Barack Obama's previous policy director gathered data for a report on how COVID has impacted immigration over the last 24 months.

The COVID pandemic greatly affected the flow of immigrants to the United States with the processing of immigrant and work visas both within the country and abroad.

During the heat of COVID, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (U.S.C.I.S.) offices were closed and so was the Department of State.

Making it difficult for immigrants overseas who are trying to acquire a visa since the offices are dealing with the backlog from COVID shutdowns, have staffing issues or are just not open yet.

Boundless Immigration's immigrant analyst, Maggie Riley explained their data findings.

“A lot of them are really not conducting interviews yet. Getting out of India right now is extremely difficult because you have to be able to get that visa through a u.S. Consulate and if the consulates aren’t open or fully staffed you could end up waiting for huge amounts of time for that,” said Riley.

Riley also explained how and why their data found that the U.S. lost 47.5% of college-educated immigrants.

“The difficulty of traveling internationally. A lot of countries completely closed their borders. So I think a lot of people stayed put but in the meantime, if you’re a student with work authorization and you’re no longer attending your classes, there’s a chance that you’re status is gonna be jeopardized and you’re not gonna be allowed to work anymore," said Riley.

Tucson, Arizona ranks number five in Boundless Immigration’s Top 10 List for best cities to acquire your American citizenship.

“In Tucson, the wait times are substantially lower than they are in other u.S.C.I.S. Offices around the country. Maximum wait time is 13.8 months and the median is 7 1/2," said Riley.

Boundless Immigration’s key findings also show how the U.S. issued 1.2 million fewer than normal work visas from March 2020 through July 2021.

Arizona only has two U.S.C.I.S. offices, one in Tucson and another in phoenix.

With no office in Yuma, those seeking a visa are typically sent to the Imperial Valley where 80% of these cases are completed within 14 months.

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Jacqueline Aguilar

Jacqueline Aguilar was born and raised in Yuma, Arizona. The University of Arizona 2021 graduate started working her first professional newsroom job at KYMA in January 2022.
Contact Jacqueline at jacqueline.aguilar@kecytv.com.

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