Don’t Put Too Much Faith in USCIS Processing Time Info for TN Visa I-129 Petitions

As many are aware, USCIS provides processing time information for the immigration petitions pending at its various service centers. In theory, this information can be extremely helpful for planning immigration petition filings, or checking the status of a pending petition.

In practice, however, the processing information posted is frequently outdated and/or inaccurate. For example, today I received approval notices for two I-129 petitions requesting an extension of TN visa status for two individuals. These petitions were both filed with the Vermont Service Center on December 19, 2011. The approval notices indicate that the petitions were approved on January 12, 2012. These petitions then were adjudicated in about 24 days.

The Vermont Service Center’s processing time information listed for I-129 petitions requesting TN status was posted on USCIS’ website on November 14, 2011. However, the information listed is purportedly “as of September 30, 2011.” According to its chart, the last TN I-129 petition processed by the VSC on the date the web page was last updated was filed on May 29, 2011. All this data tells us, I believe, is that the VSC was processing TN I-129 petitions in about 4 months’ time – back in September 2011. For those of us filing petitions in January 2012 this is not very helpful information.

Given the uncertainly of processing times, and the not always accurate information posted by USCIS, I generally advise clients to expect to receive a decision on a TN I-129 petition in about 4-6 months. In fact, it was only last month that one of my TN extension petitions took this long to adjudicate. I suppose that the only way to obtain some measure of certainty on a TN I-129 petition is to request premium processing where USCIS must make a decision within 15 calendar days.