The processing times at the California Service Center, below would be a good indicator which at the time of writing shows that a petition for an alien relative may take anywhere from 5 months to 3 years, depending on the category

Petitioners use the Form I-130 to file the petition with the specific Lockbox Facility designated for the petitioner’s place of residence. After assessing the petition for completeness (including the most updated form and correct fees) the Lock Box unit forwards the petition to the appropriate USCIS Center, including the National Benefits Center

The USCIS recently announced that the agency had “begun transferring some casework from the National Benefits Center to the Nebraska, Texas and California Service Centers to balance overall operational workload. The affected casework includes the I-130 Petition form.

See processing times at the National Benefits Center for certain petitions as of August 31, 2013.

The USCIS says it will send the petitioner a notice “listing the transfer date and where the case will be processed. The original receipt number will not change and – hopefully, the transfer will not further delay the processing of the transferred petition files.

110,000 Files Lost by USCIS in 2006

Sometime in July, 2006, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported that the USCIS lost track of 110,000 files. The loss was not reported until November 28 of the same year.

The main reason for the loss, according to the GAO is that the USCIS staff “neglected to update the GAO suggested that the “staffers…may not have received adequate training or supervision.”

According to the GAO report, USCIS manages over 55 million A-files, which must be available to adjudicators and other staffers in 4 service centers, 33 district offices, and 8 asylum offices.  In fiscal year 2005, the agency "adjudicated about 7.5 million applications," according to the report.  The GAO conducted its review from Aug. 2005 through Aug. 2006.

The National Immigration Law Center laments that the “USCIS's inability to keep precise track of the millions of A-files it manages is felt most acutely by individual immigrants, who as a result of the mismanagement of their files must endure delays and multiple fruitless contacts with USCIS staff -- and may even face being fired from their jobs or suffering other severe, life-disrupting consequences when USCIS fails to issue in a timely way  immigration benefits and documents for which applicants are eligible.”

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