The Bush administration said Thursday it had reduced the backlog of immigrants waiting for citizenship, permanent residency and other benefits to 1.5 million. But a big chunk of the decline can be attributed to changes in what is counted in the backlog.
The administration first cut the backlog from about 6 million to less than 4 million by only counting cases that take longer than the six-month standard set by US President George W. Bush.
Then in July, the administration stopped counting applications for permanent residency for children and siblings of US citizens and for spouses and children of legal residents.
That eliminated about 1.1 million applications from the count.
The total number of applications pending was 4.8 million at the end of last month.
Citizens and legal residents must wait from 2 to 22 years to bring family members to the country.
On average nationally, applications are taking about 11 months to be processed, compared to more than a year last fiscal year.