RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:
NPR's Jennifer Ludden reports.
JENNIFER LUDDEN: Maryland biotech researcher Shutri Mukond(ph) and her husband rushed together photos, documents and medical exams.
SHUTRI MUKOND: All of the doctor's offices were full because everybody was trying to get this done in two weeks.
LUDDEN: Their parents back in India scrambled to get notarized birth certificates and express-delivered them to the U.S.
MUKOND: Friends of ours had actually - they were in India, and when they heard this bulletin, they cut short their trip and they came back because you have to be personally here to apply.
LUDDEN: Muzaffar Chishti of the Migration Policy Institute says while the immigration agency issues visas, the State Department tracks when slots come open.
MUZAFFAR CHISHTI: They are determined by a complex calculation of demands from all over the world, by the number of applications being submitted for adjustment, and by the rate of historical rate or demands of all these numbers.
LUDDEN: Before those could arrive, Crystal Williams of the American Immigration Lawyers Association says something really strange happened at the Immigration Agency.
CRYSTAL WILLIAMS: Somehow, in the course of those two or three weeks, the USCIS managed to somehow mysteriously adjudicate 60,000 applications. I have never seen that agency adjudicate 60,000 anything in the course of a few weeks.
LUDDEN: In an unusual move, employees were even called in to work weekends. And then, of course, the agency said its quota was reached. But now, adding to the confusion and anger, Williams says it appears the agency took shortcuts with those 60,000 applications just to reserve all the slots.
WILLIAMS: People who work for this agency are telling us I haven't adjudicated all these applications. I'm still waiting for a security clearance.
LUDDEN: Chicago lawyer Ira Azulay has already filed one. He says this mix-up is ironic coming on the heels of a national debate over illegal immigration.
IRA AZULAY: The sad message of a system like this is that you're not in a better position if you follow the rules. And here you've got tons of people doing it the right way and this is what we give them. Frankly, it's embarrassing.
LUDDEN: Jennifer Ludden, NPR News, Washington.