You may experience a delay of your immigration case with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Unfortunately, this is common.
But if your immigration application is delayed longer than expected, it may cause financial, social and emotional losses for you. This can include loss of job, along with employment benefits, such as medical or life insurance, and social benefits like your driver’s license.
When there’s a delay in your immigration case, it’s normal to feel frustrated.
So, if you experience USCIS processing delays, these 7 steps can help remediate your situation.
1. Check Your Immigration Case Status
Once your immigration case is filed with USCIS, you must check it. You can check the application status at the USCIS case status online page. You can use this page to track its status, using the receipt number on your receipt notice.
If you sign up for a USCIS online account, you will be notified when there are updates about your immigration case.
2. Check Your Immigration Case Process Time
If you think your immigration case has been pending for too long, you may submit an inquiry to USCIS. But, before you can do that, you must find out if your pending immigration case with USCIS is outside the normal processing time.
USCIS publishes case process times on its Check Case Processing Times web page. There, it shows the case processing time for the form you filed. And it lets you know how long it takes for a decision to be made on your immigration case.
Refer to your receipt notice, select “Form,” “Form Category” and “Filed Office” or “Service Center,” which will lead you to the processing time for your immigration case.
3. Send an Immigration Case Inquiry
If you believe your immigration case has been pending longer than the processing time posted by USCIS, then you may send an online case inquiry to USCIS.
Go to the USCIS e-Request web page. Then, supply the information needed and send it. You will get an email from USCIS explaining what they are doing with your immigration case.
Although there’s no limitation on how many case inquiries you can submit, you can only send one case inquiry within a 30-day period.
On the e-Request web page, you may also submit an inquiry when you didn’t receive a notice or card and when you find a typographical error on your receipt notice.
4. Call USCIS About Your Immigration Case
If you want to speak to a USCIS officer about your immigration case, call the USCIS Contact Center at 800.375.5283 (TTY 800-767-1833) between 8AM ET and 8PM ET, Monday through Friday.
By making this call, you may talk to a Tier-1 officer (first level of live immigration assistance). This person can provide you general and non-specific immigration case information. The Tier-1 officer can decide whether your inquiry is either urgent or regular.
If your inquiry is determined urgent, you will get a call within 72 hours from a Tier-2 officer, who can answer specific questions about your immigration case. If it’s considered not urgent, you will receive a call within 30 business days.
5. Submit an Immigration Case Assistance Request to USCIS Ombudsman Office
The USCIS Ombudsman Office helps applicants and petitioners resolve issues, such as a delayed immigration case, with USCIS. As an independent office within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which isn’t part of USCIS, this office won’t make any decisions on your immigration case.
Instead, the USCIS Ombudsman Office can bring your issues to USCIS’s attention and make recommendations for your delayed immigration case. However, before you seek help from the Ombudsman Office, you must seek help first from USCIS.
To send a Case Assistant Request, you can submit online DHS Form 7001, Request for Case Assistant. You may also email the form to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail it to the Ombudsman Office.
6. Make a Congressional Inquiry About Your Immigration Case
Making a congressional inquiry is one way you can choose when your immigration case is pending outside its normal processing time. You may seek help with your immigration case from a Member of Congress—either a U.S. Senator or the member of the U.S. House of Representative from where you live.
Visit your Senator’s or Congressperson’s website to send an online inquiry. One of them will then inquire about your immigration case with USCIS. USCIS normally responds to this kind of inquiry within 30 days.
You can find your U.S. Senator at the U.S. Senator contact page or your Congressman at the U.S. House of Representatives homepage.
7. File Lawsuit Against USCIS
If your immigration case is unreasonably delayed, you may file a writ of mandamus in U.S. District Court. This is a federal lawsuit filing against USCIS. It requests the court to order USCIS to act on your immigration case.
Although this is a compelling request for USCIS to decide your immigration case, even if you’re successful in this lawsuit, it doesn’t guarantee you a favorable decision. Your case can be approved or denied. This is a complicated action. And you will need help from an experienced immigration attorney.
The immigration attorneys at System Soft Technologies supply legal counsel for its employees and their immigration matters. Learn more and connect with System Soft’s immigration attorneys for immigration assistance. Also, learn about USCIS Expands EB2 Premium Processing for Additional Forms.
About the Author: Seong Eun Cho
Seong is an In-house Immigration Attorney at System Soft. He handles all aspects of employment-based and family-based U.S. immigration legal matters. He currently focuses on non-immigrant visa petitions, PERM labor certification and the immigrant visa petition process for employees at System Soft. With extensive experience advising corporate clients, he also provides guidance about U.S. immigration laws and regulations.