US flag   Official website of the Department of Homeland Security

CIS Ombudsman Updates


Unused Family-Based Visas

During FY 2009 and FY 2010, usage of family-based visas has been exceptionally low, especially among spouses and children of green card holders (the F-2A preference category). In FY 2009, approximately 10,000 family-based visas were unused and, by statute, were reallocated for use by employment-based immigrants in FY 2010.

Given FY 2009 underutilization of family-based visas, the CIS Ombudsman has worked alongside United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the Department of State (DOS) to monitor family-based visa usage in FY 2010. To enable more family-based visa applicants to become eligible for final processing, the Visa Bulletin cut-off dates have been accelerating significantly. Despite the fact that more family members are becoming eligible, demand for family-based visas remains weak. While efforts are underway to facilitate maximum utilization, a significant number of family-based visas may again go unused in FY 2010.

Rapid Visa Bulletin Movement

To illustrate this rapid movement it is helpful to compare select June 2009 and June 2010 cut-off dates from the DOS Visa Bulletins.

To be added to the DOS Visa Bulletin e-mail subscription list send an e-mail to listserv@calist.state.gov and include in your message:
Subscribe to Visa-Bulletin, [insert First and Last Name].

Cut-Off Dates and Processing Differences for Applicants Overseas and Applicants Residing in the U.S.

Advance Notice is Provided to Overseas Applicants

In both family-based and employment-based immigrant visa cases involving beneficiaries who reside overseas, DOS sends customers advance notifications when further processing can begin based on the movement of Visa Bulletin cut-off dates. This notice is sent to the address on file with DOS at the time.

Advance Notice is Not Provided to Applicants Residing in the United States

Unlike DOS, USCIS does not send advance notification prompting further action by the applicant. Rather, individuals must monitor the Visa Bulletin to determine when they may file Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status) for a green card. Generally, Form I-485 may be filed during the month in which the Visa Bulletin is current for the related visa category and country of chargeability. Where a priority date is listed, the applicants priority date must be earlier than the cut-off date listed.

Pending I-130s and Changes of Address Alert

USCIS has been utilizing excess capacity and resources to review and adjudicate hundreds of thousands of pending Forms I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative). By December 31, 2010, USCIS expects to adjudicate 750,000 such petitions.

In some cases, USCIS may generate Requests for Evidence (RFEs) for these petitions. Petitioners who have failed to notify USCIS of mailing address changes risk not receiving such RFEs, which can lead to the unintentional abandonment of their petitions. Such abandonments can lead to serious consequences specifically, the loss of priority dates that may have been established many years earlier.

The Ombudsman encourages all petitioners to promptly notify USCIS of mailing address changes by completing specific change of address requirements.

Note: Non-U.S. citizens with a pending application or petition before USCIS must also file a Form AR-11 (Change of Address) before they may change their address online.

Back To Top


Immigration Information and Resources Available in Response to Haiti Earthquake

The U.S. government is working cooperatively to share information and resources as part of the ongoing response efforts to the devastating earthquake in Haiti. If you are seeking additional information, review the following resources.

Information provided by USCIS and the Department of State:

How Can the CIS Ombudsman Help?

Are you waiting for a decision on your Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization)? Has it been at least 90 days since you filed? The CIS Ombudsman may be able to help.
Do you have an application pending with USCIS that is NOT for Haitian national Temporary Protected Status (TPS)? Have you used the resources referenced above but you are still having difficulties resolving your immigration issue? The CIS Ombudsman may be able to help.

Please submit your inquiry with details of your case to cisombudsman@dhs.gov along with:

  • DHS Form 7001 (PDF, 8 pages - 217 KB)
  • A copy of your paperwork submitted to USCIS
  • Any correspondence you may have received from USCIS concerning your case
  • Receipt numbers for any pending or approved applications or petitions you may have with USCIS
  • Any other evidence that is pertinent to your case

We will look into your case and review how we may be of assistance.

Back To Top


Pending Derivative Form I-485s Due to File Separation Updated 11/6/2009

Do you know of a situation where USCIS approved the Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status) for a principal applicant, but the derivative family members' (spouse or minor children) Form I-485 applications remain pending? While in some cases this may be due to missing evidence, security clearance difficulties, or some other legitimate reason, the file may just be separated from the principal's.

If a family member's derivative adjustment of status application has been pending in excess of 30 days from the approval date of the principal applicant's Form I-485, please submit to cisombudsman.publicaffairs@dhs.gov:

  • DHS Form 7001
  • A copy of the principal applicant's Form I-485 approval notice,
  • A copy of the Form I-485 receipt notice for the derivative,
  • A copy of the approved immigrant visa petition notice (if employment-based), and
  • Any other evidence that is pertinent to the case.

In your email, please note in the subject line: "Unapproved Derivative I-485."

We will look into your case and review how we may be of assistance.

Back To Top


AC21 Issues: Did USCIS Immediately Deny Your Adjustment of Status Application Following a Change of Employment?

The Ombudsman has received inquiries noting that USCIS is not issuing Notices of  Intent to Deny following a change of jobs, as required by the American Competitiveness in the 21st Century Act (AC21) and USCIS policy guidance, but instead is immediately denying pending Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status) applications.  Does this apply to you?

If a foreign national is:  (1) the beneficiary of an approved Form I-140 (Petition for Immigrant Worker); and (2) has a Form I-485 pending for 180 days or more, s/he is eligible to change to a same or similar position.  If the underlying, approved Form I-140 is withdrawn, and no evidence of a new qualifying offer of employment was submitted, then, USCIS must issue a Notice of Intent to Deny the pending Form I-485.

However, the Ombudsman understands that USCIS may deny the Form I-485 in cases of portability (the ability to change jobs) before first issuing a Notice of Intent to Deny in certain limited circumstances.  These include, for example, where the beneficiary is ineligible for the benefits of the Form I-485 by statute, or the Form I-140 is withdrawn before the Form I-485 was pending for 180 days.

Do you think your case was erroneously denied?  Then please forward the CIS Ombudsman a case problem using DHS Form 7001 with the subject line “AC21 Evidence of Immediate Denial.”  Include a copy of your denial notice, detailed information as to the reasons for the immediate denial, and, if appropriate, evidence that you submitted a Motion to Reopen or Reconsider.  If we consider your case to be an erroneous denial, we will forward it directly to USCIS for further review.

Below are some links to further clarify USCIS processing of these cases:

Back To Top


2007 Summer Surge A Year Later: Employment Authorization Document (EAD) Processing Delays

Pursuant to 8 CFR § 274a.13, USCIS must adjudicate EAD applications within 90 days from the date of USCIS receipt of the application.

The CIS Ombudsman has been receiving numerous inquiries from customers about EAD applications pending more than 90 days.  Do you have this concern?  Then, see our suggestions below:

Step 1: Call USCIS National Customer Service Center (NCSC) at 1-(800) 375-5283 and record the time/date of the call and the name/number of the customer service representative:

  • Explain to the customer service representative that your EAD has been pending more than 90 days and ask for a “service request.” You should receive a response to your service request within a week.

OR

  • Ask the customer service representative to request an interim card for you.  You should receive an EAD or response within a week.

Step 2: If you choose to visit a local USCIS office, schedule an INFOPASS appointment to visit that office on www.infopass.uscis.gov. At the appointment, ask to apply for an interim EAD. Note that USCIS local offices no longer issue interim EADs. The local office can review your case and determine eligibility. The local office will forward your request to the USCIS service centers. You should receive an EAD or response within a week.

Step 3: If you have tried both Step 1 and Step 2 and have still not received your EAD or an interim card, please email our office at cisombudsman.publicaffairs@dhs.gov with the details of your efforts.  Please include the date and time of your call to the NCSC and the name of the customer service representative.  If you visited a USCIS office, please provide that information. We will look into your case and review how we may be of assistance.   

For all other case inquiries, please submit DHS Form 7001 to our office.

Back To Top

Back to Top