The Office of the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman (CIS Ombudsman) assists individuals and employers in resolving difficulties they are experiencing with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This page covers what we can and cannot help with and how you can submit a request for case assistance with our office.
Before you request assistance from us, seek help from USCIS first. Our office can bring issues to USCIS’ attention and recommend solutions, but only USCIS can approve or deny pending applications or petitions, including expedite requests. We are an independent office in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and are not part of USCIS.
The most common types of cases we can help with include:
- Non-receipt of USCIS notices or decisions, such as requests for evidence, appointment notices, or decisions even if USCIS systems indicate that it issued one, or instances where the U.S. Postal Service returned a card to USCIS as non-deliverable.
- Cases where the beneficiary may “age-out” of eligibility for the requested immigration benefit. See USCIS’ Child Status Protection Act (CSPA) webpage for additional information.
- Certain cases involving U.S. military personnel and their families.
- Applications and petitions that were improperly rejected by USCIS due to clear errors of fact or obvious misapplication of the relevant law by USCIS.
- Typographic errors in immigration documents.
- Cases where someone is in removal proceedings before the immigration court with a hearing scheduled within six months and has an application/petition pending before USCIS that could impact the outcome of removal proceedings.
- Lost files and/or file transfer problems between USCIS offices.
- Certain cases involving an emergency or a hardship that fall under USCIS expedite criteria.
- Priority-2 Direct Access Program.
- Systemic issues that should be given higher level review.
Case Assistance Notice
Due to the unprecedented processing delays at USCIS and the resulting volume of case assistance requests we have been receiving, it is taking us longer to assist when the only issue is the case is outside processing times. We will still assist with these types of requests, but it will take us some time before they are assigned to one of our immigration law analysts.
With few exceptions, we CANNOT help if:
- Your case is within published processing times unless there is a statutory or regulatory processing time requirement (such as Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant, for Special Immigrant Juveniles; Form N-400, Application for Naturalization; and Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, for L-1 petitions).
- There is no published processing time for the form type, and less than 6 months have passed since you filed your form with USCIS.
- You are seeking to change a decision made by USCIS unless the decision is based on a clear error.
- USCIS has denied an expedite request.
- You are seeking legal advice.
- You are seeking assistance with an issue that does not involve USCIS.
- It has been less than 30 calendar days since your congressional representative made an inquiry to USCIS.
We also CANNOT:
- Communicate with anyone other than the benefit requestor (the individual who signed the submitted form to USCIS) or the attorney without written consent from the benefit requestor. In addition, if you are applying, or applied, for T, U, VAWA, or refugee status and do not have an attorney or accredited representative, your address must match the address in USCIS systems; we can only communicate with you via U.S. postal mail to comply with the law and keep your case confidential.
- Urge USCIS to take action on a pending application, petition, or request.
- Fix actions resulting from bad information given by third parties, such as legal representatives or designated school officials (DSOs).
Please also read our Web Alerts page for recent updates that may affect you if you want to request case assistance from our office.
1. Start by checking the status of your case:
- Check your case status online to see USCIS’ last action on your case.
- Check whether your case is outside of published processing times. To do so, go to USCIS’ Check Case Processing Times page and select your form and the appropriate field office or service center. Select the “Get Processing Time” button. Once the page updates, you will see a chart with a column titled “Receipt date for a case inquiry.” If your receipt date is earlier than the “Receipt date for a case inquiry,” your case is outside of the published processing times.
2. Contact USCIS to try to resolve your issue. Here are some ways to do so:
- Submit an e-Request to USCIS if your case is beyond the published processing times. You can also submit an e-Request to check on appointment accommodations, typographic errors, or delayed delivery of documents, notices, or cards.
- You may also call the USCIS Contact Center at 1-800-375-5283. We have a USCIS Contact Center Tip Sheet on how to most effectively reach out to the USCIS Contact Center.
- If more than 30 business days have passed since your package was delivered to USCIS or since USCIS cashed your filing fee check(s) but you have not received a receipt notice, you may email the USCIS Lockbox at email@example.com. See our When to Contact a USCIS Lockbox Tip Sheet for more information.
- If you are a refugee applicant, email USCIS directly at firstname.lastname@example.org from your registered email address. You may also request case status information from the Resettlement Support Center in your region.
- If you have a T visa, U visa, or Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) case, please see our FAQs page for a list of USCIS emails and mailing addresses to contact about your case.
You can visit the USCIS Contact Us page for more information.
If you have tried the USCIS customer service options listed above but still need help, you can submit a request for case assistance to the CIS Ombudsman in one of three ways:
- Online: We recommend that you submit DHS Form 7001, Request for Case Assistance online. If you are an applicant for T, U, VAWA, or refugee status or were previously granted the status, you will need to provide your actual (“wet”) signature. You can do so by signing the consent part of the Form 7001, scanning it, and uploading it as a supporting document with your online submission.
- Email: You can download the DHS Form 7001 with Instructions and email the completed form to email@example.com. If you are an applicant for T, U, VAWA, or refugee status or were previously granted the status, you may also email your completed form to us with your actual signature. If you are outside the United States and unable to access our online case assistance portal, you can email the completed form to us.
- Mail: You may also mail your DHS Form 7001 and supporting documents to:
Office of the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman
Department of Homeland Security
ATTN: Case Assistance
Mail Stop 0180
Washington, D.C. 20528
Please remember to submit supporting documentation with your case assistance request. For example, if you are requesting assistance with a USCIS error, submit an explanation and documentation to show why you believe there is an error. Also, please be mindful that filing a request for case assistance with the CIS Ombudsman does not protect your appeal and motion rights or extend any USCIS deadlines you may face.
Who can prepare and submit a request for case assistance?
- Individuals, employers, attorneys, and accredited representatives may submit a request. If you are an attorney or accredited representative, you need to include a Form G-28, Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Accredited Representative, for the representative registered with USCIS for the form you are seeking assistance on.
- Family members, congressional caseworkers, and others may help prepare the request for case assistance. However, you must include written consent from the applicant or petitioner.
Please note you must put the petitioner’s or applicant’s name as the person encountering difficulties with USCIS in Section 1 of the DHS Form 7001. Do not enter the beneficiary, attorney, or accredited representative.
If you submit your request online, you will automatically receive a confirmation email that includes your CIS Ombudsman request number in the subject line and a copy of the information you shared with us. To ensure that you receive our emails, please add firstname.lastname@example.org to your email contacts.
If you submit a paper DHS Form 7001, you will receive the CIS Ombudsman request number by email or U.S. mail after we enter the information into our system.
Some important things to note:
- We review all requests within two business days to identify issues and to prioritize cases where our intervention may be most effective.
- We will notify you when we contact USCIS about your case.
- We will contact you after our office receives a response from USCIS.
- If you are applying, or applied, for T, U, VAWA, or refugee status and do not have an attorney, your address must match the address in USCIS systems; we will only communicate with you via U.S. postal mail to comply with the law and keep your case confidential.
After you submit your request, you do not need to follow up with us unless your circumstances have changed. For example, email us at email@example.com if:
- Your case is resolved by USCIS after you submit a request for case assistance (include your CIS Ombudsman request number); or
- Your address changes. You must also change your address with USCIS. You will need the receipt numbers for all pending applications or petitions.