The Office of the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman (CIS Ombudsman) assists individuals and employers in resolving case processing problems with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). We examine the facts of each submission, review the relevant data systems, and analyze the applicable laws, regulations, policies and procedures to determine if our office can intervene. While the CIS Ombudsman can bring issues to USCIS’ attention and provide impartial recommendations to the agency on how to resolve problems, we do not adjudicate cases or have the authority to alter USCIS decisions.
Types of Cases We Can Assist With
- Cases past published processing times or with no published processing times, and your case has been pending for more than six months.
- Typographic errors in immigration documents.
- Cases where the beneficiary may “age-out” of eligibility for the requested immigration benefit.
- Applications and petitions that were improperly rejected by USCIS due to clear errors of fact or gross and obvious misapplication of the relevant law by USCIS.
- Certain cases involving U.S. military personnel and their families.
- Priority-2 Direct Access Program.
- Cases where an individual is in removal proceedings before the immigration court and has an application/petition pending before USCIS that may have a bearing on the outcome of removal proceedings.
- Systemic issues that should be subjected to higher level review.
- Lost files and/or file transfer problems.
- Mailing issues, including non-delivery of correspondence and/or immigration documents.
- Certain cases involving an emergency or a hardship that fall under USCIS expedite criteria.
With few exceptions the CIS Ombudsman cannot help if:
- Your case is within published processing times, unless there is a statutory or regulatory processing time requirement (e.g. Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant, for Special Immigrant Juveniles (SIJs); 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 you have not waited at least six months since filing.
- You are seeking to alter a decision 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.
- Communicate with anyone other than the applicant/petitioner or attorney about a case without written consent from the applicant or petitioner who signed the applicable form submitted to USCIS.
- Compel USCIS to take action on a pending application, petition, or request.
- Rectify actions resulting from bad information given by third parties (i.e., legal representatives or Designated School Officials).
Seek Help from USCIS First
Please contact USCIS first before submitting a request with our office:
Check Case Status Online for USCIS’ last action on your case.
Check USCIS processing times to verify that your case is outside of the published processing times. After selecting the appropriate Form Type and appropriate Field Office or Service Center, click on "Get Processing Time," then scroll down to "Receipt Date for a Case Inquiry." If your receipt date is before the "Receipt Date for a Case Inquiry," you may submit a request for assistance with USCIS.
Request assistance from USCIS using its e-Request tool to check on appointment accommodations, typographic errors, delayed delivery of documents, notices or cards by mail, or if a case is beyond the published processing times.
Alternatively, you may call the USCIS Contact Center at 1-800-375-5283. The CIS Ombudsman developed a tip sheet on how to most effectively reach out to the USCIS Contact Center.
Refugee Applicants: Please email USCIS directly at firstname.lastname@example.org from your registered email address to seek assistance. Refugee applicants may also request case status information from the Resettlement Support Center in your region.
Email the lockbox: email@example.com.
How to Submit a Case Assistance Request
If you have tried the USCIS Customer Service Tools and Resources listed above but still need help resolving a problem with an application or petition, you can submit a request for case assistance in one of three ways:
- Submit Form DHS-7001, Request for Case Assistance, online.
- If you are outside the United States or seeking immigration benefits under the VAWA, T or U programs, download and complete the Form DHS-7001 with Instructions and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- You may also mail your Form DHS-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
Who can prepare and submit a request for assistance?
- Individuals and employers, as well as attorneys and accredited representatives, may submit a request.
- Others, such as family members or congressional caseworkers, may help prepare the request for case assistance, but written consent from the applicant or petitioner must always be provided.
- Please note when entering the name of the person encountering difficulties with USCIS, you must list the name of the petitioner or applicant, and not the beneficiary, attorney, or accredited representative.
What happens after I submit a request to the CIS Ombudsman?
- Online submissions will receive an automated confirmation email that includes a CIS Ombudsman request number in the subject line. To ensure that you receive our email correspondence, please add email@example.com to your email contacts.
- If you submit a paper Form DHS-7001, you will receive a request number by email or mail after we input the information into our system.
- All requests for case assistance are reviewed to determine if it is appropriate for the CIS Ombudsman to inquire with USCIS. You will be notified if the CIS Ombudsman is unable to make an inquiry or provide assistance.
- We will contact you after our office receives a response from USCIS. There is no need to contact us unless your circumstances have changed. For example, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org 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 inform USCIS of a change of address. You will need the receipt number(s) for all pending applications or petitions.