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 you with and how you can submit a request for case assistance with our office. We are an independent office in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and are not part of USCIS.
Before you request assistance from us, seek help from USCIS first. We can bring issues to USCIS’ attention and recommend solutions, but only USCIS can approve or deny pending applications or petitions, including expedite requests.
Submit a DHS Form 7001, Request for Case Assistance, online
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.
- 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.
Please try to resolve your issues with USCIS first before submitting a request with our office.
- Start by checking the status of your case:
- Check your case status online to see USCIS’ last action on your case.
- Go to USCIS’ Check Case Processing Times page to see if your case is outside of published processing times for the USCIS office that has jurisdiction over your case and when you can submit a service request online.
- On the page, select your form and the appropriate field office or service center. Select the “Get Processing Time” button. Once the page updates, you will see "When can I ask about my case?" at the bottom of the page. Enter in your receipt date and the page will tell you if your case is processing normally (within processing times) or if you can submit a service request online.
- If you cannot find your form in the drop-down menu on the Check Case Processing Times page, the default processing time is six months.
- See USCIS' Frequently Asked Questions About Processing Times page for more information.
- If you have a Form I-765 that is based on another pending form, please see Question 1 in the Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) section of our FAQ page as well.
- 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.
- Submit a request through your USCIS online account at https://myaccount.uscis.gov/.
- Submit a request through the Ask Emma chat feature on www.uscis.gov.
- Call the USCIS Contact Center at 1-800-375-5283.
- We have a USCIS Contact Center Tip Sheet on how to reach out to the USCIS Contact Center most effectively.
- If more than 30 business days have passed since your package was delivered to a USCIS lockbox 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 FAQ page for a list of USCIS emails and mailing addresses to contact about your case.
If you have tried the USCIS customer service options listed above but still need help, you can submit a case assistance request to the CIS Ombudsman in one of three ways:
- Online: We strongly prefer that you submit DHS Form 7001, Request for Case Assistance online because it allows us to process your request more efficiently.
- See our tip sheet for more information on the best way to complete the form.
- If you are an applicant or self-petitioner for (or were previously granted) T, U, VAWA, asylee, or refugee status, you will need to include your "wet ink" (non-electronic) signature. You can do so by printing the paper form, signing the consent part of DHS Form 7001 (section 9), scanning it, and uploading it as a supporting document with your online submission.
- Email: If you are unable to submit the DHS Form 7001 online or prefer to email your request, you can download the DHS Form 7001 with instructions and email the completed and signed form with supporting documentation to email@example.com.
- If you email the form to us, it can take two to three weeks to manually enter your information into our system. We do not review your request before it is entered into our system.
- 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
- If you mail a paper DHS Form 7001 to us, it can take two to three weeks to receive and manually enter your information into our system (even for express mail). We do not review your request before it is entered into our system.
Please remember to include 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.
NOTE: Filing a case assistance request with the CIS Ombudsman does not change your appeal and motion rights or extend any USCIS deadlines you may face.
- Individuals, employers, attorneys, and accredited representatives may submit a request. If you are an attorney or accredited representative, you need to include a copy of the Form G-28, Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Accredited Representative, on file with USCIS for the form you are seeking assistance with.
- Family members, congressional caseworkers, and others may help prepare the case assistance request. 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 5 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 with your CIS Ombudsman request number in the subject line and a copy of the information you submitted (unless you requested that we communicate with you only by mail). 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 by email or mail, you will receive the CIS Ombudsman request number by email or mail after we enter the information into our system. This can take two to three weeks (even for express mail). We will not review your request before it is entered 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 petitioning for (or were previously granted) T, U, VAWA, asylee, 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 contact us unless your situation has changed. For example, email us at email@example.com if:
- Your case is resolved by USCIS after you submit a case assistance request (include your CIS Ombudsman request number);
- Your address changes. You must also change your address with USCIS. You will need the receipt numbers for all pending applications or petitions; or
- You have a new attorney representing you for the specific form listed on your DHS Form 7001.