Listed below are a series of frequently asked questions to provide individuals and employers with information on current issues and how the CIS Ombudsman can help.
Who is considered a petitioner and a beneficiary?
The petitioner is defined as an employer or individual, U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident, who files a petition on behalf of a foreign national or relative. The beneficiary is the foreign national for whom the petition is submitted by the employer or an individual.
What are the most common case assistance issues?
In 2021, the three most common issues have been:
- Processing delays
- Facing an immediate adverse act
- Significant and unusual costs
How long should I wait before contacting the CIS Ombudsman’s Office about receipt delays and what proof is needed from USCIS to show that all other avenues have been exhausted?
USCIS’ most recent guidance is to contact them after 60 days, and if the issue can’t be resolved, then you can reach out to us. We adopted the 90-day policy to give USCIS more time to respond to you.
Proof needed to demonstrate the applicant has properly reached out to USCIS can be an SRMT number. Also, it will be helpful for the applicant to provide their delivery and tracking information confirming delivery to USCIS. That enables the agency to track mail in their mailroom.
Who may prepare and submit a request for case assistance?
Individuals and employers, as well as attorneys and accredited representatives. Others, such as family members or Congressional caseworkers, may help prepare the request for case assistance, but consent from the applicant or petitioner must always be provided in writing. For example, if a Designate School Officials (DOS) is requesting assistance on behalf of a student, we need to have the student’s consent in order to be able to provide case assistance.
Please note that a beneficiary can file a Form DHS-7001 depending on the Form type filed with USCIS (such a Form I-485 and I-539). However, a beneficiary cannot file a Form DHS-7001 for a Form I-130 petition without the petitioner’s consent.
If you are a petitioner with multiple beneficiaries, a separate Form DHS-7001 must be filed on behalf of each beneficiary experiencing difficulties with USCIS. Please note that a beneficiary cannot file the Form 7001.
How do I submit a request for case assistance?
After exhausting all remedies listed under Seek Help from USCIS First on the Submit a Request page, you may complete and submit the Case Assistance Form DHS-7001.
What if my case requires immediate action?
Customers must first request an expedite from USCIS using the criteria outlined in the USCIS Policy Manual. For expedite requests that are denied by USCIS, and determined not to be within the expedite criteria, the CIS Ombudsman may request priority case assistance in exceptional circumstances and with appropriate justification and supporting documentation.
USCIS does not offer expedited processing for deferred action, including Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). For more information about requests for consideration of DACA, please visit the USCIS website.
What happens after submitting a request for case assistance?
Supervisors conduct triage looking for urgent cases that meet USCIS expedite criteria. These cases are submitted to USCIS within 10 days.
Requests are reviewed for completeness, including proper consent, prior attempts to resolve with USCIS, and other necessary documentation.
The case is then assigned to an Immigration Law Analyst who will contact the relevant USCIS field office, service center, or other office to resolve the inquiry.
How long does it take to process a case assistance request?
We review all requests for case assistance within 7 business days. However, since we are currently experiencing a backlog, some reviews take longer to process. USCIS then has 15 business days to respond to us. Once we complete an assessment of your inquiry, we will contact you with an update.
What can we do if you have a complaint about poor treatment by immigration officers at interviews?
You can submit a Form DHS-7001 describing the poor treatment/customer service received. The CIS Ombudsman's Office is an office of last resort and requires customers to contact USCIS is an effort to resolve concerns, prior to seeking assistance from us. In addition, the public may report USCIS employee misconduct to the USCIS Employee Misconduct Webpage.
What should be done when an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) was not delivered or the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) lost the EAD card?
The petitioner should contact USCIS first. An option could be to submit an online inquiry e-Request - Non-Delivery of Card (uscis.gov). If there’s an error on the card, then the petitioner can reach out to us. If the card never arrived, the student may wish to contact the United States Postal Service (USPS) or Check USPS.com using the assigned tracking number to locate your document. However, if USCIS properly mailed your document to you at the address of record at the time of adjudication and your document was not returned to USCIS as undeliverable. You must file a new application, including the appropriate filing fee, in order to replace it. We would ask that you carefully read the instructions on the form before filing your new application.
What should I do if I looked online and found out my green card for the I-90 renewal was mailed months ago, but was never received?
Please try the following: (1) call the USCIS Contact Center at 1-800-375-5283, then (2) contact your local Post Office and ask them to initiate an investigation. The USPS will send you a letter explaining the results of the investigation. With that letter, we can reach out to USCIS and investigate on your behalf. However, please note that if your card was returned to USCIS as undeliverable, per its policy your document will be destroyed after 60 days.
To obtain additional information and explore USCIS’ Customer Service Tools and Resources, please visit USCIS Tools and Resources.
Please note you may register for “Informed Delivery” through the USPS to get previews of mail in transit. Please visit the USPS website for additional information.
If you need temporary evidence of your current immigration status while waiting to receive a replacement Legal Permanent Resident (LPR) card, USCIS may issue an Alien Documentation Identification and Telecommunications (ADIT) stamp. For assistance with obtaining an ADIT stamp, you should visit USCIS’ website at www.uscis.gov/contactcenter or call the USCIS Contact Center at 1-800-375-5283 or 1-800-767-1833 (TDD for the hearing impaired) to schedule an appointment with your local USCIS Field Office and obtain an ADIT Stamp.
What issues are eligible for case assistance?
Note: The CIS Ombudsman is an office of last resort for case assistance and we ask that you first attempt to resolve the issue with USCIS before submitting a request to our office. Visit the Submit a Request page and follow the steps outlined under Seek Help from USCIS First.
- Typographic errors in immigration documents.
- Lost files and/or file transfer problems.
- Mailing issues, including non-delivery of notices or action and/or completed immigration documents (e.g., Employment Authorization Cards, Permanent Resident Cards, etc.), except where USCIS properly mailed the notice or documents to the individual’s address on file and it was not returned; We strongly encourage you to update your address with USCIS to ensure you receive all correspondence and benefits in a timely manner and avoid possible delays related to your case. In addition, please note you may register for Information Delivery through the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) to get previews of mail in transit. Please visit Welcome/USPS for additional information.
- Cases involving an emergency or a hardship that fall under USCIS expedite criteria.
- Cases where the beneficiary may “age out” of eligibility for the requested immigration benefit.
- Applications and petitions that were improperly rejected or denied by USCIS due to clear error of fact or misapplication of law.
- Certain cases involving U.S. military personnel and their families (e.g., citizenship for military members and dependents, family-based survivor benefits for the immediate relatives, etc.).
- 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 the proceeding.
- Cases past published processing times or with no posted processing times.
- If more than 60 days have passed since the “case inquiry date” for your benefit request receipt date with USCIS, and you have contacted USCIS about the delay without satisfactory resolution, you may submit a request for case assistance to the CIS Ombudsman. You can find this information at USCIS’ Case Processing Times webpage.
- Processing Delays Related to Employment Authorization Documents (EADs)
- If your Form I-539 application (not the associated Form I-765 application) is pending at least 60 days beyond USCIS’ posted processing times, you may submit a request for case assistance.
- If your Form I-765 is based on a Form I-539 (even if it was not filed at the same time), you must first look at the Form I-539 case inquiry date on the USCIS Check Case Processing Times webpage to determine if that application is outside of the posted processing times. USCIS will not adjudicate the Form I-765 before your Form I-539 (regardless of the processing times for Form I-765). We have asked USCIS to look into the significant processing times’ discrepancy for Forms I-539 pending at the California Service Center, as well as increased processing times at other service centers. We understand that these delays cause many difficulties for applicants, not only regarding their work authorization, but also with driver’s licenses, health insurance, and the ability to travel. We continue to work with USCIS on solutions to mitigate these problems.
- If your Form I-821D (not the associated Form I-765 application) is pending 60 days beyond USCIS’ posted processing times, you may submit a request for case assistance. (USCIS will not adjudicate the Form I-765 before the Form I-821D.)
- You may qualify for a 180-day employment authorization auto-extension. EAD categories eligible for automatic extension are listed on USCIS’ webpage, Automatic Employment Authorization Document (EAD) Extension. See https://www.uscis.gov/working-in-the-united-states/information-for-employers-and-employees/automatic-employment-authorization-document-ead-extension.