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 noncitizen. The beneficiary is the noncitizen for whom the petition is submitted by the employer or an individual.
Do you have any tips to make my call to the USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) Contact Center more effective?
The USCIS Contact Center made changes to reduce reliance on telephonic live assistance while promoting the use of online self-help tools and digital inquiry channels. To help our customers navigate these changes, the CIS Ombudsman posted a tip sheet on how to most effectively reach out to the USCIS Contact Center.
What are the most common case assistance issues?
In 2021, some of the most common issues have been processing delays, difficulties in obtaining appointments at a local USCIS office or Application Support Center, and file transfer delays.
How long should I wait before contacting the CIS Ombudsman 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 requestor has properly reached out to USCIS can be an Service Request Management Tool (SRMT) number. Also, it would be helpful for the applicant to provide their delivery and tracking information confirming delivery to USCIS. This enables the agency to track mail in their mailroom.
Who can prepare and submit a request for case assistance?
Individuals and employers, as well as attorneys and accredited representatives of record. 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 Designated School Official (DSO) is requesting assistance on behalf of a student, we must 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, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, and I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status). However, a beneficiary cannot file a Form DHS-7001, Request for Case Assistance, for a Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, 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.
How do I submit a request for case assistance?
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.
Not every circumstance that fits under one of the USCIS expedite criteria categories necessarily results in expedited processing. For example, if the expedite request relates to an application for employment authorization or student status, the need to obtain employment authorization or student status, standing alone, without any evidence of other compelling factors, does not warrant expedited treatment.
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?
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. Requests are reviewed for completeness, including proper consent, prior attempts to resolve with USCIS, and inclusion of necessary documentation.
The assigned Immigration Law Analyst will then contact the relevant USCIS field office, service center, or other office to resolve the inquiry. USCIS has 15 business days to respond to us. Once we complete an assessment of your inquiry, we will contact you with an update via email or U.S. mail.
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 in 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?
The applicant should contact USCIS first. An option could be to submit an e-Request. If the card never arrived, you may wish to contact USPS or check its website 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 green card, USCIS may issue an Alien Documentation Identification and Telecommunications (ADIT) stamp. For assistance with obtaining an ADIT stamp, you should visit USCIS' website 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 to obtain an ADIT Stamp.
What issues are eligible for case assistance?
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 Case Assistance Request page and follow the steps outlined under Seek Help from USCIS First.
- 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 or 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.
What if I am experiencing processing delays related to my EAD?
- If your Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, is based on a Form I-539 (even if it was not filed at the same time), you must first look at USCIS processing times to verify that the Form I-539 is outside of the published 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 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-539 (not the associated Form I-765) has been pending for at least 60 days beyond USCIS processing times, and you have not received a response or resolution from USCIS on your e-Request, you may submit a request for case assistance with our office.
- If your Form I-821D, Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, (not the associated Form I-765) has been pending 60 days beyond USCIS processing times, you may submit a request for case assistance. Please note, 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.