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The Office of the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman

The Office of the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman (CIS Ombudsman) is dedicated to improving the quality of citizenship and immigration services delivered to the public by providing individual case assistance, identifying systemic issues, and making recommendations to improve the administration of immigration benefits by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Phyllis Coven serves as the seventh CIS Ombudsman and Nathan Stiefel is the Deputy CIS Ombudsman.

A Message from the New CIS Ombudsman:

As USCIS is facing unprecedented case processing backlogs, our office is also experiencing a record number of requests for case assistance. We have a plan in place to respond to all pending requests by the end of September 2021. Eliminating our backlog and scaling up the office's capacity to serve customers are my top priorities. I believe that setting clear expectations as to when our office can and cannot provide assistance will enable us to serve the public more efficiently.

Please note: The CIS Ombudsman’s Office does not have authority to adjudicate a case, or alter a decision made by USCIS, unless the decision is based on a clearly erroneous application of law or facts.

We normally cannot intervene with USCIS on your behalf if your case is still within processing times or if USCIS has denied your expedite request.

We cannot provide legal advice.

Help us help you! Before filing a request for case assistance with the CIS Ombudsman:

  • Check USCIS processing times to verify that your case is outside of the published processing times. After entering Form Type and Field Office, click on "Get Processing Time," then scroll down to "Receipt Date for a Case Inquiry." You may submit a request for case assistance with USCIS if your receipt date is more than 60 days past the "Receipt Date for Case Inquiry," or if there is no processing time listed for your form type on the USCIS website, but your case has been pending for more than 60 days.
  • Create a USCIS online account so you can communicate directly and electronically with USCIS. Even if you have filed on paper, you can link your case to your online account. This will allow you to see your case status and history.
  • Research the last recorded action on your case by using Case Status Online with your receipt number.
  • Take full advantage of the tremendous progress USCIS has made in developing online tools.

The CIS Ombudsman Can Help 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 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.


Last Published Date: November 24, 2021

The Office of the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman News & Updates RSS Icon

Jul 19

On July 16, 2021, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas held that the DACA policy “is illegal.”

Jun 30

The Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman (CIS Ombudsman) submitted to Congress its Annual Report, which provides recommendations for addressing issues encountered by individuals and employers applying for immigration benefits with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Mar 12

Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas is designating Burma for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 18 months. This new designation of Burma for TPS enables Burmese nationals (and individuals without nationality who last habitually resided in Burma) currently residing in the United States to file initial applications for TPS, so long as they meet eligibility requirements.

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