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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. This surge has resulted in delays in our ability to respond timely to requests. Eliminating this backlog and scaling up our capacity to serve customers are our top priorities. 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 Ombudsman’s Office does not have authority to adjudicate a case, or alter a decision made by USCIS, unless the decision is based on the 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’s Office:

  • Check posted processing times. With very limited exceptions, we are not able to inquire with USCIS on your behalf if your case is within processing times.
  • 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 posted processing times or with no posted processing times.
  • 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. Please note you must maintain your mailing address up to date with USCIS.  For more information regarding change of address, please see USCIS’ webpage on “online change of address,” which allows the individual to complete both steps.
  • 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 improperly rejected by USCIS due to clear error of fact or misapplication of law.
  • Cases involving U.S. military personnel and their families.
  • 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 court case.


Last Published Date: July 14, 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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