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Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman

OMB 1601-0004 Case Assistance (DHS-7001)

The Office of the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman (Ombudsman’s Office) assists individuals and employers who are unable to resolve problems directly with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). To receive assistance with a problem regarding an application or petition pending at USCIS, you may submit this form to the Ombudsman’s Office after first trying to resolve the problem with USCIS. Please note the Ombudsman’s Office cannot provide legal advice. It is an independent office within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and is not part of USCIS.

Before You Submit a Request to the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman:

Before asking the Ombudsman’s Office for help with an application or petition, you first should try to resolve the problem with USCIS by using one of the following methods:

  • Contact USCIS for assistance at 1-800-375-5283.
  • Request assistance from USCIS using its e-Request tool.

Web Alert November 5, 2021

Priority Case Assistance

  • 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.

Temporary Suspension of Biometrics for H-4, L-2, and E Nonimmigrants

  • Effective May 17, 2021, USCIS will temporarily suspend the biometrics submission requirement for certain applicants filing Form I-539, Application To Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status, requesting an extension of stay in or change of status to H-4, L-2, and E derivative status. USCIS said it will adjudicate these Form I-539 applications based on biographic information and related background checks without capturing fingerprints and a photograph.
  • USCIS stated the suspension is expected to last through May 17, 2023.
  • Please note the CIS Ombudsman is unable to overturn an expedite request that USCIS has denied.

Applicants Filing Form I-765 for Optional Practical Training (OPT)

The CIS Ombudsman would like to remind customers that the option to file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, online is only available to F-1 nonimmigrants who fall into one of the following categories:

  • (c)(3)(A) – Pre-completion OPT;
  • (c)(3)(B) – Post-completion OPT; and
  • (c)(3)(C) – 24-month extension for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) students

If the applicant’s actual basis for employment authorization does not fall within one of the above-referenced categories, regardless of what is checked, USCIS has stated that, if filed on or after April 15, 2021, it will deny the application and the fee will not be refunded.

  • USCIS has extended certain flexibilities for foreign students (F-1 nonimmigrants) affected by delayed Form I-765 receipt notices. These flexibilities apply only to applications received by USCIS on or after Oct. 1, 2020, through May 1, 2021.
  • The CIS Ombudsman provided informal recommendations to USCIS regarding lockbox delays in issuing receipts for Forms I-765, communicating the significant adverse impact on nonimmigrant students. These delays were caused by various factors such as the COVID-19 pandemic; a rise in cases for certain benefit requests, which led to an increase in mail volume; a reduction in contract services; and delays at the U.S. Postal Service.
  • Please refer to the USCIS website for additional information related to OPT for F-1 students and instructions to file Form I-765.

Application Support Center (ASC) Appointments

  • If your ASC appointment was scheduled and then cancelled due to COVID-19, and was not rescheduled within 45 days, you may file a request for case assistance with the CIS Ombudsman.
  • If your ASC appointment was scheduled for a location other than the one closest to the address on file with USCIS at the time the appointment was set, and you are unable to travel to the designated location, and you have already asked USCIS to reschedule your appointment (but no action has been taken within 45 days from the request), you may file a request for case assistance with the CIS Ombudsman.
  • USCIS has indicated it will not expedite ASC appointments, except in extremely rare circumstances.

Processing Delays Related to Employment Authorization Documents (EADs)

  • If your Form I-539 (not the associated Form I-765) is pending beyond USCIS’ published processing times, you may submit a request for case assistance to the CIS Ombudsman.
  • 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 receipt date for a case inquiry to determine if that application is outside of the published processing times. Your Form I-765 will not be adjudicated before your Form I-539 (regardless of the processing times for Form I-765). The CIS Ombudsman has asked USCIS to look into the significant processing times discrepancy for Form I-539 applications pending at the California Service Center. The CIS Ombudsman understands 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 are continuing to work with USCIS on solutions to mitigate these problems.
  • If your Form I-821D (not the associated Form I-765) is pending beyond USCIS’ published processing times, you may submit a request for case assistance to the CIS Ombudsman. (The Form I-765 cannot be adjudicated prior to the Form I-821D.)
  • USCIS policy currently excludes applicants for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals from requesting expedited processing. However, if your Form I-821D is outside of the published processing times, the CIS Ombudsman will inquire with USCIS about the status of your pending application.

Forms I-485 Impacted by Visa Retrogression

  • The CIS Ombudsman reminds applicants and petitioners that USCIS does not consider immigrant visa retrogression alone to be a sufficient ground for expediting an application or petition. For example, USCIS will not generally expedite a pending application for adjustment of status when the reason for the request is an upcoming retrogression (backward movement) of priority dates as announced in the Department of State’s monthly Visa Bulletin. These dates determine when immigrant visa applicants are eligible to file an adjustment of status application and USCIS can approve pending adjustment of status applications. The movement of such dates is not among the criteria used by USCIS for consideration of an expedite. Those can be found here. Please note, the CIS Ombudsman cannot prioritize a request that does not comport to the USCIS expedite criteria, especially if it is pending within USCIS’ published processing times.

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Last Published Date: January 29, 2020
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