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How and When You Need to Contact USCIS

bigstockphoto_Passports_31148NOTICE: The information contained on this page site is intended to educate the general public and is not intended to provide legal advice. To ensure proper handling of your individual situation, please contact I.S. Law Firm.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is the United States government agency that oversees lawful immigration to the United States. Usually, when you file an immigration petition for yourself or someone else – be it a marriage-based or work-based petition, or petition for relative or fiancé, or citizenship application – you have to apply with the USCIS.

When USCIS receives your application or petition, it processes your case in the order received by application type to be fair to all customers. If you want to check on your case after filing, USCIS offers several services for you to follow up on your application or petition. There are also certain circumstances when you should affirmatively contact the USCIS, for example to notify of your new address.

Case Status Information

When your application is received by a USCIS Service Center or the National Benefits Center, USCIS mails you a receipt notice. The receipt notice has all of the important information you need about your case.

Checking Status Online

With your receipt number, you can check the status of your case at vwww.uscis.gov by typing your receipt number (usually found in the upper left corner of you receipt notice) in the CASE STATUS field on the upper left side of the website.

Processing Times: Applications are processed by visa preference category in the order they are received. Processing times are an estimate of how long it will take to process your case from start to finish. Each case is different; some cases may take longer than others to process. Processing times are updated monthly, and you can check processing times by visiting USCIS website. You can also estimate approximate wait time for your specific petition by going to Case Status Online, using your receipt number, and selecting the appropriate petition type and service center as indicated on your receipt notice.

You can register on USCIS website for automatic case status updates while USCIS processes your case.

Calling Customer Service

If you cannot find information on your pending case on the USCIS website, you can call Customer Service at 1-800-375-5283. You should have your receipt number or “A number” available when you call.

If your case appears on the USCIS website, but it has been pending for longer than expected, you can check on your case by calling Customer Service. Please remember that, while you can call Customer Service at any time while your case is being processed, USCIS will only research your case if it has been pending for more than 90 days beyond their current processing times.

If Customer Service is unable to find any current information on your case, they will send an electronic message to the local office that has your case. You should receive a response to your question within 30 days from the local office.

Scheduling Appointment

If Customer Service is unable to assist you with the information you need on a pending application, or you have a time-sensitive issue such as a personal emergency, you can schedule an InfoPass appointment for your local office to inquire about your case. To make an InfoPass appointment, go to www.infopass.uscis.gov. Please note that appointments may not be available for the specific time or date you might prefer.

USCIS Services

You can visit USCIS website at www.uscis.gov to:

• Change your address if you move and have a pending application;
• Obtain immigration forms and mailing instructions;
• Check the status of a pending application or petition;
• Find out current processing times for various applications/petitions;
• Obtain information on premium or accelerated processing;
• Read “How Do I…” customer guides;
• Read Guide to Naturalization and review naturalization exam information and citizenship study materials;
• Obtain information on immigration laws and regulations;
• Find general immigration information.

You can call Customer Service at 1-800-375-5283 to:

• If you absolutely cannot appear for a scheduled appointment;
• To change your address if you move and have a pending application;
• If you filed a Form I-130, Petition for an Alien Relative, as a permanent resident, and then became a U.S. citizen;
• If you mailed your application or petition more than 30 days ago to a Service Center or to National Benefits Center, and you have not yet received a receipt notice in the mail;
• If you find an error on the last notice, document, or certificate USCIS recently sent to you;
• To obtain immigration forms, if you do not have access to a computer and printer;
• If more than 30 days have passed since you received your Welcome Notice after becoming a permanent resident, and you have not yet received your Permanent Resident Card;
• If more than 75 days have passed since you filed Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, and there are no public advisories from USCIS (published on the USCIS website) that affect your case type;
• If Case Status Online says that your case has been approved or denied more than 14 days ago, and you have not yet received approval or denial notice;
• If you have a pending Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, and you need to change the names of the persons on the petition or the port of entry where they will be applying for their visa;
• If you want to request that original documents submitted with your case be returned to you.

(Hearing Impaired TDD Customer Service: 1-800-767-1833)

Premium Processing

If you want to pay for faster processing, you may be able to request Premium Processing Service. Premium Processing Service provides faster processing of certain employment-based petitions and applications. Specifically, USCIS provides 15-calendar-day processing if you wish to use this service. USCIS recognizes that circumstances can change; so this program is available even after you file. For more information about which forms are eligible for premium processing, you can see website or call customer service.

Exceptional Circumstances for Expedited Handling

USCIS recognizes that exceptional circumstances can require special handling of a case. All requests for expedited handling are reviewed case-by-case and, when circumstances warrant, are granted at the discretion of the USCIS Director. The criteria are as follows:

• Severe financial loss to company or individual;
• Extreme emergency situation;
• Humanitarian situation;
• Nonprofit status of requesting organization in furtherance of the cultural and social interests of the United States;
• Department of Defense National Interest Situation (Note: Request must come from an official U.S. Government entity and state that delay will be detrimental to the U.S. Government);
• Potential loss of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits;
• USCIS error;
• Compelling interest of USCIS.

If your case is at a local office at the time you need to make your emergency request, please go to the local office in person to make your request. Please be sure to take all supporting documentation with you. If your case is at one of USCIS Service Centers or the National Benefits Center, please call Customer Service at 1-800-3755283 to receive further instructions on where and how to send your request.

If You Move

If you are NOT a U.S. citizen, you must report any change of address to the USCIS. If you move and do not notify USCIS, you may be unable to receive important notifications and documents USCIS mails you.

If you have moved, you need to follow two different steps:

• Step 1: File a Form AR-11 online or by mail. This changes your address in USCIS master database.
• Step 2: If you have a pending case, you must also file a Change of Address online for your specific petition(s) or call National Customer Service Center at (800) 375-5283. This changes your address for any specific application(s) you have submitted.

If you have a pending case, you can perform both steps at once by calling customer service at 1-800-375-5283. However, if you do not currently have a pending case, you have to change your address by filing form AR-11, either online or by mail.

If you are a U.S. citizen and you have a pending immigration petition – for example, for your relative or fiancé, or if you are a joint sponsor for somebody else’s relative – you also need to update your address with USCIS online.

Attorneys at I.S. Law Firm help our clients with their immigration petitions every step of the way. To learn more about our services and for consultation, please contact us at (703) 527-1779 or via e-mail: law@islawfirm.com.

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