How To Check Status of Green Card
The first few months after applying for a green card can be quite unsettling. This is the time when you will find yourself checking your mail, texts, and emails more frequently than usual. However, while it is totally understandable, there is no need to be nervous about your USCIS case status. There are different ways to check your case status online, as you are about to find out.
Green Card Status Checklist
Even before you proceed with the status check process for your application, you need to make sure you have some important documents required by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Whether you are checking the application by mail, phone, email, online, or in person, the USCIS officer on duty will most likely ask you to provide proof of your application, most likely the receipt number or case number. Here’s a look at these two numbers and how to locate them.
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Identifying The Green Card Receipt Number
The receipt number comes with each form you submit to the USCIS. Make sure you keep this number somewhere safe for reference whenever you wish to perform a status check. It usually comes in form of a unique code with three letters and 10 numbers.
Where To Find The Green Card Receipt Number
The green card receipt number is usually located in the notification letter, also known as Form I-797C or the Notice of Action. This form is usually sent out to your address when USCIS accepts your Form I-485, also known as the Application to Register Permanent Residence.
If there are dashes and spaces, do not include them when you enter your receipt number into the system. However, if it has special characters, you may include them if they are part of the receipt number.
Where To Find Your Green Card Case Number
Just like the receipt number, the case number follows the same format; three letters followed by 10 numbers. Typically, the case number is sent out to the provided address when USCIS accepts your Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative) and forwards the details to the National Visa Center.
So What’s The Difference Between A Receipt Number And A Case Number?
The receipt number is usually sent out by the USCIS to confirm that they have received your application. The case number, on the other hand, is usually provided by the National Visa Center after USCIS approves your application for processing.
Other Required Paperwork To Remember
Along with your receipt number or case number, you will also need to assemble other important details about your application for reference. Given that some options, such as checking your green card status by phone, may take a long time to connect you with a USCIS representative, you need to have these paperwork with you before calling.
Also, it is one thing to have the document with you, and a totally different thing to be able to provide accurate information. If you are checking the status of your green card via phone call and you provide the wrong information, the USCIS officer may inform you right away about the invalidity of the information. This may include a wrong case number, name, address or any other required information.
However, if you are checking via email or mail, you may not realize that you have provided the wrong information until weeks later when USCIS informs you about it and requests that you provide the correct one. To save time and avoid such mistakes, it is therefore important to verify that you not only have the right documents, but also provide the correct information. One recommended method is to proofread everything before submitting your request.
How To Check Green Card Status Without Receipt Number Or Case Number
If for some reason you are unable to locate your receipt number or case number, you can call USCIS for further assistance. You do not need to have the receipt number or case number before calling. More details on calling USCIS have been provided in the sections below.
Option #1- Checking Your Green Card Status By Mail
You can check the status of your application with this option if you have provided a reliable mailing address, and that you have access to the provided address. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services sends out a confirmation mail for the following types of green card applications:
Form I-130 -Also known as a Petition for Alien Relative, this application seeks to establish the relationship between a U.S. citizen or a green card holder, and the person applying for the green card.
Form I-140 -Known as Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers, this is the form to fill if you are an alien worker seeking to become a permanent resident in the United States.
Form DS-261 -Also known as the Online Choice of Address and Agent, this form is usually meant for applicants outside the United States, who have an “agent” representing them at the National Visa Center.
However, for the mail option to work, the provided address in your application should be current. If you wish to change the address to a new one, make sure you notify the USCIS within 10 days. If you do not update the USCIS, you risk missing out on important mails.
Changing Or Updating Your Address
There are two ways you can change or update your address: online or by mail. To change your address online, go to the Change of Address page of the USCIS website. The page contains different guidelines that should be considered before changing or updating your address.
Also, the procedures vary depending on your specific situation; for example, if you are a civil surgeon, a victim of domestic violence, trafficking or other crime.
If you choose to do this via email, you will need to file Form AR-11, also known as Alien’s Change of Address Card. However, if you are outside the United States, you will need to send a message to the NVC with your updated address.
Option #2 – How To Check Your Green Card Status Online
This is the easiest and most common way to check the status of your case. To track your USCIS case status online, you will first need to identify the category in which your application falls. The exact procedure to check the status of your case online depends on two factors: if you are applying within the United States or outside.
Checking Your USCIS Case Status Online Within The U.S.
To check the status of your case as a US-based applicant, you need to follow these steps.
- Find your receipt number. Usually, the receipt number consists of three letters followed by ten numbers.
- Visit the Online Case Tracker on USCIS website
- Enter your receipt number into the search box
- Click “Check Status”
Checking Your Green Card Status Online Outside The United States
To check the status of your green card outside the United States, you need to follow the following steps.
- Locate the Immigrant Visa Case Number for your application
- Go to the NVC Consular Electronic Application Center, also known as CEAC
- Select Check My Visa Application Status
- Provide your Immigrant Visa Case Number
- Verify that you are human by entering the provided code
- Click Submit
Choosing Electronic Updates
When you choose to check USCIS case status online, you can also get alerts about your application. You can either choose a one-time notification or regular updates.
If you decide to be updated only once, you must submit Form G-1145, also known as e-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance, to USCIS. You will then select your preferred mode of notification either through email, text or both.
For regular updates on your USCIS case status, create an USCIS account online, accept their Terms and Conditions, and then select your preferred mode of contact. The options available are text, email or both.
Getting Updates From Outside The United States
To get further information on your USCIS case status from outside the United States, you must file form DS-261, and provide the details of the “agent” who will receive updates and follow up with your application with the NVC. The agent can either be yourself, your sponsor, relative, friend, attorney, immigration expert or any other individual you trust. When you choose this option, make sure the provided “agent” is reliable, available and can provide a working phone number, email and address.
Option #3 – Checking Your Green Card Status By Phone
To check your green card status by phone, make sure you have the relevant paperwork prior to your phone call. You need to have access to important details such as your receipt number, personal information, account information, application details, and so on.
Go to the USCIS website, and then select the Contact Us link. Click on the USCIS Contact Center link to view a list of contact options. The USCIS recommends that you try other contact options before settling for a phone call. However, if you want to speak directly to a representative about your USCIS case status, you may proceed to the Live Assistance tab on the website.
Checking By Phone Within The United States
There, you will see a list of phone numbers to call, and their hours of operation. The phone numbers are 1 800 375 5283 (TTY 800-767-1833) for applicants already residing in the United States.
Checking By Phone Outside The United States
If you are outside the United States, dial 212 620 3418 to check the status of your case. In some cases, you may need to include a (+1) before dialing the number.
Also, please be ready for long waiting times if you choose to check the USCIS case status via phone. The waiting time could last up to 30 minutes, and it is important to ensure that you are away from distractions. Also, for international callers, their local calling rates may apply.
Option #4 – Checking Your Green Card Status In Person
Even though the in-person option is not usually the most recommended, especially if all you need is an update regarding your USCIS case status, it has been in use for a very long time until recently. Factors such as the Covid19 pandemic have affected certain operations of the government, thus creating the need to socially distance and carry out most of these tasks online.
In Person Option For United States Residents
As of January 2021, the USCIS website states that you can no longer schedule an appointment online using InfoPass for domestic offices if you are already inside the U.S.. The government agency strongly recommends using the phone call, online option, and other tools available on their website to check your USCIS status.
In Person Option For Non-US Residents
If you don’t live in the United States and you want to check your USCIS case status in person, go to the My Appointment page on the USCIS website, and then select your current country of residence under Select A Country. You will see a list of steps to follow for your specific country.
However, please note that in-person appointments outside the US may be limited to certain services. For example, most US Embassies will only meet applicants during their VISA interviews but not provide updates about their applications.
The United States government also provides a list of U.S. embassies and consulates for your reference. For best results, locate your country from the list, and then call the embassy to follow up on your application. Also, make sure you have your receipt number and other relevant documents prior to making the phone call about your USCIS case status.
Option #5 – Checking Your Green Card Status By Email
The email option works best for applicants who are outside the United States. Actually, this option is not available for US-based applicants.
Email Option For Applicants Residing Outside The US
As of January 2021, the USCIS does not respond to general questions about USCIS case status. The website cites the Covid19 pandemic as the main reason behind this decision. They further explain that they are short-staffed, and are only available to respond to “urgent medical or humanitarian inquiries” or “necessary case updates that are still pending.”
However, the organization also strongly recommends visiting the FAQ page on their website, which contains answers to some of the frequently asked questions about USCIS case status and other applications.
Even though this option is still unavailable due the pandemic, the following steps may be followed once the restrictions have been lifted.
Sending Your Questions To The National Visa Center
- Go to Ask NVC
- Provide your NVC Case Number or USCIS receipt number
- Provide the applicants’ full name
- Provide the applicants’ date of birth
- Enter the name of the petitioner. This is the person sponsoring the main applicant.
- Provide your identity based on the options available in the drop-down menu
- Enter your email address
- Type in your question into the provided text box and attach a maximum of five files if applicable
- Verify that you are not a robot by passing the validation test
- Click Submit
USCIS will then review your question and get back to you as soon as possible, via the provided email. However, because of the pandemic and short-staffing, the response time may take longer than usual.
When To Check Your Green Card Case Status Online
USCIS provides the “Receipt date for a case inquiry” for every case for the purposes of understanding when to check USCIS case status online. For example, if you have filed your application today, it will be meaningless to check its status tomorrow.
Going by the numbers provided under the estimated time range, you will notice a corresponding date under Receipt Date For A Case Inquiry for your application. To inquire before the provided date, you can submit an “Outside normal processing time request” online.
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How To Check The Processing Time For Your Green Card Application
The USCIS provides a way to get more information about your application, giving you an idea of when to expect the results. These processing times vary depending on several factors, such as your location, the volume of application, the order of application, and more. Recently, the Covid19 pandemic has also increased the processing time because most government offices are understaffed.
For more information about the time needed to process your USCIS case status online, go to the Check Case Processing Times page of the USCIS website.
Provide the form number from the available options in the drop-down menu. In this case, select form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status) from the provided options.
Read more: Adjustment Of Status Process Explained
Select the Field Office or Service Center by clicking on the drop-down menu to view a list of options, and then click Get Processing Time to check the estimated time.
The estimated time needed to process the application will be displayed on your screen in form of two numbers, for example, “5 months to 12 months.” The first number(5) is the time it takes to complete at least half (50%) of the cases, while the second one (12) is the time it takes to complete at least 93% of the cases. The USCIS updates these processing times every month.
The process of applying for a green card and following up with your USCIS case status can be quite overwhelming. If you need help, it is always advisable to talk to an immigration attorney. By contacting an attorney, you will not have to worry about endless paperwork, complex information, and time-consuming processes.