If your immigration application or petition is pending, you may be interested in checking out its status. There are different ways you can check your case status, while the best option for you will depend on certain factors. True, your preferences play a major role, but your location also determines how and where to check your case status.
For example, if you are located outside the United States, the procedure may not be the same as for those already residing in the country. However, even before you discover different ways to check the status of your immigration application, you need to have some important documentation and information with you.
What You Need Before Checking The Status Of Your Immigration Application
Before you check the status of your case, you will need the following:
This is a 13 character code (three letters and ten numbers), usually found in Form I-797C (Notices of Action). The form does not require you to provide any further information; it is sent to notify you that your application has been received, rejected, re-opened or transferred. It can also be sent to notify you about your fingerprints appointment.
Example Of A USCIS Receipt Number
To properly identify the 13 character receipt number, keep in mind that it may include dashes and other special characters. The most common format is three letters, followed by 10 numbers separated by dashes. Here’s an example: ABC-12-354-56789
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) advises applicants not to include the dashes from their receipt numbers when using their website’s search tool. However, if the receipt number has other special characters other than dashes, they should be included in the search bar. More details about this will be provided in the sections below.
Other Additional Information Needed To Check The Status Of Your Case
You must also have additional information about your receipt number for verification purposes. Although the online method, which will be discussed in the section below, may not require additional information other than the receipt number, they may be needed when using other alternatives to check case status. Some important documentation and information that you should have to check case status, apart from the receipt number, include:
- The full name of the applicant
- Applicant’s date of birth
- Applicant’s identification, mostly a government-issued ID or passport
- Applicant’s address, phone number, email or both
How To Check Your Case Status Online
The official website of the USCIS has a tool that lets you check case status of any immigration application or petition just by providing the receipt number. Here are the steps to follow to check your case status online using this method.
Step #1 – Identify The Receipt Number
Following the steps explained earlier, identify the receipt number on your Form I-797C. Make sure you have the correct number before proceeding to the next step.
Step #2 – Go To The USCIS Official Website
Go to USCIS.gov, and then click on the Tools option from the main menu. On the next page, click on Check Your Case Status Online.
Step #3 – Enter Your Receipt Number
Once you have opened the Check Your Case Status Online page, enter the receipt number into the provided search box. Remember to remove dashes and include other special characters, if any.
Step #4 – Submit Your Request
Once you have verified that you have provided the correct receipt number, click Check Status to view the results.
What To Do If You Lost Your USCIS Receipt Number
Understandably, some applicants get into panic mode when they lose their receipt number. When this happens to you, you can rest assured that everything will be fine. You can simply call USCIS customer support on 1-800-375-5283 and ask them to help you.
Prior to the phone call, make sure you have all other relevant documents about the application because you will be required to prove that you are the applicant, or legally allowed to file on behalf of the applicant. Refer to the ‘Other additional information’ section above for a list of documentation you should have.
When you call the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services about your lost receipt number, explain your situation, and provide the required proof to support your claim. The customer care representative should be able to guide you on the next steps to follow, and also give you updates on your case status.
Additional Ways To Check Status Of Your Immigration Application
Even though the online option is the most popular and also the easiest, it may not be convenient for some applicants due to different reasons. Here are other possible ways to check the case status of your United States immigration application, such as a green card.
Checking By Phone
As mentioned earlier, to check your status by phone, simply call the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on 1-800-375-5283 with all relevant documentation on standby. You will be required to provide the receipt number and verify your identity.
However, many applicants do not prefer this option because of the long waiting times. It could take an average of 30 minutes to reach an operator when you use this method, while it could take less than a minute if you choose the online system.
Checking By Mail
Every USCIS processing center has unique contact information to receive and respond to various questions from applicants. To find a specific USCIS center, go to the USCIS website, and then click on the Field Offices tab. Towards the bottom of the page, you will see a Field Office Locator tool that lets you search for a local office by entering the zip code.
You will see the nearest offices based on the provided zip code. To check your case status, send a mail to the address of the USCIS office where you filed your petition. The mail should include the following information:
- Your full name
- Your date of birth
- Your alien number (if applicable)
- The date your application/petition was filed
- The location your petition/application was filed, including the address
- Your receipt number
You may also include a copy of your receipt in the mail for reference during the status check.
In Person Visit
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) no longer permits in-person visits for applicants already residing in the United States as of January 2021, due to Covid19 and other factors. Before this new policy, applicants would schedule an in-person visit to check case status by heading over to the My Appointment page of the USCIS website, and providing the required details under Scheduling An Appointment.
Knowing When To Check Your Case Status
While the process of checking your case status is meant to help you find out more about your case, you may end up with even more questions and speculations if you do not receive the desired results. For example, it is always advisable to find out the estimated processing time for your case before you proceed to check the case status online.
These processing times vary depending on factors such as the specific type of application and the volume of applications received. For example, some years back, it would take not more than six months for green card applications to be processed.
However, due to the increasing volume of application and factors such as the Covid19 pandemic that has led to short staffing in many government offices, the processing time for green card applicants have significantly increased.
UCIS Processing Times Tool
To help applicants find out when to expect a response about their immigration application, the USCIS has created a Processing Times tool. This tool, available on their website, provides a rough estimate for an application based on when it was filed and other factors. However, this tool works only for the following forms:
I-90: Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card (Green Card)
I-102: Application for Replacement/Initial Nonimmigrant Arrival-Departure Document
I-526: Immigrant Petition by Alien Investor
I-817: Application for Family Unity Benefits
I-824: Application for Action on an Approved Application or Petition
I-829: Petition by Investor to Remove Conditions on Permanent Resident Status
I-914: Application for T Nonimmigrant Status
I-924: Application For Regional Center Designation Under the Immigrant Investor Program
N-400: Application for Naturalization
N-600: Application for Certificate of Citizenship
N-600K: Application for Citizenship and Issuance of Certificate Under Section 322
How To Use The USCIS Processing Times Tool
Here’s how to check the processing times for your USCIS case online.
Step #1 – Locating The Tool
To locate this tool, go to the USCIS website, and then click on the Tools option from the menu. You will be redirected to the USCIS Tools And Resources page.
On this page, click on the Case Processing Times link from the provided options.
Step #2 – Choosing The Correct Form
On the Check Case Processing Times page, select the form that you want to check its status by clicking on the dropdown menu next to Form.
Step #3 – Selecting The Correct Field Office or Service Center
Click on the dropdown menu under Field Office Or Service Center to enter the most relevant option. The field offices and service centers vary depending on the selected form.
Step #4 – Submit Request
To submit your request to the selected field office or service center, click on the Get Processing Time button. You will see the estimated processing time at the bottom of the tool.
Interpreting The Results Of The Processing Times Tool
According to the USCIS, the cases are processed in the order they have been received, and this tool is updated every month. The website further explains that the processing times may change without prior notice.
The search results also come with a “Receipt Date For Case Inquiry” section. This is the part you want to focus on. The provided date is when you should expect to receive a response to your immigration application.
Therefore, if you have not heard from the USCIS and your application is passed the date provided under this section, you can contact them to find out more about your application.
However, if your application is still within the provided date, you do not have to contact USCIS about the status of your application. If you do, you will most likely receive a generic response informing you that your application is still within the processing times.
What To Do If Your Immigration Application Has Taken Longer Than Normal Processing Times
If you have applied for a green card, for example, and the processing time has surpassed the date displayed by the Processing Time tool, you may fill an e-Request form to find out more about the pending application.
Here’s how to fill an e-Request form.
Step #1 – Accessing The Form
To access the e-Request form, go to the USCIS website, click Tools, select Case Processing Times, and then select the Inquire About A Case Outside Normal Processing Time option. You will be redirected to the Outside Normal Processing Time page.
Step #2 – Filling Out The Form
Just like in the steps discussed above, you will need to have relevant information about the application. You need the form number and receipt number, date of filing, the applicants’ personal details, A-Number (optional), mailing address, email address, and details of the person who filed the case. You will also be required to provide details of the last action that was taken on your case. By this, it simply means that you need to specify the very last thing that was required from you by the USCIS to process your application.
This may be in form of a Request for Evidence, which is common for an applicant applying for a green card. It may also include a Biometrics/Fingerprints Appointment or an appearance at a scheduled appointment at a USCIS office. This is usually done to verify that you played your part by providing everything that was required of you.
Once it has been verified, USCIS will contact you via the email you provided when filling out this form. The email will be in form of a confirmation of your request, and another one containing the status of your pending application. If additional information is required from you to process the application, you will be notified.
Step #3 – Submitting The Form
To avoid further delays, make sure you crosscheck the provided details before clicking on the Submit button.
What To Do If You Need Help Checking The Case Status Of Immigration Applications
The process of checking the case status of immigration applications can be easy or complicated depending on several factors. If you are an immigrant, the entire process may seem strange to you, including the different types of documentation that need to be filed. If you make an error when filing for your green card or any other application/petition, it could lead to further delays.
To avoid such setbacks, it is always advisable to contact an experienced immigration attorney whenever you feel stuck. These law experts are usually familiar with the ins and outs of filing for various immigration applications and can help you through the whole process. With the help of a professional law firm, you can always relax knowing that your application will be processed from start to finish by experts.