USCIS Delays in Your Immigration Case (2023)

Why Are There USCIS Delays in Processing My Immigration Case?

Unfortunately, USCIS delays are common. Maybe you sent an immigration application with United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) years ago, but never got a decision. Now you wonder if something went wrong.

(Video) What Makes USCIS Start Working on My Delayed Case?

Why is there a delay?

Sometimes, nothing is wrong, and you simply need patience. Bear in mind that the government’s immigration case backlog and processing times are unusually high.

But other times, something does go wrong, and you need to fix the delay. Below we look at reasons for USCIS delays in your case and how to fix them.

(Video) USCIS Immigration Case Delayed?!? Another Option #shorts

USCIS Delays in Your Immigration Case (1)

Reasons for USCIS Delays in Your Immigration Case

Many things can cause USCIS delays. Let’s look at a few:

USCIS needs more information or documents

Delays happen when USCIS is missing information or documents.

For example, if you’ve filed a visa petition (Form I-130) as a parent of a U.S citizen and didn’t include proof of your relationship, then USCIS may need a birth certificate or marriage certificate. Or, if you filed a work permit application (Form I-765), then USCIS may want for more proof of how you qualify for one. Or perhaps you filed for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), and USCIS wants to know more about some old criminal charges against you.

Sometimes forms are missing. For example, green card applicants often forget to include an Affidavit of Support (Form I-864) or a Declaration of Self-Sufficiency (I-944). Without these, your case could get stuck.

Sometimes information is missing. For example, applicants often leave blanks answers to important questions. If you leave a portion blanks, expect USCIS to send you a request for evidence.

The case is complex or there are serious legal issues

USCIS delays can also happen when a case is complex or unusual. In hard cases, the reviewing officer has to get guidance from their supervisors or from lawyers at their agency. Or sometimes one officer passes the case to an officer that has more experience or knowledge. When a case is transferred official because it is hard, you can expect a case delay.

(Video) USCIS processing time UPDATE - and the cause of delays

When is a case complicated? Several factors can complicate an immigration case:

  • you have multiple entries to and exits from the U.S.
  • you were in deportation proceedings at one point
  • you have criminal arrests and convictions
  • you have negative immigration history, like lying to immigration officers

In any complicated case, expect your immigration application to touch multiple hands, as immigration officials try to figure out what to do with your case. If this happens, your immigration case processing time will be slower than normal.

USCIS misplaced your file or it’s stuck on someone’s desk

Sometimes a file makes its way to a USCIS official and gets buried in a pile. Worse still, multiple USCIS officials may look at your case and the file gets lost. If you suspect this has happened, then you need to act immediately.

What should you do if you there’s a delay at USCIS? Below are a few suggestions.

Fixing USCIS Delays in Your Immigration Case

If your USCIS delays your case, you’re probably confused about what steps to take next to fix the problem and speed up processing. Below is some guidance.

Contacting USCIS

  • The first step if USCIS delays your case is to check your case status online. To do this you’ll need your receipt number, which can be found at the top left corner of the form I-797 that USCIS sent you when you filed your case. Enter this number on the case status page in the space provided to see if there is any information about the delay.
  • If there there is nothing helpful when you check the case status, you should next complete an online inquiry with USCIS. The online inquiry can help with USCIS delays. To make an online request, you’ll need the I-797 receipt number (found at the top left corner), the form type (found at the top right corner) and information about the parties involved. After you submit an online request, you will receive a letter or email telling you that your case inquiry has been received and that you need to wait for a period of time. You may also be able to do this through the USCIS online system.
  • If after the period passes and there is no answer, you can call 1-800-375-5283 about the USCIS delays in your case. Follow the prompts and have the receipt I-797 ready. Note, the person who filed the form has to make the phone call or be present on the phone call. Otherwise, USCIS will not assist you.
  • If all these fail, then consider contacting the USCIS ombudsman. This is an official appointed to help resolve customer complaints with USCIS. The process for requesting case assistance through the ombudsman is online. Keep in mind that the ombudsman is not meant to be the first step you take, the ombudsman will only assist you if you’ve already made an effort to use the USCIS system to resolve the issue.

Contacting an Immigration Lawyer

In the case of USCIS delays, sometimes it’s useful to get assistance from an immigration lawyer. An immigration lawyer does not have a magic wand to resolve any case delay, but he or she may have a few extra tools that you may not. You want to find an experienced immigration lawyer, however.

(Video) USCIS Improving Case Processing Transparency | U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services |

Most experienced immigration lawyers are members of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). AILA lawyers have set up special methods to communicate with immigration officials at every immigration agency, including USCIS. In some parts of the country, AILA lawyers can communicate directly with local and national USCIS officers through email or phone, and can help resolve a case that is significantly delayed.

An immigration lawyer can also help you to file a lawsuit against the government agency that has delayed your case far longer than necessary. This is called a petition for writ of mandamus, which is a lawsuit asking a court to make USCIS do something required by law like issue decisions on cases for green cards or citizenship.

A lawsuit against the government is a last resort as it’s generally very expensive. It’s always best to try less expensive options first like the ones outlined above.

Keep in mind that fixing delays may depend on which form you filed

Fixing a USCIS delay in your immigration case can depend on which form you filed. (Be sure to read up on how to check your case status for I-130s, I-485s, I-589s, and I-765s.)

If you’re experiencing a delay in processing of a family-based green card petition (Form I-130), then the forms are usually processed first at a USCIS service center before they are sent to a local field office. Use the steps above to try to locate the case and then decide what to do.

If you filed an application for citizenship or naturalization on Form N-400 then the process for fixing delays is slightly different. You may have a few more options. To start, immigration officials are required by law to give you a decision on your application within 120 days of your interview. If they do not, you should write a certified letter to your local field office requesting a response. If nothing happens, then you should consider contacting an immigration attorney.

(Video) 6 Ways to Speed Up Your Immigration Case in 2023 - I-130, I-140, I-485, I-129F | USCIS News

The point is that each case is different, each form is processed differently, and the way to avoid and fix delays is to be patient and address issues on a case-by-case basis.


Why is USCIS delaying my case? ›

Many factors may affect how long it takes USCIS to complete an application, petition or request, such as the number of applications, petitions, or requests we receive, workload and staffing allocations, the time a benefit requestor takes responding to a request for more information, as well as policy and operational ...

What happens if USCIS case is taking too long? ›

For most applications, you can send us an inquiry if your case has been pending longer than the processing time posted. NOTE: We are actively processing your case if, in the past 60 days, you: Received a notice from us about your case, Responded to a request for evidence, OR.

Are immigration cases delayed? ›

You may experience a delay of your immigration case with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Unfortunately, this is common.

Is there a way to speed up a USCIS case? ›

You can generally request expedited processing by calling the USCIS Contact Center at 800-375-5283 (TTY 800-767-1833) or by asking Emma after you have obtained a receipt notice. (You can access Emma by clicking on the Ask Emma icon on the top right of this page).

Can you sue USCIS for delay? ›

Now, if the US government fails to meet this deadline, you have the right to file a 1447b lawsuit against USCIS over delays concerning your application in Federal District Court. In other words, 1447b is the federal statute that holds USCIS accountable and simultaneously enables you to sue USCIS for delay.

How do I know if USCIS is reviewing my case? ›

Wondering where you can check your case status? Visit the USCIS Case Status web page and enter your 13-character receipt number. If you're curious about the standard processing time for your petition, check which USCIS Service Center is handling your case and visit the Case Processing Times web page.

Can a lawyer speed up my immigration case? ›

Immigration attorneys can help speed up your immigration case in a few different ways. The most obvious is by using their knowledge and experience to make the process go more smoothly and easily.

Can I call USCIS to ask about my case? ›

Persons with case-specific inquiries who have tried using the online tools and have not been able to attain the information they are looking for may call the USCIS Contact Center at 1-800-375-5283 (TTY: 1-800-767-1833).

Will USCIS speed up in 2023? ›

As cycle times improve, processing times will follow, and applicants and petitioners will receive decisions on their cases more quickly. USCIS will increase capacity, improve technology, and expand staffing to achieve these new goals by the end of FY 2023.

How many immigration cases are currently pending? ›


How long can immigration hold you? ›

A: If ICE does not assume custody after 48 hours (excluding weekends and holidays), the local law enforcement agency (LEA) is required to release the individual. The LEA may not lawfully hold an individual beyond the 48-hour period.

What is the current immigration case backlog? ›

ASIDE FROM SHIFTING BORDER POLICY, there's another ongoing problem within the federal agencies that adjudicate immigration proceedings: a growing backlog of more than 11 million cases across the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Which USCIS office is the fastest? ›

The most efficient U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services field office is also stated to be in Cleveland. The USCIS office efficiency is reflected in the highest backlog completion of 71.3%, and the nation's shortest average processing time, which is only four months. Almost nobody waited longer than 12.3 months.

Which is the fastest USCIS service center? ›

Current USCIS Processing Times in 2023
  • EAC or VSC: Vermont Service Center – 13 months on average.
  • LIN or NSC: Nebraska Service Center – 6 months on average.
  • SRC or TSC: Texas Service Center – 11 months on average.
  • WAC or CSC: California Service Center – 8 months on average.
Dec 6, 2022

How many cases does USCIS process a day? ›

On an average day we:

Adjudicate more than 32,500 requests for various immigration benefits. Process 3,700 applications to sponsor relatives and future spouses. Analyze nearly 550 tips, leads, cases and detections for potential fraud, public safety and national security concerns.

How long does USCIS have to make a decision? ›

As a matter of regulation, USCIS has 120 days to issue a decision. If no decision is issued after 120 days, the applicant may request judicial review of his/her application in U.S. Federal District Court.

Do I need a lawyer to sue USCIS? ›

Let's Get Started on Your Case Together

One can exercise their rights and legally sue USCIS. While this action is possible, it is rare. The process is very lengthy and complicated, therefore hiring a knowledgeable immigration attorney is important.

How much does suing USCIS cost? ›

What Are the Filing Fees? Fees for U.S. District Court Complaint is $350.00, plus $50.00 (est.) for Service of Process.

How long does USCIS actively reviewing your case? ›

AAO appellate review: The AAO strives to complete its appellate review within 180 days from the time it receives a complete case record after the initial field review. Some cases may take longer than 180 days due to factors beyond the AAO's control.

How often does USCIS update case status? ›

Be aware that USCIS updates its average processing times once a month.

How do you know which Uscis office is handling my case? ›

The first three letters of your receipt number will tell you the exact service center that takes care of your application. Other than that, you can simply check out the list of application/petition types and the offices that process them, as well as which centers have jurisdiction over your state.

How much does a US immigration lawyer cost? ›

Hourly rate — Immigration lawyers usually charge $100 to $600 per hour. It usually comes with consultation or immigration court proceedings, for example: removal proceedings.

Can you pay to speed up your immigration process? ›

Premium Processing

Premium processing provides expedited processing for Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, and Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker. Premium processing guarantees processing within 15 calendar days, or the premium processing fee will be refunded.

Are immigration lawyers worth the money? ›

Hiring an immigration lawyer adds additional legal fees to your case, but often it comes with numerous benefits. Hiring an immigration lawyer can save you time and stress and increase your chances of success.

How do I talk to an immigration officer USCIS? ›

Our toll free number is 800-375-5283 (TTY 800-767-1833) and our hours of operation are Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm Eastern.

Can I email USCIS about my case? ›

Step 2: If more than 15 days have passed since you contacted the NCSC and the issue has not been resolved or explained, you can email the proper USCIS Service Center to check the status of your case. Please note: Emails should be sent to the Service Center that has jurisdiction over your case.

Do USCIS officers call you? ›

If you receive a call like that, USCIS urges you to say “No, thank you” and hang up immediately. USCIS never asks for any form of payment or personal information over the phone. Do not give payment or personal information over the phone to anyone who claims to be a USCIS official.

Why is USCIS taking so long 2023? ›

The combination of more people applying and slower processing due to added requirements created the perfect storm, causing the USCIS backlog to nearly double.

How long does it take to get I 130 in 2023? ›

Approximately 6 to 12 Months After Filing

Most Form I-130 petitions for immediate relatives are approved within a 6 to 12 month time frame, but they can take longer in some cases. If you are in the United States and also filed an application to adjust status, USCIS will begin reviewing Form I-485 at this point.

Does USCIS work on weekends? ›

Is USCIS Premium processing 15 calendar days or business days ? It is calendar days, means it includes both working days and non-working days like holidays and weekends.

How big is the USCIS backlog? ›

Growing Backlog and Slower Processing. Since 2014, the number of outstanding applications for any type of legal immigration benefit has nearly tripled, from 3.2 to nearly 8.6 million applications in the backlog[8] (Figure 1).

How backed up is the USCIS? ›

Jan 1, 2022

According to one USCIS report, the agency claimed to have a net backlog of 2.5 million cases at the end of FY2019. However, its Service-wide Forms report for that same year showed an actual outstanding backlog of nearly 5.7 million cases.

Why are Uscis processing times increasing? ›

One major reason for the slower processing times is that the agency has greatly increased the lengths of its forms from fewer than 200 pages total to more than 700 pages total from 2003 to 2023. Every additional page means more time for the adjudicators to review the application.

What is the 180 day rule for immigration? ›

The 180-Day Portability Rule allows an applicant with an immigrant visa status to change his or her employment (job) without compromising their application for adjustment of status provided they find permanent employment with another organization in the same occupational classification as the job under which the ...

How do you lift an immigration hold? ›

An immigration lawyer can contact the local ICE office that has jurisdiction over the case and request that the agency lift its detainer. If the arrestee is a U.S. citizen, an attorney can try to provide a field office with: a copy of the arrestee's birth certificate, a copy of a U.S. passport, or.

How does immigration know if you overstayed? ›

If your departure date is missing or does not match up with your I-94 form, the US government will know that you have overstayed your visa. Another way that the United States can find out if you have overstayed your visa is through random checks.

Why is US immigration taking so long? ›

USCIS now has a backlog of more than 5,000,000 petitions and applications to process. The processing times for many types of immigration cases have increased dramatically. A bright spot is that USCIS appears to be processing naturalization applications much more promptly in recent months than in the past few years.

What does it mean when immigration is actively reviewing your case? ›

USCIS must thoroughly review your case before deciding whether to approve or deny you. Unfortunately, this active review stage begins when the assigned reviewer receives your file and lasts until they request more information or make a decision.

How many people are waiting in green card backlog? ›

Employment-based green card backlogs (USCIS and State Dept)
USCIS pending principal applicantsTotal applicants waiting in backlog
EB-3 (Other)1,19320,014
3 more rows
Sep 14, 2022

Which state is easiest to get green card? ›

What Are the Most Immigrant Friendly States in the USA?
  • 8 — Washington.
  • 7 — District of Columbia.
  • 6 — Georgia.
  • 5 — Maryland.
  • 4 — New Jersey.
  • 3 — New York.
  • 2 — Illinois.
  • 1 — California.

Which state is easy to get U.S. citizenship? ›

The top 3 best overall metro areas for immigrants to become U.S. citizens are Cleveland, Ohio; Riverside, California; and Louisville, Kentucky. The worst 3 metro areas for immigrants to become U.S. citizens are all in Texas: Austin, Houston, and Dallas.

Is USCIS first come first serve? ›

Since most cases are processed on a “first-come; first-served” basis, by knowing when your case was filed and assuming the rate of processing remains constant, you may estimate when the agency is likely to process your case. Please remember that there are many factors that can affect the processing of a specific case.

Is USCIS electronic immigration system faster? ›

USCIS is transitioning to a new system called the Electronic Immigration System. The new system is faster, more secure, and easier to upgrade and update.

How do I know what time USCIS is processing? ›

You must go to the processing times webpage, where we provide a tool to help you determine whether you can request an update on your case. Using the tool, you enter your receipt date, which can be found on your receipt notice, into the text box.

Why is USCIS understaffed? ›

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) operates under a flawed funding model. This virtually guarantees that the agency will always be under-funded and under-staffed. As a result, USCIS has been plagued for years by enormous backlogs of applications for immigration benefits.

Does immigration check your Facebook? ›

Essentially, the U.S. government assures that they request applicants' social network accounts to see if there is any evidence of the applicant being a threat to national security, any close ties to known criminal organizations, or if they committed fraud with any personal information given on immigration forms.

Can I have 2 cases with USCIS? ›

You can file the family-based petition without jeopardizing either application. The USCIS permits having two pending immigration cases at the same time.

Does USCIS investigate? ›


USCIS conducts an investigation of the applicant upon his or her filing for naturalization. The investigation consists of certain criminal background and security checks. The background and security checks include collecting fingerprints and requesting a “name check” from the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI).

Is USCIS taking longer than expected? ›

Wait Times for Green Cards

Form I-130 (officially called the “Petition for Alien Relative”): There is a net trend from FY 2017 until FY 2021 of increasing processing times, with an average increase of 1-2 months until FY 2022, where processing times average 9.8 months.

Is USCIS processing time improving? ›

The processing time that applicants feel is how long it takes to find out the outcome of their request. As I have previously documented, the average of the median processing times across all forms for which DHS-USCIS reports data increased threefold—from less than 4 months in 2012 to over a year in 2022.

What is USCIS doing to reduce backlog? ›

Premium Processing: The Market- Based Solution to Immigration Backlogs. For some forms, USCIS allows applicants to pay for “premium processing,” which legally requires USCIS to respond to applications quickly, between 15 and 45 days, depending on the type of application.

Will USCIS speed up 2023? ›

As cycle times improve, processing times will follow, and applicants and petitioners will receive decisions on their cases more quickly. USCIS will increase capacity, improve technology, and expand staffing to achieve these new goals by the end of FY 2023.

How long does it take USCIS to update case status? ›

Usually, USCIS receipt notice can take anywhere from 15 to 30 days. Sometimes, if there are delays at the Service center, there are cases, where it can take a few months. In such cases, you should reach out to USCIS to get to know more.

How can I force USCIS to make a decision? ›

Is there a way to pressure the Immigration Service to work faster on my case? Yes. If there have been unreasonable delays in your case, you may file a complaint against the Immigration Service in the Federal Court, and the Court can force the Immigration Service to make a decision in your case.

How long does it take USCIS to review request for evidence? ›

How long does it take USCIS to make a decision after RFE? It can take up to 60 days under standard processing for a decision, but this can be reduced to 15 days with premium processing.

How big is USCIS backlog? ›

Table 1 gives a broad sense of the processing backlog by department and the significant changes since 2019. As of June 2022, the DOL-OFLC had a backlog of about 202,539 pending cases—up from 95,579 in 2019. As of June 2022, the DHS-USCIS backlog had reached nearly 8.8 million cases—up from 5.7 million in 2019.

How many immigration cases are backlogged? ›

ASIDE FROM SHIFTING BORDER POLICY, there's another ongoing problem within the federal agencies that adjudicate immigration proceedings: a growing backlog of more than 11 million cases across the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

How long is USCIS 2023 processing time? ›

That said, in 2023, the average processing time for work permits is 3.6 months, down from 4.1 months in 2022.


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