Often the wait times for immigration benefits are incredibly long. This is especially frustrating for people who are in a state of limbo while waiting for their applications to be adjudicated. Often these people are unable to travel out of the country or even work legally while they are waiting for some action by USCIS. These waits are especially maddening when combined with the long wait times for visa numbers to become available for Family or Employment based Green Card benefits.
There are a few ways to attempt to find out from USCIS the status of an immigration benefit that was filed with their office. First, before even inquiring into a case, you can examine the processing times for different types of applications on the USCIS website. Often, USCIS will not attempt to speed up the processing of a case that continues to be within their normal processing times. If there are emergencies which would warrant asking USCIS to expedite a case, such as a child turning 21, USCIS may be inclined to accelerate the processing, but otherwise it is difficult to get them to do so.
Once a case is outside of the normal processing time, there are a few avenues which someone can take to attempt to speed up the processing. First, a person can schedule an infopass appointment with USCIS at their local office. At an infopass appointment, a person can speak with an Immigration Information Officer who will attempt to check the status of their case. That officer can usually explain to them where their file currently is being processed. If the file is at the local office, the officer can make a note on the file letting the supervisor know that the case is beyond the normal processing times. These officers usually are not able to find out the reasons a case is delayed but they can attempt to at least flag the file. When a file is flagged it informs supervisors that a case is beyond the normal processing time.
Second, a person can contact the National Customer Service Center. The number for the National Customer Service Center(NCSC) is 1-800-375-5283. Often at the NCSC, the operators can provide a caller about the same amount of information which they would be able to obtain at a normal infopass appointment. If a case is still at one of the National Processing Centers, rather than at the local office, it makes more sense to call the NCSC because they can communicate more effectively with those processing centers to let them know a case is beyond the normal processing time.
Sometimes none of the administrative options provided by USCIS allow a person to expedite their case. They are told by USCIS that their case is being processed and nothing more. That is when a person can seek to file a Petition for Writ of Mandamus in Federal District Court. A Writ of Mandamus asks a Federal Judge to order the government to do something. In this case, a person would be asking the Judge to order USCIS to adjudicate the application. It is not an order asking for a favorable decision on the application; it is merely asking USCIS to make some decision. A Writ of Mandamus can be filed in many different types of cases.
If you wish to learn more about the different ways to either check on the status of a case or try to expedite a case, please contact our office for a consultation.
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