It’s no secret that USCIS processing takes time, and delays are common. We understand playing the waiting game is frustrating, but you should know there are some steps you can take to overcome delays and streamline the process.

What Causes USCIS Delays?

Understanding the factors contributing to USCIS delays is crucial for effectively mitigating them. Some of the most significant factors are:

1. High Application Volume and Backlogs

According to USCIS reports, the agency adjudicated nearly 41,000 immigration benefit requests and processed 3,800 applications to sponsor relatives or spouses daily in FY 2023. A higher-than-average application volume can overwhelm USCIS resources and lead to processing backlogs. Errors or omissions in applications may require additional review and take longer.

USCIS provides a backlog report to keep applicants up to date on processing status. As of January 2024, USCIS reports just under 300,000 eligible applicants still pending the scheduling of an interview.

2. Security and Background Checks

USCIS rigorously reviews applicants, conducting thorough security and background checks. Certain cases, especially those involving national security concerns or individuals with complex backgrounds, might require additional review and investigations. This can significantly lengthen the processing timeframe.

3. Policy Changes

New immigration policies can require USCIS to adjust how they conduct case reviews and complete other processing steps, causing delays while the agency adjusts to the changes.

When Should You File a Complaint with USCIS?

You might feel powerless to do anything to fight USCIS delays, but you can seek resolution by filing a complaint.

Filing a complaint may be appropriate if:

  • Your case is significantly outside processing times, exceeding the 93% and 130% benchmarks of the USCIS processing times with no explanation or update from USCIS.
  • Inaccurate or incomplete responses if you receive unclear or contradictory information from USCIS that leaves you unsure of the next steps.
  • Case processing errors in USCIS’s case handling include incorrect application data or missing documents.

How to File a USCIS Complaint

If you’ve determined your best option is to file a USCIS complaint, follow these steps:

1. Gather Your Information and Consider Legal Help

You’ll need some information when submitting your complaint, such as:

  • Your contact information and receipt number.
  • Evidence of delays, including notices and other correspondence.
  • A description of the issue or problem you’re facing.

If your issue is complex or you believe your rights were violated, consider working with an immigration attorney. American Immigration Law Group’s team of experienced attorneys understands the frustration and challenges of navigating the immigration system. We can assist with filing and following up on a complaint.

2. Attempt to Resolve the Issue Locally

Before escalating the complaint, contact the local USCIS or field office responsible for your case and explain the issue. They may get some movement on your case with no complaint necessary.

3: Choose Your Filing Method

USCIS has a few routes for accepting feedback and complaints:

  • Online Submission: This is the quickest and most recommended option for cases exceeding the 130% processing time benchmark. The link to the form can be found here. You can explain your reason for filing and attach supporting documents.
  • Written Complaint: Submit a complaint letter in the mail, fax, or via email to the DHS Office of the Inspector General or USCIS Headquarters. Include all relevant information and documents to emphasize the negative impact of the delay.
  • In-person Complaint: You can visit a USCIS office and ask to speak to a supervisor. The supervisor should take your name and information about the nature of the complaint and attempt to resolve the issue.

5. Follow Up and Consider Legal Help

After filing a complaint, monitor your case status online or contact USCIS for updates. You can contact USCIS Customer Service to inquire about the progress of your complaint and any actions taken.

What Happens After You Submit a Complaint?

Regardless of your filing method, you’ll typically receive an initial acknowledgment message confirming receipt of your complaint, including a reference number. Your complaint will then be assigned to a case officer for review. The officer will review your case and may contact you with questions.

After your case is reviewed, there are a few possible outcomes:

  • If the complaint demonstrably justifies faster processing, USCIS might expedite your case.
  • Even if not expedited, you might receive a more detailed explanation for the delay and an updated timeline for when a decision can be expected.
  • In some cases, USCIS may not find sufficient evidence to warrant intervention or expedite the case. However, they should still explain their reasoning and any available recourse you might have.

How Long Does a Case Review Take?

The entire process, from submitting the complaint to receiving a response, can vary significantly depending on the case complexity and backlog.

Questions about USCIS Processing? Call American Immigration Law Group Today

While filing a complaint or pursuing legal action may not be necessary in every case, it may be justified if you’ve experienced unreasonable delays with no updates or communication from USCIS. You shouldn’t be left wondering about the status of your case when your future is hanging in the balance.

If you’re facing USCIS delays, American Immigration Law Group can help. Our attorneys can assess your situation and help decide the best course of action.

Call 314-416-8000 today or contact us to learn more about our services.