Overcoming USCIS Delays
When you file any documents with the USCIS, USCIS will generally provide you with a “processing time” for the type of application or petition you have filed. USCIS may change these processing times arbitrarily depending on the number of applications they have received, but there is a regulatory timeframe within which USCIS must approve or deny the application. What happens if USCIS fails to respond within the processing time? Here are the only appropriate steps you should take to make sure your case is handled promptly once that happens:
Step 1: Write to the USCIS
Generally, people will attempt to call the USCIS call center operators in hopes of speaking with a Tier 1 or Tier 2 employee. However, at most, the call center operators will provide some basic advice, but they will not be able to contribute any meaningful guidance or do anything with your case. Instead, visit the USCIS Case Inquiry system and submit a written inquiry on your case. This will not only (likely) ensure an adequate response from the USCIS, but you will have a paper trail and proof of a good faith effort that you put in trying to resolve your case before going forward with the next steps.
Step 1a: Use DHS Ombudsman Inquiry System
We recommend you use The Office of the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman (CIS Ombudsman) system alongside Step 1 as this Office is specifically designed to address your issues with USCIS. Instead of an online form, you will need to fill out Form DHS-7001 (see this graphic for guidance) and file it along with any supporting documentation. Save a copy of the filing for yourself.
Step 1b: Contact your Senator
Every state has two (2) Senators, and every Senator’s office has a division that specifically handles immigration inquiries. Feel free to call California Senator Diane Feinstein’s office, and their associates will guide you in making the appropriate request at the Senator’s office.
If you fail to resolve your case through the steps above, we must bring in the big guns!
WRIT OF MANDAMUS
You can file a “lawsuit” against the government in the form of a Writ of Mandamus. This is a document filed at the Federal District Court that has jurisdiction over the legal issue. Depending on which USCIS Field Office is handling the issue, you will need the help of a lawyer to pursue this action.
Once you file this action, an Assistant United States Attorney (AUSA) will be assigned to it, and your attorney will be dealing with the US attorney going forward. Generally, your lawsuit will be handled during the negotiations between your attorney and the U.S. attorney, primarily because the Field Office handling your case will be forced to act, approving or denying your application/petition.
Remember, filing this action is the last resort. You must show you put in a good faith effort trying to resolve your case beforehand. Feel free to contact our office if you feel USCIS has unduly delayed or otherwise mismanaged your application or petition.