Congressional help

If you have a pending immigration case that is beyond normal processing times and you have used all available administrative remedies to move the case forward, your congressional representative may be able to assist. We explain how to get help from your congressional representative when your immigration case has stalled.

When can I get congressional help?

Requesting immigration benefits is an administrative process. When seeking benefits through an administrative process you must follow procedure before moving to the next level of assistance. Before seeking congressional help, make sure your case qualifies by following these steps:

  • Step 1 – Case Receipt – The case is filed and received with USCIS and assigned a receipt number. The receipt number is then used to track the case progress with USCIS.
  • Step 2 – Case Processing – After the case is received it is processed according to the listed USCIS processing times.  Each case type processes differently and processing times vary depending on the USCIS service center handling the case. In most cases, standard processing times are several months to years. Cases within normal processing times do not normally qualify for congressional help.
  • Step 3 – Case Inquiry – If the case has gone beyond the listed processing time for the service center where your case is being processed, you can then submit a case inquiry directly with USCIS. “Submit a Case Inquiry“In most cases, your representative will not be able to assist if your case is both outside normal processing times and USCIS fails to act on your properly submitted case inquiry. Keep a record of all inquiries to provide your representative when seeking assistance.
  • Step 4 – Ombudsman Support – The purpose of the Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) Ombudsman’s Office is to improve the quality of citizenship and immigration services by providing individual case assistance, identifying systemic issues, and making recommendations to improve the administration of immigration benefits through USCIS. Here’s how—and when—to seek their assistance. Click Here
  • Step 5 – Congressional Assistance – If you have followed the above steps, and the case still remains pending with no action,  you can then seek congressional assistance.

How do I get congressional help?

If you have exhausted your administrative remedies by following the above steps, you can then seek congressional assistance. This is done by first identifying who your local representative is. Each representative covers a certain geographical area. You can find your local representative by entering your street address, including your four-digit zip code extension (i.e., 14221-1507)  into the “Find Your Representative Tool

You will then be directed to your specific representative’s website. Most representatives have a “Services” or similar section on their website. Under this section, you should be able to find “Help with a Federal Agency.” In most cases, you will be required to sign a release, complete an official request, and provide the details of your case along with supporting evidence for your request.

It is important to follow each step in the administrative process. Skipping a step can lead to further delays and added frustration.

How do I track my case status with USCIS? How do I request CIS Ombudsman support?

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