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.
When can the CIS Ombudsman help me?
The CIS Ombudsman is able to help with the following situations:
- Cases past published processing times, cases with no published processing times, and cases that have been pending for more than six months
- Typographic errors in immigration documents
- Cases where the beneficiary may “age out” of eligibility for the requested immigration benefit
- Applications and petitions that were improperly rejected by USCIS due to clear errors of fact or gross and obvious misapplication of the relevant law by USCIS
- Certain cases involving US military personnel and their families
- Priority-2 Direct Access Program
- Cases where an individual is in removal proceedings before the immigration court and has an application or petition pending before USCIS that may have a bearing on the outcome of removal proceedings
- Systemic issues that should be subjected to higher-level review
- Lost files and/or file transfer problems
- Mailing issues, including non-delivery of correspondence and/or immigration documents
- Certain cases involving an emergency or a hardship fall under USCIS expedite criteria
When CAN’T the CIS Ombudsman intervene?
CIS Ombudsman normally cannot intervene with USCIS if:
- Intervene if a case is within posted processing times unless there is a statutory or regulatory processing time requirement such as Form I-360 and Form N-400.
- USCIS has denied an expedited request.
- You are seeking legal advice.
- You are seeking assistance with an issue that does not involve USCIS.
- Communicate with anyone other than the applicant/petitioner or attorney about a case, without written consent. From the applicant or petitioner who signed the application form submitted to USCIS.
- Compel USCIS to approve a pending application/petition.
- Rectify actions resulting from bad information given by third parties (i.e., legal representatives or Designated School Officials).
- Engage on issues that are solely in the purview of another government Department or agency.
How do I request CIS Ombudsman assistance, and what should I do beforehand?
Before you file a request for case assistance with a CIS Ombudsman, you should:
- Check USCIS processing times to verify that your case is outside of the published processing times. Visit USCIS: Case Processing Times and follow the prompts. After entering “Form Type” and “Field Office,” click on “Get Processing Time,” then scroll down to “Receipt Date for a Case Inquiry.” If your receipt date is before the “Receipt Date for Case Inquiry,” or if there is no processing time listed for your form type on the USCIS website, but your case has been pending for more than 6 months, you may submit a request for case assistance with USCIS online, or by calling the USCIS Contact Center at 1-800-375-5283.
- Create a USCIS online account so you can communicate directly and electronically with USCIS. Even if you have filed on paper, you can link your case to your online account. This will allow you to see your case status and history.
- Research the last recorded action on your case. You can do this by using Case Status Online with your receipt number.
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Additional Outside Resources
- USCIS: The Office of the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman
- USCIS: Case Processing Times
- USCIS: Tools and Resources
- USDHS: How to Submit a Case Assistance Request
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