The immigration system can cause a lot of headaches. It can take months to just fill out paperwork. Once you’ve applied, cases can drag on for years, and it can be hard to get a clear answer on where your application stands.
Here, we’ll discuss what your options are if you believe your case is taking longer that in should. And if you have any other questions about your immigration case, contact Monument Immigration.
For most visa cases, there is what is called a normal processing time. This is the time that the government says it usually takes to reviews and make a decision on your application. Although they use the word “normal” this processing time can be years. If you haven’t heard back after three years, that doesn’t always mean that your review has been delayed.
If you are still within the window of the normal processing time, all you can do is wait patiently for a decision to be made on your case. The normal processing time varies greatly depending on the type of application that you are filing. Check with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) here to see the times for different types of visa applications. It’s not uncommon for these times to be multiple years. Although this is frustrating, you don’t have many options if your case is still within this time.
The first thing you should consider is entering your receipt number into the USCIS case system.
Often this service is not helpful, and only has old information that you have likely already received by mail. However, it is quick and worth doing, in case you missed a piece of mail, and might give you all the information you need.
The next step is to call a customer service representative at USCIS. Be prepared, as this can be a frustrating experience, and can take a decent amount of time. The representatives often cannot answer many questions, and the information they give you is often little more than what you can read online or have received in the mail. You can ask to speak to a supervisor, but this won’t always lead anywhere useful. However, calling USCIS can put attention back on your case.
If you have called and still have not learned anything new about your application, you should make an Infopass appointment through USCIS.
This will be an in-person meeting with a USCIS agent at a nearby USCIS office. You can ask them about your case, and they can check to see if there have been any updates that you have not yet been notified of. USCIS agents have much more authority to answer questions and look up information that customer service representatives. There’s a chance the agent will be able to find information about your case and what the timeline is for a decision.
These appointments are not always helpful, and in recent years they have become hard to schedule. USCIS now only allows certain applicants to schedule in-person meetings for particular reasons, meaning you may not even be able to see an agent. If you are considering setting up an appointment, contact your local USCIS office to see if you are eligible.
Even with the online case systems and customer representatives, one of the most effective methods for getting information is still to write a letter.
This should be addressed to the supervisor of your USCIS jurisdiction. In your letter, give your personal and case information and write your questions in as few words as possible. Don’t overburden them with questions, as this could lead to them not answering any of them. And try to be polite, as hard as it can be. Your frustration is understandable, but it may only hurt your case.
This is not always successful, but sometimes cases get lost in the pile, and writing a letter can get someone back on your case. Responses can take a while to be sent, so give it some time before you decide that they aren’t going to answer your letter.
This step should not be taken lightly, and without the advice of a skilled immigration lawyer. If you feel that your case has not been considered, you can file a civil lawsuit against the government. In your lawsuit, you will ask a federal judge to order USCIS to review and make a decision on your case. The judge will weigh the evidence you present and determine if USCIS has exceeded a reasonable timeline in reviewing your application.
This can be a useful way of forcing USCIS to act. Often, USCIS will simply decide your case, rather than go to court, saving them time and money. And you’ll finally hear word on your case.
That, however, does not mean that a lawsuit is the best option for you. Although effective, it takes time, and it’s not cheap. There will be hours of legal fees, and the added stress of bringing a lawsuit against a government agency.
Strongly consider what you stand to gain versus the resources you will have to use. If a lawyer tells you that you’ll probably hear within the year, it may not be the best idea to file a lawsuit.
At Monument Immigration, we focus solely on immigration law. That means we have years of experience working on every type of immigration law, from visa applications to lawsuits against USCIS.
If you are having problems with your application, or considering taking legal action against the government, contact us. We offer free case evaluations so that you can make the best decision regarding your case.