It is not supposed to be like this. After all, your tax dollars pay the salaries of the people running the immigration service, USCIS. Immigration officers are paid to adjudicate cases and regulations require them to do so in a timely and efficient manner. Instead, when trying to get information on the status of your case, all you get is (a) delay, (b) no explanation, (c) the runaround or (d) all of the above.
Some cases go very smoothly at USCIS, but those are the easy ones. What about the thousands of people who wait month after month, or year after year, to get some answers on their application for lawful permanent resident status (“green card”) or naturalization (“citizenship”)? Certainly sitting around and doing nothing is not an option. But what real options are out there for someone in your situation?
Here are some ways that people try to get their immigration case moving:
- Check status of their case online. USCIS remains a very paper-heavy organization and their online presence is not very satisfactory. While USCIS says that you can check status of a case by clicking here, the answers provided usually tell you nothing new and simply restate the last date of contact that you had with the agency.
- Call the USCIS 1-800 number ((800) 375-5283). These calls can be a complete waste of time. Frequently, the USCIS operator reads to you the information that you already read yourself on the USCIS website. The only thing these calls do is get you frustrated for hanging on the line for minutes or hours. You may get a reply letter from USCIS, but this letter usually states the fact that you called USCIS on the day that you called them. But of course you already knew that. The letter frequently asks you to give USCIS another 60 or 90 days before contacting them again.
- InfoPass. As you probably know, you can no longer simply show up at the USCIS office at a time that works for you. Instead, the immigration service has an online system called InfoPass which allows you to make a scheduled appointment. People frequently find these appointments pointless because it seems as if the agent punches in your case number and reads you back the information that you read yourself online and which the phone operator on the 1-800 number told you.
- Sending letters to USCIS. This tactic does not usually work either. Many times the letter gets routed to the wrong office or never catches up to your file. In our experience, the USCIS officers do not actually respond to the letters and the letters generally have little to no effect on the speed of your citizenship or green card case.
- Help from a member of Congress. Some people contact their Senator or Representative. In fairness, this effort sometimes works. But our clients tell us that just as USCIS ignores them, they usually ignore the member of Congress as well. They may send a reply letter, but the reply letter usually tells the member of Congress, in very polite terms, that USCIS will decide the case on their own schedule. It should also be noted that if you are applying for naturalization or a green card, you are by definition a non-citizen which means that you cannot vote for the member of Congress so you can imagine where your request falls on the Congressperson’s priority list.
So after months or years of immigration delay, is there anything that can be done to make USCIS decide a case? In many cases, there is one option that very few individuals or lawyers are willing to take. To find out more about how we can help you with immigration delay litigation, please fill out our online contact form or call us at 314-961-8200.