You’ve filed an application for benefits, had your biometrics (fingerprints) taken, and now you are awaiting a decision. Waiting is one of the most challenging parts of the immigration processes. Everyone wants a quick decision in their case, and the waiting can lead to anxiety about the future. How can you tell if your application has been pending longer than ‘normal?’

The first thing to do is to check the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services’ (USCIS) published processing times. The processing times can be found here: You’ll need to know what form you filed, when you filed it, and what service center is processing your application; you can find this information on your receipt notice. For example, let’s say you filed form I-90, at the Potomac Service Center, on January 1, 2019, and it’s now December 1, 2019.

First, you’ll input the form number and the service center, and the system will give you an ‘estimated time range;’ in the case of the I-90 at Potomac its 11.5-12 months. This means that USCIS has 11.5-12 months to process your application before you can submit an inquiry about your case. Below the ‘estimate time range,’ the system will give you a ‘receipt date for a case inquiry;’ in our example, it’s January 10, 2019. This means that if you filed your application before January 10, 2019, you could file an inquiry. If you submitted your petition after that date, you’d have to wait a little longer before you can inquire about your case. You can find your date of filing, known as the ‘priority date’ in the upper left-hand corner of your receipt notice. You can find your service center at the bottom of the receipt notice.

If your application is not listed in the dropdown menu, then the default processing time is six months.

What Are My Options if USCIS is Outside the Published Processing Times?

  1. The first step is to file an online inquiry, which you can do here. After you submit the inquiry, you’ll receive an email with a ‘case number’ and a date by which USCIS should respond to you. You’ll need the following information to complete the inquiry:
  • Form Number
  • Receipt Number
  • Date of Filing
  • Applicant or Petitioner’s name
  • Applicant or Petitioner’s date of birth
  • Applicant or Petitioner’s complete mailing address
  • A description of the last activity on the case, and
  • A valid email address
  1. Alternatively, you can call USCIS’ Contact Center and submit an inquiry over the phone.
  1. The second step that you can take is to set up an INFOPASS appointment. This is an in-person appointment at a USCIS field office to speak with an officer about your case. To set up an appointment within the United States call 800-375-5283. If you are outside of the U.S. call 212-620-3418.
  1. Lastly, if filing an inquiry with USCIS does not result in movement in your case, you can file an inquiry with the USCIS Ombudsman’s office. The Ombudsman’s office is a customer service entity of sorts that endeavors to resolve issues with pending cases. To use the Ombudsman’s office, you should have tried the above three options first and wait 60 days past USCIS’ published processing times.

If you would like information about investigating a case that has been pending for a long time and is outside of the USCIS published processing times, please contact an immigration attorney who is trustworthy, knowledgeable, and experienced! Our attorneys at Landerholm Immigration, APC, are experienced in investigating and resolving processing time issues. Please feel free to call us at (510) 491-0291 to see how we can help!