Once you have determined that USCIS or a consulate is taking longer than it should to act on your immigration petition or application—as described in When Should You Start Asking About Delays in Getting Your Green Card Approval—the question becomes, what you can do about it?
Your best course of action depends on where your application is; that is, whether it's held up at:
If any office of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has your application, and it has been there beyond the normal processing time, the main way to make an inquiry is through the USCIS Contact Center. It's open Monday through Friday only, and users report greater success when placing calls early in the week and early in the day.
Unfortunately, getting to talk to a live person at the Contact Center can be a struggle. The system is set up to operate via an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system, and provide recorded information for most anything you inquire about. (Saying words like "live agent" or "operator" won't help, either.) Often the best a caller can do is place a request for a call back.
Exactly when you'll be called back depends on how urgent your inquiry seemed to be. Seven business days has become the norm for regular inquiries. More urgent ones should receive a call-back within 48 hours. In preparation for the call, double check that sure your phone isn't set to block unknown callers..
Eventually, the USCIS officer you speak to through the Contact Center might schedule an in-person appointment for you, if that's the only way to deal with your issue.
It's also possible that the USCIS officer will be able to resolve your case problem then and there. More likely, however, the officer will take information from you and begin an inquiry process, then let you know when to expect a response. Be sure to make a note of the date you call and the case referral number the representative gives you.
If you do not have a response within 30 days of your call, send an email to the Service Center that has your application or petition. You'll find the email address on the USCIS website. Reference your case referral number and the date you called. Also provide your name and the type of petition or application you filed, such as an I-130 or I-485.
If you do not get a response to your follow-up email within 21 days, get in touch with the USCIS Ombudsman.
The least useful course of action is to write a letter to USCIS. You are unlikely to get a response, except perhaps a boilerplate letter suggesting that you call the Contact Center. The one exception is if you were already interviewed and were told that you should expect to receive a decision by mail. In this situation, you can write directly to the office where you were interviewed and ask for a decision on your case.
Although you might feel frustrated by delays, remember to be polite. The officer with whom you are speaking is not the one who caused your delay; in fact, this officer is the one you are relying on to help you. You might be justifiably outraged by USCIS's action or inaction, but never insult or threaten the officer with whom you are speaking. At best, such behavior is never helpful; at worst, it could be interpreted as a threat, which could lead to criminal prosecution as well as a quick denial.
If the NVC delays in sending your case to the U.S. consulate in your home country, you can submit a case-specific inquiry to the NVC. Be ready with your NVC case number, which you'll find on all correspondence from the NVC.
If your case is delayed at the consulate after the interview, you will need to find out how that particular consulate prefers to receive inquiries. The possibilities are visiting, calling, or writing a letter. Be sure to provide your NVC case number.
An experienced attorney will have plenty of experience dealing with delays by USCIS or the U.S. consulate, and can assist with the task of getting your case back on track.
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