USCIS Lawyer

It is not uncommon for USCIS immigration applications to get “stuck” in the system and mired in red tape. These delays can be incredibly frustrating for applicants waiting for answers. 

The Office of the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman was created in 2002 to fix systemic immigration issues and help individuals and employers resolve specific cases and complaints. If you cannot find answers with USCIS, the next step is to request help from the Ombudsman’s Office. 

Here, immigration lawyer Kathleen Martinez walks you through this process and offers tips to help you reach a resolution for your immigration law matter. 

We can help you get a non-immigrant visa! Book a virtual consultation today.

USCIS Ombudsman

In 2002, Congress created the Ombudsmen’s Office as part of the Homeland Security Act. The Office of the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman (CIS Ombudsman) serves as a liaison between the public and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). 

CIS Ombudsman reports to the Department of Homeland Security and acts independently of USCIS. That means ombudsman cannot approve or deny USCIS decisions, and they cannot provide legal advice. However, they can help with specific case requests. 

Types of Assistance CIS Ombudsman Can Provide 

Filing a request for CIS Ombudsman assistance is typically a last resort and should only be pursued after you have tried to resolve the issue through USCIS customer support channels

If we cannot reach a resolution by contacting USCIS, it may be time to elevate your case to the Ombudsman’s Office. 

Here are some situations where CIS Ombudsman may be helpful: 

  • Delays: cases that are taking longer than the standard processing time to be resolved 
  • Incorrectly rejected applications: denied applications and petitions based on factual errors or misapplication of immigration laws 
  • Non-receipt of USCIS notices or decisions: including appointment notices, requests for documents, and final USCIS decisions on cases 
  • Mistakes and errors: cases causing hardship due to misprints, lost files, mailing problems, and other issues 
  • Applicants at risk of aging out: lengthy processing times may cause applicants to lose out on eligibility for certain immigration benefits 
  • Cases involving removal proceedings: where the outcome of a pending USCIS application may impact their removal 
  • Hardship and emergency situations: cases that fall under the criteria for expediting applications and petitions
  • Cases involving military personnel and their families: including noncitizen service members and veterans
  • Priority-2 Direct Access Program: cases pertaining to those who sacrificed in support of U.S interests including Iraqis who served alongside the U.S. military 

We can help you get a non-immigrant visa! Book a virtual consultation today.

Are There Limits to What Ombudsman Can Do? 

Yes. The role of CIS Ombudsman is often confused with USCIS customer service. CIS Ombudsman cannot help with: 

  • Legal counsel 
  • Denials of expedited requests 
  • Disagreements with a USCIS decision
  • Correcting misinformation provided by third parties 
  • Issues with departments and agencies outside of USCIS 

What to Do Before Requesting Ombudsman Assistance

The Ombudsman’s Office prefers that applicants to seek resolution through other channels before asking them to intervene. This allows them to focus their efforts on clients that truly need help. 

Check Your Processing Time and Case Status 

The USCIS publishes processing times for several types of applications online. Before you contact the Ombudsman’s Office, check the processing time on your application. Typically, you cannot request Ombudsman help unless your case is taking longer than the provided processing time. 

Remember, there are exceptions where time is of the essence, such as in cases where an applicant is facing removal or close to aging out for certain immigration benefits. After reviewing your situation, I can determine if it makes sense to request Ombudsman assistance while USCIS is still processing your application. 

Next, log in to your online USCIS account for the status of your application and any recent actions on your case. Your USCIS lawyer can look up your case and provide clarification on any recent changes. 

We can help you get a non-immigrant visa! Book a virtual consultation today.

USCIS Case Inquiry  

You can also try to resolve your issue through USCIS customer service. As we have already mentioned, Ombudsman assistance is typically a last resort when applicants get answers through other methods. 

However, talking to a live person at USCIS can be a struggle. The system is set up to use an Interactive Voice Response and provide recorded information for a set number of predetermined queries. 

People who speak English as a second language or those who have an accent that the system has problems with can be frustrated with the experience. The stress this causes, when combined with the time spent without answers can be immense. 

Determining Your USCIS Inquiry Status 

When you eventually get a person on the phone, you will be speaking to a Tier 1 contact, someone who can only handle the broadest of queries. A best-case scenario is that they collect your information, and you receive a call-back from a Tier 2 officer. 

How to Request Case Assistance from CIS Ombudsman 

If you cannot get answers about your case through USCIS, or your case has gone beyond the “normal processing time,” a request for Ombudsman assistance may be necessary. This is a three-step process. 

1. Complete the DHS Form 7001 Pre-Submission Checklist

The online case assistance form times out after 20 minutes of inactivity. So, it’s helpful to have all your documents and case receipt numbers ready before you start. The DHS Form 7001 checklist is a detailed rundown of everything you need before you access the online form. Review this with your USCIS lawyer and let them know if you have any questions or are missing any information. 

We can help you get a non-immigrant visa! Book a virtual consultation today.

2. Submit DHS Form 7001

Next, submit the completed DHS Form 7001 Request for Case Assistance online. This allows the Ombudsman’s Office to process your request more efficiently. If you do not have access to a computer or internet services, your USCIS lawyer can help. 

Although online is the preferred method, you can also email your form to [email protected], fax it to 202-357-0042, or send it via U.S. Mail to: 

Office of the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman

Department of Homeland Security

Mailstop 0180

Washington, D.C. 20528

Online submissions receive an automated email confirmation that contains a CIS Ombudsman request number. If you submitted your form online or via email but are having trouble uploading your supporting documents, make sure to include that request number when you send your correspondence. 

If you send your form in the mail, you’ll receive an email or letter with your CIS Ombudsman request number once your case information has been entered into the system. 

3. Wait for a Response  

Unless your situation changes, there’s nothing more you need to do. The CIS Ombudsman will reach out to USCIS to resolve any discrepancies or delays affecting your application. You will be notified they are unable to contact USCIS or help with your situation. Otherwise, they will notify you after receiving a response from USCIS. 

While the Ombudsman’s Office can resolve most immigration problems, they cannot fix them all. Discuss your options with your USCIS lawyer If this happens to you. You may be able to re-submit a request for help, contact a lawmaker in your area to intervene, or take legal action to compel the government to act.

We can help you get a non-immigrant visa! Book a virtual consultation today.

Contact a USCIS Lawyer for Help with Case Inquiries 

Whether you need to contact USCIS directly for a mistake or delay with your application, or it is time to elevate your case to CIS Ombudsman, a USCIS lawyer can help. At Martinez Immigration, we know that waiting for a decision is downright painful. We help you navigate the inquiry process and expedite your application whenever possible. 

We speak several languages and provide virtual immigration law services to clients across the United States. Our entire team is committed to protecting our clients’ rights and reuniting their families. Call us today or connect online to book a virtual consultation today. 

We got you covered!

No Matter What your immigration needs or questions are…

We take great pride in providing immigration services to our clients. Our mission to reunite families drives us to succeed.

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