How to Check Your Immigration Status

Regardless of which method you have used to apply for immigration to the United States, you should expect to have to wait several weeks or even months to hear about any decision made on your case. And although these delays may be bothersome, they are quite ordinary and are no cause for alarm. Luckily, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has given applicants and petitioners several different ways to keep up with the progress of their cases.

If you have petitioned or applied for immigration benefits, the United States Department of Homeland Security allows you to see how far along in the application process your case is. In fact, it is a good idea to check occasionally for updates so that you have the most current information about your petition or application.

Video — Check your immigration status online

Nine Steps to Your Immigration Goal

According to the USCIS, there are 9 steps in the process that applications and petitions may go through, although each application and petition may not necessarily spend a lot of time in each step. Additionally, each person’s application or petition may not spend the same amount of time in one step as another person’s. When you receive an update from USCIS about the status of your application, one of the following 9 steps will be referenced. Those 9 steps include:

  1. Application;
  2. Initial Review;
  3. Request for Evidence;
  4. Request for Evidence Response Interview;
  5. Testing and Interview;
  6. Decision;
  7. Post Decision Activity;
  8. Oath Ceremony;
  9. Card and/or Document Production.

Current USCIS Processing Times

Every month the USCIS puts out a report that lets applicants and petitioners know what the current processing times are for all documents. The processing dates are representative of the dates of receipts of applications and petitions being processed at that time by USCIS Service Centers in California, Nebraska, Texas, and Vermont, as well as USCIS field offices and the National Benefits Center. You can find this report online at the USCIS website.

If any type of application is being processed inside of the USCIS goal time frame, that time frame will be indicated. For instance, the USCIS strives to process I-131, Travel Document applications in 3 months or less. If the service center is currently completing those applications within that time frame, the processing report will so indicate.

If a USCIS service center has a backlog of applications for I-131, it will post a date rather than a time frame. So, if they cannot currently process an I-131 in 3 months, you will see a date, such as October 1, 2016, that indicates the receipt date of those applications and petitions that are being processed at the current time.

The USCIS receives approximately 6 million petitions and applications every year from employers and individuals, and occasionally papers do get lost or misplaced. To avoid additional delays in the processing of your application caused by missing or lost paperwork, follow these tips:

  • Photocopy everything before you mail it;
  • Send your applications via a method that can be tracked;
  • Don’t send anything that can’t be replaced.

Monitoring the Progress of Your Application or Petition

Over the years, USCIS has upgraded its system, maximizing advances in technology to give immigrants a variety of ways to keep up with the status of their application and monitor its progress. There are several ways that you can check on your application or petition, including:

  • Online;
  • Email;
  • Phone;
  • Text Message;
  • Mail;
  • In person.

Checking Your Immigration Status Online

At any time, you can go to the USCIS website to check the status of your case, if you have your 13-character Application Receipt Number. To monitor the progress of your immigration case online, you will also need access to a computer and an Internet connection. To check on the status of your application or petition this way, visit the USCIS ‘My Case Status’ search page and enter your number. The number is found on the application notices you get from the USCIS and consists of 13 characters. The receipt number has three letters at the beginning. These three letters will be EAC, SRC, LIN, or WAC. When you are typing your number into the web page boxes, be sure to leave out the dashes. You should, however, enter all other characters, including asterisks (*) if they are part of your receipt number as listed on your notice. Once you have entered your application receipt number on the website, seven circles will appear on your screen. The highlighted one will indicate to you which step of the process your application or petition is currently in. If, for any reason, you did not get a receipt number when you submitted your application, you should call the USCIS Customer Service Center.

Complete your immigration paperwork using our online software. We make it easy!

Complete your immigration paperwork using our online software. We make it easy!

Checking Your Immigration Status via Email

If your case is being evaluated at a USCIS service center, you have the option of requesting information by email. From the USCIS website, click on the “Contact Us” link and send an email to one of the email addresses shown there. In your email, include all important information about your case, including the name of the petitioner and the beneficiary, your case filing date, and if your check for the filing fee has been cashed by USCIS or not. Keep the tone and wording of your email polite and request the information you need.

Checking Your Immigration Status by Phone

If you do not have access to the internet, you can always check the status of your immigration case by phone. The USCIS National Customer Service Center is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. in all four time zones in the continental U.S. You will be able to receive live assistance during these times only. However, automated information about the status of your case is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

To access this information from USCIS, dial 1-800-375-5283 and follow these directions:

  • Select ‘1’ to continue the call in English;
  • Select ‘1’ for immigration services;
  • Select ‘1’ to find out the status of an application;
  • Select ‘1’ if you have your receipt number;
  • Enter the 13-character number found on your receipt- use the numbers that correspond to the letters in your case number, 546 for LIN for instance, and ignore dashes;
  • Select ‘1’ to confirm your entry;
  • Listen carefully to find out the status of your case.

If you need to speak with a USCIS customer service representative, you may do so from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. local time in most places. If you have a specific question about your case, you can call 1-800-375-5283 and follow these steps:

  • Select ‘1’ to continue the call in English;
  • Select ‘1’ for immigration services;
  • Select ‘1’ to find out the status of your application;
  • Select ‘2’ if you do not have your receipt number;
  • Select ‘2’ to be connected with a USCIS officer.

Customer service representatives are not immigration officers and will only be able to give you limited information- usually not much more than the same status the automated system can give you. They can, however, help you place an official inquiry if your case has been pending for too long (i.e. longer than 30 days beyond the listed USCIS processing dates). Depending on how busy CSR operators are, you may be on hold from a few minutes to an hour or more.

Checking Your Immigration Status via Text Message

A new pilot program initiated by USCIS, now allows applicants to check the status of their case by receiving text messages when a case status update has taken place. If you have a United States mobile phone number, you can register online to receive updates this way. All USCIS customers and their representatives (i.e. immigration attorneys, corporations, charitable groups, and other sponsors) are all eligible to use this service.

Checking Your Immigration Status by Mail

If you have filed your application or petition at a local USCIS Field office, you can request updated information about your case via mail. When you send your letter, be sure to give all personal information including your full name, your date of birth, your alien number (if applicable), the date and location your application or petition was filed, and your receipt number if you have received one. It is also advisable to include a photocopy of your application receipt notice.

Checking Your Immigration Status in Person

USCIS online offers a free service known as InfoPass that allows you to schedule appointments. You can schedule an InfoPass appointment if you would rather find out the status of your case in person. This online service is available in 12 languages, making the process of scheduling an appointment convenient for most everyone.

To schedule an appointment with an immigration officer at your local field office, visit the InfoPass homepage and follow these instructions:

  • Choose your preferred language;
  • Select “Make an Appointment or Cancel an Appointment”;
  • Select your country of residence or enter your U.S. zip code;
  • Select “Continue”;
  • Choose the reason you want an appointment;
  • Enter your personal information, including name, birth date, phone number, and zip code;
  • Choose a preferred date for your appointment;
  • Make your appointment. When the Electronic Appointment Notice appears on the screen, print it or write down the date, time, and location of your appointment as well as the appointment notice receipt number. Additional instructions may be listed for your appointment, including documents to bring. Typically, you can make an appointment within a two-week period.

Some personal or USCIS documents that you may need to take to your appointment include:

  • the appointment notice;
  • any pertinent USCIS forms, original documents, translations, or receipts;
  • photo identification (i.e. passport, driver’s license, military card, Employment Authorization Document, or other government-issued identification).

If you made an appointment online or by phone and need to cancel it for any reason, you may do so easily through InfoPass. Access the InfoPass homepage and choose your preferred language, then choose the second option that says, “Click Here – Cancel your appointment with InfoPass.”

Create an Account to Receive Automatic Updates

Creating an account on the USCIS website is free and gives you the ability to track the progress of your case and view the history of most of the petitions and applications you have filed. From the USCIS homepage, click the option that says “Check your Case Status.” Then click the light blue button that says “Sign Up.” After you accept the USCIS Terms and Conditions, you will be required to select an account type and answer some personal and security questions.

You can register to receive automatic updates about your case status via email. To begin receiving automatic electronic notifications about your case, you will need to create an account online with USCIS. You can do this by visiting the USCIS website and clicking the link to create an account. You will then register as an applicant customer and accept their terms of service to continue.

Click on the link “Add a Case to Your Portfolio” and enter your receipt number. You will have the opportunity to add more receipt numbers, if you want. Once you have entered all the receipt numbers for the cases you are wanting to receive updates for, you can select text message alerts, email alerts, or both for all pending applications. To request notifications by email for a certain case, select the box located to the left of that application receipt number and click the button that says “Email Alert On.” You can stop receiving email notifications about a particular case at any time by selecting the box to the left of that application receipt number and clicking the button labeled “Email Alert Off.” To start receiving notifications via text message about a case, select the box to the left of that application receipt number and click on the button that says “Mobile Alert On.” To quit receiving notifications via text message at any time, you should select the box to the left of the corresponding application receipt number and click the button labeled “Mobile Alert Off.” It is important to note that notifications by text message can only be sent to the U.S.-based mobile phone number you listed on your account. Additionally, standard text messaging rates may apply for these notifications and that by accepting the USCIS terms of use, you agree to pay these charges.

To avoid interruption in your automatic notifications via email or text message, be sure to keep your email address and mobile phone number current in your account information.

What Should I do if I Can’t Get the Information I’m Looking For?

If you have exhausted all other methods for checking the status of your case and are not getting any information, you may need to consult an immigration attorney for assistance. He or she will have ways of getting in touch with someone at USCIS that you don’t.

Complete your immigration paperwork using our online software. We make it easy!

Complete your immigration paperwork using our online software. We make it easy!

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