checking uscis case status

You’ve filled out the forms, paid the fees, have your USCIS receipt number, and now the waiting game begins. With backlogs, government interruptions, and changing policies, waiting can be stressful, but the best way to help ease that stress is by checking USCIS case status. Checking USCIS processing times is not only used to see how long certain cases are taking but to help predict how long your petition will take even before you submit an application.

With so many ways to check your USCIS case status, it is essential to know how to accurately verify your status to avoid further confusion and stress.

Table of Contents

  1. Checking USCIS Case Status Online
  2. Checking Your Case Status on the Phone
  3. Reviewing USCIS Processing Times
  4. How to Submit an Inquiry About Your Case
  5. How We Can Help

Checking USCIS Case Status Online

The easiest way to check your USCIS case status is online. Once you receive your I-797, you can check your status using the following steps.

  1. Visit the USCIS Case Status Online Tool 
  2. Enter the 13-digit USCIS receipt number
    1. Enter the number without the hyphens
  3. Click the “Check Status” button

 

 

If entered correctly, the next screen will show the status of your case.

 

Your I-797 states the USCIS receipt number and other important information that helps know your case status and who to contact. Your receipt number is in the top left-hand corner of your I-797.

In this I-797A example, you can find the USCIS receipt number in the top-left. The corresponding USCIS Field Office or Service Center will be at the bottom of the form.

Understanding the USCIS Receipt Number

Every letter or number in your USCIS receipt number is a specific identifier that is helpful for you to understand. To understand the different components, let’s create a fake receipt number that is SRC-20-013-12345.

The first three letters in the number identify the corresponding USCIS Field Office or Service Center for your case. The codes are as follows:

  • EAC or VSC: Vermont Service Center
  • LIN or NSC: Nebraska Service Center
  • SRC or TSC: Texas Service Center
  • WAC or CSC: California Service Center
  • NBC: National Benefits Center
  • MSC: Missouri Service Center
  • IOE: USCIS Electronic Immigration System
  • YSC: Potomac Service Center

In our example receipt number, our case is going through the Texas Service Center.

Your distance to a service center does not always dictate where your case will end up. The deciding factor is your type of case and the service center that processes the corresponding forms.  For instance, if you live in Vermont, but your petition is for an E-2 visa, your case will go through the California Service Center.

The two digits after the three letters dictate the fiscal year USCIS opened your case. In our example, our case was opened in the 2020 fiscal year. The fiscal year runs from October 1 through September 30 of the following year.

The following three digits indicate the computer workday that USCIS opened our case in the fiscal year. In our example, our case was opened on the 13th computer workday of the fiscal year.

The last five digits are your unique case number. In our example, our unique case number is 123245.

Checking You Case Status on the Phone

You will need your receipt number to check your USCIS case status through the phone.

To verify your status over the phone, you need to call 1-800-375-5283. When you call, the first thing you will hear is the operator asking if you would like to continue in Spanish. If you want to continue in Spanish, you need to press 2. If you want to continue in English, stay on the line.

After that, the automated system will let you know that call volume is high and will recommend visiting the website to see if your question can be answered with their tools. After the script, the system will let you know that it understands complete sentences and will ask you to describe what you need. You can simply say “Check Status,” and it will then ask you for your receipt number. You can either say your receipt number or enter it using the keypad. The system will repeat the number back to you to confirm and then tell you your case status. At that point, if you want to talk to an agent, it is nearly impossible as pressing 0 or any other key several times will not get you to an agent. If you have specific questions, it is best to ask your immigration attorney as they will likely be able to get you information quicker.

As of 2018, USCIS is no longer accepting emails inquiring about case status. However, a great way to receive updates on your case is to set up an account online with USCIS, where you will receive updates on all your cases.

Reviewing USCIS Processing Times

If you want to see how long USCIS is taking to process certain cases, you should visit their Processing Times page. If you’re looking at processing times before submitting your information, you can still look at each service center’s processing times to get an idea of how long you will likely have to wait for your case to be processed.

First, select the form that pertains to your case from the dropdown menu.

On the USCIS Processing Times page, you can select up to 40 USCIS forms to review.

After selecting the form, the tool will let you select your service center. Remember to check the first three letters of your receipt number to see which service center is processing your case.

In this example, we’ve selected form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative. Then we were able to select from five USCIS service centers.

The available service centers or field offices to choose from will depend on the form you select since not all service centers process all forms. For some forms, you might only see one or two options. For instance, the only option for form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Investor, is the Immigrant Investor Program Office.

After selecting the office, the tool will show you the processing times.

USCIS Processing Times for form I-130 at the California Service Center as of December 2020.

For the above example, we’re checking the USCIS processing time of the I-130 at the California Service Center. As you can see, the times vary on which relative you are sponsoring. As of December 2020, the processing time for a green card holder sponsoring a spouse or a child under 21 years is between 15.5 to 20 months if USCIS received the form on or after April 21, 2019. All the times are considered estimates.

The USCIS Processing Times page is updated once a month.

How to Submit an Inquiry About Your Case

If you want to submit another inquiry to USCIS, you can do so using the e-request tool.

Using this tool, you can only make the following inquiries:

  1. Case taking more than the normal processing time
  2. Did not receive a notice by mail
  3. Did not receive a card by mail
  4. Did not receive documents by mail

When submitting these inquiries online, you will need to provide information, including an email address, USCIS receipt number, type of petition, and date when you filed your petition, among other information.

How We Can Help

You’re likely to have a swifter and easier application process when you seek the advice of an immigration attorney. A good attorney will always keep you abreast of the latest information so that you don’t feel the need to check your USCIS case status or USCIS Processing Times every day. Our attorneys are known for their hands-on approach and familial service. They are always available to answer any questions about your application. To start your application or for any questions, you can seek consultation through our form.