Online Tools to Decrease Wait Times in Immigration During COVID
Owing to the pandemic, federal immigration agencies are facing significant delays in processing various immigration applications. On January 8, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) acknowledged delays in processing as the result of COVID-19 restrictions, increases in filings, and current postal service volume and other factors. USCIS announced that it was experiencing increased wait times in scheduling or rescheduling immigration appointments at the local Application Support Centers (ASC).
Significance of USCIS Receipt Notices
USCIS issues a receipt notice for every immigration application or petition filed in its office. The receipt notice acts as a confirmation that the petition has been filed with USCIS and is undergoing processing. These receipt notices enable applicants to track their case status and act as proof to many agencies that the immigrant has a pending application.
Receipt notices are typically mailed within 30 days, but currently, there is a delay of four to six weeks in receiving a receipt notice after the applicant has filed the application or petition at a USCIS lockbox.
How to Decrease Immigration Wait Times
USCIS has many online resources that immigrants can use to significantly decrease waiting times for receipt notices. Some are as follows:
Filing Online – Some immigration forms can be filed electronically in the USCIS secure online filing system; filing through this online system immediately generates a confirmation receipt
Create a USCIS Online Account – Attorneys, applicants, or representatives can open https://myaccount.uscis.gov/; this is another secure way for immigrants to submit their applications and review the status of the case
Form G-1145, Request for Text Message or E-Mail – USCIS advises applicants to attach to their applications the Form G-1145, an E-Notification of Application/Petition; USCIS will text and/or email the immigrant the case status information
Tips for Submitting Evidence With Applications
The USCIS Public Engagement Division announced a few tips that applicants can use, to avoid incomplete submissions and improper filing. USCIS can reject any application or petition that is improperly filed. The Agency suggests the following:
Review the form instructions and checklist of required initial evidence on the form webpage
Submit single-sided photocopies of requested documents; do not submit the original document unless the form specifically requests it
Except for passport photos, which must be sent in the original, copy all other photographs must be copied on an 8.5” x 11” sheet of paper, instead of sending originals
Submit only required evidence and supporting documents, as the agency can request additional documents if necessaryAdvertisement