sooner or later, you’ll get a receipt notice from the USCIS service center in response to your first inquiry or in the normal course of processing. The notice will give you your receipt number, which you can use to check the USCIS website for information on its processing. Look at the upper-left box in the sample receipt notice below—you’ll see a number that begins “WAC.” Go to the USCIS website (www. uscis. gov), under “Hot Topics,” click “Case Status & Processing Dates.” Then click “online” under “Finding the Status of Your Case.” You’ll see a box for entering your number.
Even without using your receipt notice, the USCIS website can tell you whether they’re still dealing with applications filed earlier than yours—and therefore can’t be expected to decide on yours yet—or have moved on to applications filed after yours, in which case there’s a problem. On the home page (www. uscis. gov), under “Hot Topics,” click “Case Status & Processing Dates.” Then click “here” under “Obtaining a List of Processing Dates.” Choose your Service Center, click “Processing Dates,” and follow the instructions.
The service center won’t want to hear from you with more inquiries about your application until the number of processing days predicted on its website has passed. But if that date passes with no results, it’s time to write a letter like the one below.
If you hear nothing from USCIS after four weeks, write another, similar letter. Write another every two weeks until you get an answer. It’s best to start with very polite, short letters, and then get more insistent as time goes on. Be careful, however—-although eloquent and justified outrage may eventually get USCIS’s attention, never insult or threaten a government official. This will get you nowhere and, if your letter is interpreted as a threat, may lead to a criminal prosecution as well as a quick denial.
After all your paperwork is submitted, you’re ready for an interview—but you can’t predict how long it will take before your interview is scheduled. For interviews in the United States, waits of a
The USCIS service centers, where most initial visa petitions are decided, are a unique case. The good news is that these service centers have their own telephone information lines. The bad news is that after you spend many hours trying to get through, the person (or machine) who picks up the phone usually has no access to your file. usually, the most they will do is read from a computer screen, telling you that your case is pending. However, if the computer shows that the service center sent you a request for more documents or actually denied your case, the phone call will be worth the effort—but count on many hours of effort.