The Office of the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman (CIS Ombudsman) assists individuals and employers in resolving difficulties they are experiencing with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This page covers what CIS can and cannot help with and how you can submit a request for case assistance with the office.
Before you request assistance from CIS, seek help from USCIS first. CIS office can bring issues to USCIS’ attention and recommend solutions, but only USCIS can approve or deny pending applications or petitions, including expedite requests. CIS is an independent office in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and are not part of USCIS.
This Video below is on how to request case assistance from the CIS office. This short video is meant to help applicants and petitioners understand when to submit a DHS Form 7001, which was updated on November 2, 2022.
Who can prepare and submit a request for case assistance?
- Individuals, employers, attorneys, and accredited representatives may submit a request. If you are an attorney or accredited representative, you need to include a Form G-28, Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Accredited Representative, for the representative registered with USCIS for the form you are seeking assistance on.
- Family members, congressional caseworkers, and others may help prepare the request for case assistance. However, you must include written consent from the applicant or petitioner.
Please note you must put the petitioner’s or applicant’s name as the person encountering difficulties with USCIS in Section 5 of the DHS Form 7001. Do not enter the beneficiary, attorney, or accredited representative.
The most common types of cases CIS can help with include:
- Non-receipt of USCIS notices or decisions, such as requests for evidence, appointment notices, or decisions even if USCIS systems indicate that it issued one, or instances where the U.S. Postal Service returned a card to USCIS as non-deliverable.
- Cases where the beneficiary may “age-out” of eligibility for the requested immigration benefit. See USCIS’ Child Status Protection Act (CSPA) webpage for additional information.
- Certain cases involving U.S. military personnel and their families.
- Applications and petitions that were improperly rejected by USCIS due to clear errors of fact or obvious misapplication of the relevant law by USCIS.
- Typographic errors in immigration documents.
- Cases where someone is in removal proceedings before the immigration court with a hearing scheduled within six months and has an application/petition pending before USCIS that could impact the outcome of removal proceedings.
- Lost files and/or file transfer problems between USCIS offices.
- Certain cases involving an emergency or a hardship that fall under USCIS expedite criteria.
- Priority-2 Direct Access Program.
- Systemic issues that should be given higher level review.
With few exceptions, CIS CANNOT help if:
- Your case is within published processing times unless there is a statutory or regulatory processing time requirement (such as Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant, for Special Immigrant Juveniles; Form N-400, Application for Naturalization; and Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, for L-1 petitions).
- There is no published processing time for the form type, and less than 6 months have passed since you filed your form with USCIS.
- You are seeking to change a decision made by USCIS unless the decision is based on a clear error.
- USCIS has denied an expedite request.
- You are seeking legal advice.
- You are seeking assistance with an issue that does not involve USCIS.
- It has been less than 30 calendar days since your congressional representative made an inquiry to USCIS.
CIS also CANNOT:
- Communicate with anyone other than the benefit requestor (the individual who signed the submitted form to USCIS) or the attorney without written consent from the benefit requestor. In addition, if you are applying, or applied, for T, U, VAWA, or refugee status and do not have an attorney or accredited representative, your address must match the address in USCIS systems; CIS can only communicate with you via U.S. postal mail to comply with the law and keep your case confidential.
- Urge USCIS to take action on a pending application, petition, or request.
- Fix actions resulting from bad information given by third parties, such as legal representatives or designated school officials (DSOs).
Please try to resolve your issues with USCIS first before submitting a request with the CIS office.
- Start by checking the status of your case:
- Check your case status online to see USCIS’ last action on your case.
- Check whether your case is outside of published processing times. To do so, go to USCIS’ Check Case Processing Times page and select your form and the appropriate field office or service center. Select the “Get Processing Time” button. Once the page updates, you will see a chart with a column titled “Receipt date for a case inquiry.” If your receipt date is earlier than the “Receipt date for a case inquiry,” your case is outside of the published processing times.
- Contact USCIS to try to resolve your issue. Here are some ways to do so:
- Submit an e-Request to USCIS if your case is beyond the published processing times. You can also submit an e-Request to check on appointment accommodations, typographic errors, or delayed delivery of documents, notices, or cards.
- You may also call the USCIS Contact Center at 1-800-375-5283. CIS has a USCIS Contact Center Tip Sheet on how to most effectively reach out to the USCIS Contact Center.
- If more than 30 business days have passed since your package was delivered to USCIS or since USCIS cashed your filing fee check(s) but you have not received a receipt notice, you may email the USCIS Lockbox at firstname.lastname@example.org. See our When to Contact a USCIS Lockbox Tip Sheet for more information.
- If you are a refugee applicant, email USCIS directly at email@example.com from your registered email address. You may also request case status information from the Resettlement Support Center in your region.
- If you have a T visa, U visa, or Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) case, please see the FAQs page for a list of USCIS emails and mailing addresses to contact about your case.
You can visit the USCIS Contact Us page for more information.