A blog about U.S. immigration matters by Paul Szeto, a former INS attorney and an experienced immigration lawyer. We serve clients in all U.S. states and overseas countries. (All information is not legal advice and is subject to change without prior notice.)

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Tuesday, December 15, 2020

USCIS Delay in Issuing Application Filing Receipts

After an application is filed with US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), the agency issues a filing receipt notice (Form I-797C, Notice of Action) to acknowledge receipt of the application and filing fees. The filing receipts also contain important information such as the priority date of the application, the case receipt number, and other information about the applicant (such as name, date/place of birth, etc.).  

For the past few months, applicants have experienced delays in receiving their receipt notices from USCIS, most notably with the I-485 applications.  

In a recent announcement, USCIS has acknowledged the immense processing delays in applications sent to lockbox facilities these past weeks. The delays come as no surprise, given the long-awaited shift in EB India and China priority dates in October and the resulting influx of I-485 applications.  The ongoing pandemic of COVID has also significantly reduced the processing capacity of USCIS.

USCIS provides some filing tips for reducing wait time.

One quick way to file and get an immediate receipt number is to do so online.  However, this option is only available to N-400, I-90, and I-130 applicants.  There are also other restrictions with online filing.  

If you want to confirm that your application has been received by USCIS, complete Form G-1145 E-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance and put it on top of your application. G-1145 is a brief form that takes your email address and phone number so that you can receive a quick text notification when your application is received. Note, however, that this option is available only for applications that are filed with the USCIS lockboxes.

The way we organize the documents also affects how long it takes to process the application. USCIS states that forms and copies of documents should be printed one-sided, unless it is an original document.  Do not submit original documents unless they are specifically requested by USCIS.  Submitted photos, often used as evidence in family-based petitions, should be printed out on 8.5" x 11" paper instead of sent as is. Passport-sized photos are the exception and should be sent as originals. 

It is also extremely important to submit the necessary documents and evidence based on the application requirements.  One must understand the legal requirements for each application and follow form instructions and submit correct and necessary information and documents.  Applicants will be rejected if incorrect or insufficient fees and/or documents are submitted.  Since many immigration applications are time-sensitive, one may lose eligibility for a benefit if his or her application is rejected.  Do not hesitate to seek professional advice from a qualified immigration attorney when in doubt. 

(Immigration laws and policies change regularly.  If you have any questions regarding this article, please visit www.1visa1.com to schedule legal consultation.) 

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