Written by attorney Elizabeth Rose Blandon

Why Has My Case Been Pending So Long?

Let’s be honest. Applicants often complain that the Citizenship and Immigration Service is slow to process applications. This is due in large part to the high volume of cases they receive on a daily basis.

In some countries, attorneys expedite judicial matters for an additional fee. Sadly, such fees are used for corruption purposes. This is not the way business is done with the U.S. government. Regardless, a good attorney knows the proper ways to help speed along a case and prevent it from “slipping through the cracks." If a case has been pending too long, these are the available options:

First, make a service request phone call to Immigration. The receipt number must be provided to the officer. Typically, a brief status update is available on your case. If two or three service requests are made and Immigration still has not reached a decision, foreigners should escalate their concerns to the next level.

Second, make an in-person appointment, known as an INFOPASS. During an INFOPASS, the foreigner or their attorney can meet in person with an officer who should provide a more detailed status update. For instance, the officer will be able to track where the file is located and may be willing to give a time frame for a decision. If this proves unsuccessful, again, foreigners should escalate their cases.

Another option is to contact the office known as the Ombudsman. This office works with Immigration to help find a resolution to cases that have been pending for way too long. However, the Ombudsman requires that the foreigner have placed numerous service requests to Immigration and attended an in-person INFOPASS appointment.

How does a foreigner know if an application has been pending too long? The answer varies and certain applications have no set processing times. Immigration’s website has the processing timeframe for most applications, however. Other applications have a set time frame by law. For example, applications for work authorization should be processed within 90 days and an application for naturalization should be processed within 120 days after the interview.

Although the author is a Board-certified attorney, this communication is intended as general information and not specific legal advice. This communication does not create an attorney-client relationship. Consultation with an experienced immigration attorney is the best way to address individual concerns.

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