An Ombudsman is someone who investigates complaints or disputes against an institution and tries to resolve those complaints.
According to the Department of Homeland Security website, the USCIS Ombudsman’s formal purpose is to “serves as a liaison between the public and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).”
The Ombudsman’s office is not part of USCIS, but rather an independent office within the Department of Homeland Security set up to resolve problems with USCIS. The Ombudsman’s office works on general policy issues; however, they also help the public with specific case assistance requests.
Why Would I Need to Contact the Ombudsman’s Office?
Case Outside USCIS Published Processing Times: USCIS publishes processing times for every type of application that it processes. If USCIS is taking too long to process your application, then the USCIS Ombudsman may be able to assist you. To check processing times go to USCIS.gov and have your receipt notice in front of you. You’ll enter the form type and the service center that is adjudicating your case.
If your case is still within normal processing times then you cannot file an inquiry; however, if your case is outside processing times then you will be able to file an online inquiry (see below).
USCIS Mistake, Error, or Delay: If you feel that you are experiencing an emergency or hardship caused by USCIS mistake, error or delay, you can contact the Ombudsman’s office to seek a resolution to your problem.
Other Problems with Your Petition: If you have other problems with your petition, the Ombudsman’s office may be able to mediate a resolution. Other issues may include non-receipt of USCIS notices or decisions, ‘age-out’ issues, issues involving military personnel, improperly rejected applications; and issues regarding lost files.
Do not contact the Ombudsman’s office for the following:
- You need legal advice;
- You have an issue with another agency besides USCIS;
- You disagree with a USCIS decision, but you do cannot find a mistake or error in the process (i.e. you disagree with an application of the law);
- Denial of an expedite request;
- Your Congress person made a USCIS inquiry, and it has been less than 30 days.
The Ombudsman’s office can try to resolve issues on your behalf and recommend solutions to SUCIS; however, ultimately only USCIS can approve or deny applications.
Steps to Take Before Contacting the USCIS Ombudsman’s Office:
You must first try to resolve your issue with USCIS before contacting the Ombudsman’s office; the Ombudsman’s office requires that you provide evidence of all attempts to resolve the problem with USCIS.
Before contacting the Ombudsman’s office, you can try the following:
- If your case is outside of USCIS published processing, you did not receive a notice by mail, you did not receive your card by mail, you need appointment accommodations, or your document has a typographic error, then you can file an online case-inquiry. Typically, after submitting an online case inquiry you will see movement in your case. However, there are instances where the case inquiry does not resolve the problem. The next step is to contact the Ombudsman’s office and seek assistance in obtaining a resolution to your case.
- Call USCIS customer service;
- Schedule an INFO Pass Appointment;
- Contact your US Congressperson or Senator.
How Do I Contact the USCIS Ombudsman’s Office?
If none of the above resolve the problem, then you can contact the USCIS Omdurman’s office by filing Form DHS Form 7001.
You’ll want help with Form 7001, as it’s a complex form; additionally, you must submit evidence that you have made attempts to resolve the problem directly with USCIS.
Typically, the USCIS inquiries outlined above, and Ombudsman’s Office requests will resolve about 80% of problems. Sometimes it works, but sometimes it doesn’t; however, it’s always worth trying.
If this still doesn’t resolve your issue, your attorney will be able to assist you with other options.
Additional options are:
- Re-file an Ombudsman request.
- File a Federal Mandamus action, to force the government to make a decision in your case.
- Contact you Congress person or Senator.
If you or a family member have issues with a pending USICS case, please contact an immigration attorney who is trustworthy and knowledgeable! Our attorneys at Landerholm Immigration, APC, are experienced in resolving simple and complex issues with USCIS. Please feel free to call us at 510-488-1020 to see how we can help!