One of the more frustrating things in applying for an immigration benefit is not knowing how long it will take U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to act on your case. Quality customer service also has been lacking in recent years. In following President Biden’s directive to make the immigration system more easily accessible, USCIS has worked diligently to provide greater transparency in processing times and tools to address basic requests such as rescheduling an appointment. Several initiatives have gone online in recent months and more are planned or being developed.
To provide a more useful, even if not completely accurate, way to see what is happening with an immigration case, USCIS launched the “myProgress” feature in online accounts this summer. This is for a case that you submitted online or by paper and later added it to your online account. It’s currently available only to individuals in their accounts and not in attorney or accredited representative accounts. Based upon historical data and machine learning, myProgress will provide a visual representation of where a case is in the overall process and an estimate for when you can expect a decision. USCIS has been clear that this is no guarantee of the timeline, but it is meant to offer a more realistic and easier-to-understand report on what’s happening with your case.
To make it easier to reschedule a biometrics (fingerprint and photo) appointment, USCIS now has a rescheduling feature in online accounts. You must have a good reason, such as illness or work conflict, and request the new appointment before your currently scheduled appointment. USCIS aims to review and approve or deny the request within two days. If approved, the new appointment notice will be in the “Notices” tab in your account.
For other appointments, such as requesting a so-called ADIT stamp in your passport as evidence of lawful permanent resident status, you can make this request in the Tools section on the main USCIS website, uscis.gov. You’ll need to provide your information and reason for the appointment.
As a customer service enhancement measure, USCIS now offers a “text ahead” option when requesting a return call from an information officer. It has been frustratingly common in recent years for the return call to occur after business hours, when the individual applicant or attorney either is not available or does not have the case information needed to verify identity for security measures. During an initial call, the customer contact representative will ask if you would like to receive a text message before the return call. If yes, USCIS will send a text message 30 minutes before the call. You will have one hour to respond to the text. Once you do, you should receive the call within 30 minutes.
With any such measures, the proof will be in the pudding to see how effective and reliable these measures actually are. It is encouraging nonetheless to see a concerted effort to return to a customer-oriented mission. USCIS is on the right track.