When you submit your paperwork to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), you can expect the agency to review your paperwork and supporting evidence, assess your qualifications, and take other steps to determine if they will approve you.
Still, many people log online, see a status update, and think, “Help! My case is being actively reviewed by USCIS!” If this happens to you, do not worry. It is all a part of the evaluation process, and there is no need to panic. The wait can be stressful, and it is easy to lose patience or get worried, but this status just means you will need to wait a bit longer. An immigration lawyer can bring some peace of mind to this process.
Understanding the Process of USCIS Review
When you submit your forms and supporting information to USCIS, the process begins. Once the information arrives, your initial status generally indicates that the application was received. Before USCIS can start evaluating your case, it will need to:
- Create your file
- Do other initial work
- Assign the team who will handle the case
Only once the assigned team or staff member receives the file will it go into active review—this is when you will receive this status update. During the review, the team will go over your paperwork to get an initial impression of your case. They also evaluate the evidence and any supporting documents you included to determine if they will need to request more information. All of this occurs during the “active review” phase and is a normal part of the process.
How Long does the USCIS Review Process Take?
USCIS must thoroughly review your case before deciding whether to approve or deny you. Unfortunately, this active review stage begins when the assigned reviewer receives your file and lasts until they request more information or make a decision. Depending on the circumstances, this could last for weeks, months, or longer. You can check your estimated processing time on the USCIS website.
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How do I Get My USCIS Case Status?
You can track your filing status online using the USCIS Case Status online tracking tool. This website will allow you to keep tabs on your paperwork and where it is in the process. It will also notify you when USCIS needs more information from you or when the agency approves your case. You may even find out days sooner by tracking your case online.
You received a receipt number when you filed your petition or application. This number is what you will use to view the tracker. Possible statuses include:
- Received or accepted
- Under active review
- Request for additional evidence sent
Depending on the process and requirements for your particular filing, additional steps may be necessary, such as biometrics or an interview. If you are working with an immigration attorney from our firm, we can also help you understand the process and explain your case status.
Why does It Take So Long to Get a Decision from USCIS?
According to the Federal Register, it can take 15 minutes to several hours to review a case and the accompanying documentation. Some applications or petitions are much easier to assess than others, and some are also prioritized over others. In addition, certain locations are better staffed than others. Some teams could also work faster than others.
In general, USCIS will only spend half an hour to an hour on most filings. However, the agency receives thousands of cases a day, and this backlog often causes additional delays. When considered together, all these factors explain why it could take weeks, months, or even years to get results.
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Can I Hire an Immigration Attorney After Filing My Paperwork?
If you have concerns about your application or petition, it may be a good idea to schedule a strategic session with an immigration law firm. You can hire an attorney before or after you submit your request. However, many people decide to contact a lawyer before they begin or wait until they run into an issue to enlist legal help.
Hiring an immigration lawyer from our firm ensures you have an advocate on your side throughout this process. We can offer advice about your options and represent you if you face removal hearings or other serious concerns.
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Speak with an Immigration Lawyer About Your Situation Today
At New Frontier Immigration Law, many of our immigration professionals have been where you are, giving us unique insight into your situation. That’s why we take a compassionate approach – we want to help you better your life and the life of your family through immigration relief.
We offer immigrants living and working in the United States strategic sessions to discuss their options. Our focus is on keeping families together by fighting removal, but we also support immigrants pursuing legal status in other ways. Call (623) 235-8649 now to schedule your strategy session with our team.