What happens After My Case Is Filed?
Author: New York Immigration lawyer Alena Shautsova
Have you wondered what happens to the papers you send to USCIS? How do they need to be arranged? Do you need to call USCIS to make sure they received your filing? How to write a check for the Immigration filing fees?
First, the case or filing has to be assembled in a certain way so that USCIS sorting facility personnel will not struggle with the package. It means that all the documents has to be in order; they should not be stapled together and, preferably should not be printed on a double side paper. On the top of your submission there should be a check or money order made to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (in most cases, for certain filings the recipient will be a different entity); then there will be pictures and a medical exam envelope (if you had to submit one). The documents should be easy to separate because all the submissions now get scanned. The person who is sorting out your submission is not the one who will make a decision on it. Often, the documents are sent to the lockbox address, and then the file is forwarded to the local office for adjudication.
Second, once the file is accepted, a filer should receive a paper notice confirming the receipt of the documents. That usually happens within 2 weeks of submission. If a fee was missing, or the check was not made to the right amount, the submission will be returned to the filer.
Third, in most cases, the filer will be called for fingerprinting procedure. This usually happens within a month of the filing. I prefer to rely on paper notices rather than online case status, but many of my clients like to check the status of their cases online using the receipt numbers they obtained with the notice confirming the filing.
The fourth step is waiting. The processing times for different filings vary and depend on the submission, the type of the case, the local office and how busy USCIS is in general. One may check approximate processing times on USCIS website, but the posted time frames are approximate and an individual case may be decided sooner or much later than the posted times.
Depending on a case, there can be an interview scheduled (usually in the case of adjustment of status, or I -751 , removal of condition, filings). Again, if one is invited for an interview, there will be a paper notice. The online case status update is not enough. Sometimes the online case status is wrong or mistaken (it happens), and it is best to rely on paper notices.
Once one appeared for an interview, the officer usually will take about two weeks to make a determination on the case. If everything is successful, a permanent resident card will be issued by mail, or a person will be scheduled for an Oath ceremony (again, it depends on particular process or application).