How to check your USCIS case status
If you’ve submitted an application to US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the outcome of that application is going to impact on your plans to travel to the US. Checking your USCIS case status can help you keep informed on your application’s progress and to understand when you are likely to receive a final decision, or if delays are likely.
The following guide looks at how you can check your USCIS case status, with an overview of the different types of status updates that you may be sent, plus the processing times involved.
How do I check my USCIS case status online?
When making an application to USCIS, you will inevitably want to check the most recent status of its decision-making on a regular basis. This could be an application for an employment-based petition made on your behalf by a US business to enable you to apply for a visa from overseas, or a petition filed by your US spouse or fiancé(e) to enable you to obtain a visa to travel to the US to start a new life with them. It could also be an in-country application that you have filed with USCIS to extend your temporary stay, or for adjustment of status, for example, when applying for lawful permanent residence.
In all these scenarios, and various others, any application or petition lodged with USCIS is likely to be subject to significant processing times, where the time it takes for USCIS to make a final decision typically runs into several months and sometimes years. However, having filled out the necessary forms, paid any fees and received notification from USCIS of receipt of your case, you can carry out regular checks of your USCIS cases status online. This means that your case status can be verified from home, the office or even from your mobile phone on the go.
The USCIS case status online tool can be easily located by searching ‘case status’ on the USCIS website and clicking on ‘Case Status Online – Case Status Search’. This will take you to the case status online landing page. By entering a receipt number — which can be found in the top left-hand corner of Form I-797, Notice of Action, sent out by USCIS to prove receipt of your application or petition — this tool can be used to identify and track the status of your case.
USCIS will assign a unique 13-digit case number for each matter filed with them. This case number will comprise 3 letters, followed by 10 numbers, where the first 3 characters signify the particular service centre in the US where your application or petition is being processed. The ten following numbers are a combination of the date your case was opened by USCIS and your unique case number. Provided the receipt number is entered correctly, without any dashes or spaces, and the ‘CHECK STATUS’ button is clicked, a screen will then appear showing the last action taken on your case and any next steps that may need to be actioned by you.
How else can I make USCIS case status enquiries?
The USCIS case status online tool will usually provide sufficient information to update you. However, there are various other ways in which you can obtain further information, including:
creating an online account: by creating an online account, you can sign up for automatic case status alerts, see processing times, upload evidence, update your address and send USCIS secure messages. In some cases, you may also have access to personalised processing times, which will provide a more tailored prediction of when you are likely to receive a decision. You may already have an existing account if you filed your case online, with access to all account features, including checking your USCIS case status. If you did not file online but your receipt number begins with ‘IOE’, you will have access to all account features once you have created your online account and linked your paper filing to your myUSCIS account using a unique online access code that USCIS provides via mail.
submitting a case inquiry: by submitting an online inquiry through the USCIS e-request portal, you can get the answer to all kinds of questions. The e-request portal is a resource for applicants with certain case inquires and services requests, for example, if your case is outside normal processing times of the office dealing with your application or petition, you have not yet received any notice by mail and how to correct any typographical errors.
using USCIS’s online virtual assistant: by using Emma, an interactive virtual assistant available 24/7, you can obtain immediate responses to your questions about USCIS services and be directed to the right information on the website. Emma also has a ‘Live Chat’ feature that enables you in certain instances to reach live assistance if Emma cannot answer your question. This is available through Monday to Friday, from 8am-8pm Eastern Time.
If you still have questions or concerns around your filing, it is often worth exploring the USCIS website yourself for further information. This contains detailed information about all different kinds of matters. The USCIS case status online landing page also provides useful links to:
Change of Address: where you are strongly encouraged to update your address with USCIS to ensure that you receive all correspondence and important notices in a timely manner. You can change your address through any existing USCIS online account or by completing online Form AR-11, Alien’s Change of Address Card;
USCIS Processing Times Information: where you can see an estimate of how much time USCIS is taking to process your application or petition. You can get an estimate of processing times by selecting your form, your form category and the office processing your case;
USCIS Office Locations: where you can find local and international USCIS offices and get directions to that office. This could include Field Offices, Asylum Offices and International Offices. It could also include the Administrative Appeals Office, Application Support Centres, the National Records Center, as well as Service Centres and the National Benefits Center.
For those of you who do not have internet access, or are otherwise unable to check your case status online, you can call the USCIS Contact Center on 1-800-375-5283. If you are outside the US, call 212-620-3418. To check your USCIS case status by telephone, you will again need your 13-digit receipt number and follow the prompts provided by the USCIS Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system. When you call this number for a case status update, you will not be speaking directly with a USCIS officer, where you will get an electronically recorded message stating the date that your case was filed and the approximate timeframe for the approval.
For live assistance by telephone, you may be waiting some time, so it is always better to use the online self-help tools and digital inquiry channels where at all possible. Equally, where self-service is available, the IVR will not present an option for a caller to reach live service.
What are the different types of USCIS case status updates?
When you check your USCIS case status, there are various different updates that you might be given, from ‘your case has been received’ to ‘your case has been approved’. In all cases, it is important to read any case status updates carefully to ensure that there are no further steps that you may need to take to progress your case.
For example, if your status is “My case was received and an email was sent”, you should ensure that you locate that email as this may contain written instructions on creating an online account where you have not done so already. In this way, you can track your USCIS case status and receive electronic notifications. In contrast, your case status may say that your application or petition is being actively reviewed, where usually no further action will be required by you, and your case is being processed in the order it was received.
The USCIS case status updates do not always tell you precisely what your next steps are, but will give you a sense of where your case is at in the overall filing process so that you can assess what you might need to do next. By failing to check your status updates and action these, where required, this may result in your application or petition being denied. It is therefore important that you find the most effective way to regularly check your USCIS case status.
What are standard and premium processing times?
In some cases, it may be possible to pay for premium processing. This is expedited processing for an additional fee, for example, for processing Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, or Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker. In these cases, although payment does not always guarantee a quicker or positive outcome, USCIS guarantee that it will take some adjudicative action on the case within either 15 or 45 calendar days.
Otherwise, USCIS adjudicates filings on a case-by-case basis, where each case is unique, and some applications or petitions may take longer to adjudicate. This does not necessarily mean that there is a problem with your case. Processing times also vary from office to office. For example, the estimated times for approval of an I-129 petition filed on behalf of an L-1 intracompany transferee at the California Service Center is just 4 weeks, while the processing time for the same petition filed at the Texas Service Center is 4.5 months.
You can check the processing times for your application type by searching “Check case processing times’ on the USCIS website. There is also a link to this page on the USCIS case status landing page. You will then need to select the relevant form, for example, Form I-129, the form category, for example, ‘L – Intracompany transfers’, and the location at which your application or petition is being dealt with. This can be determined with reference to the first 3 characters of your receipt number, for example, ‘WAC’ refers to the Western Adjudication Center, also known as the California Service Center, while ‘EAC’ refers to the Eastern Adjudication or Vermont Service Center. Your Notice of Action, Form I-797, confirming receipt of your application or petition, may also set out the name and address of the relevant centre.
The processing time displayed on the USCIS website represents the time it took to complete 80% of adjudicated cases over the previous six months, where USCIS will only allow inquiries for cases well outside the processing time. After you obtain your processing time, an online inquiry tool will appear to help you determine whether you can contact USCIS with questions about your case. If your case is now outside of the normal times for processing, where it must be beyond the time to complete 93% of adjudicated cases or beyond 130% of the cycle time, the website will provide you with a service request link for submitting a specific case inquiry.
USCIS status FAQs
Can I check my US visa status online?
You can check your visa status by entering your 13-digit receipt number in the USCIS case status online tool. This number can be found on Form I-797, Notice of Action, sent by USCIS on receipt of your application.
How do I check the status of my US visa application?
There are various ways to check your application status, including using the USCIS case status online tool or by telephoning the contact centre, for which you will need your receipt number. You can also sign in to your online account.
How do I know my visa is approved?
Once an application or petition has been approved by USCIS, you will receive a case status update from USCIS in any online account. You will also receive a notice of approval via mail, setting out any further instructions.
This article does not constitute direct legal advice and is for informational purposes only.