Following Up With USCIS: How to Navigate the USCIS Contact Center
Foreign nationals who need assistance at a local U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) field office or who want to follow up with USCIS on their pending cases, especially when the case is long pending, are advised to use the USCIS Contact Center. The following is advice on how to navigate the system, which is inherently difficult, either for creating a case inquiry or reaching a live person to request an InfoPass appointment.
As background, USCIS phased out online, self-scheduling of InfoPass appointments and replaced it with a new program for scheduling InfoPass appointments at local USCIS field offices, called the Information Modernization Program (InfoMod). InfoMod requires individuals to schedule InfoPass appointments by calling the USCIS Contact Center via the 1-800 number (1-800-375-5283). InfoPass appointments are most often used for proof of status, advance parole requests, I-551 stamps, DACA issues, ELIS application needs, Parole in Place (PIP), and proof of satisfactory departure.
The USCIS Contact Center provides escalating levels of service to handle inquiries of increasing complexity, primarily through an Interactive Voice Response system and a multi-tiered level of live assistance. When contacting the USCIS Contact Center, it is important to decide beforehand who will make the call in order to successfully complete an inquiry.
Tier 1 (Contract employee): Tier 1 is the first level of live assistance. Tier 1 staff members, who are contract employees, provide basic case-specific and general non-case specific information. Tier 1 employees may speak with applicants, petitioners, and attorneys with a G-28 on record.
Tier 2 (USCIS Officer/Supervisor): If Tier 1 is unable to completely resolve an inquiry, the call may be transferred to Tier 2 to be answered by a USCIS officer. Tier 2 staff may speak with applicants, petitioner, and attorneys with a G-28 on record. Callers may, at any time, request to have a call directed to a supervisor (Tier 2). If the wait is more than 20 or 30 minutes, the system will require that a callback number be provided so the officer can call later.
Not that upon reaching a live person, he or she will not know what you are calling about, regardless of what option you selected, and you will have to repeat all the information you already provided including the receipt number, name of applicant/petitioner, date of birth, and/or address on file.
If your case was escalated to Tier 2, you will receive a call back from a USCIS officer typically that same day, although during heavy call periods, it can take as long as 24-72 hours. (Callbacks have been reported as being received after normal business hours and on weekends).
The USCIS officer will then hopefully schedule an InfoPass appointment.
The following are some tips on using the USCIS Contact Center:
Have a lot of patience!
It is best to call in the morning to ensure that a callback from USCIS is received during standard business hours. On some days when call volumes are heavy, USCIS. Tier 1 employees will not be allowed to transfer calls to Tier 2 officers after a certain time of day.
Make sure you will be available all day so that you are available when USCIS makes its callback to you. If you miss the first callback, USCIS will make two further attempts to call, and will suspend trying to reach you after the third try.
It is a good idea to provide your cell phone number if you believe you will step away from your desk while waiting for a callback. (Note that USCIS does not currently provide call-back options to phone numbers with extensions, so you will need to provide a direct line.)
Live help from a USCIS representative is available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern Time, except on federal holidays.
Dilip Patel of Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC, a board-certified expert on immigration law, can be reached at (813) 222-1120 or email firstname.lastname@example.org