What Is Immigration Case Status?

Immigrant case status helps immigration applicants, who already have their United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) receipt number, check their immigration status using their 13-digit barcode usually found on the accepted application Form I-797 Receipt Notice. The online portal of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) provides updated current information on all applications, independent of where they were submitted.

Applicants can check visa applications, petitions, and extension requests using the immigration case status information system. Immigration case status can be checked using the online tool or through the phone, in person, or by email. Different offices handle immigration cases; therefore, the case number will have the corresponding letters before it. You can check your immigration case status at the American Immigration Center website.

Immigration Case Status: What Is It?

Immigration cases take a long time to process, and checking the status will offer the applicant with information on how the application is progressing and when it is it is likely to be complete. Further, applicants can find out whether the USCIS needs other information or documents to process their cases.

After filling an application for immigrant visas, the USCIS will send applicants Form I-797, a Notice of Action form, providing a unique case number used to get updates online. All applications are entered on the USCIS electronic immigration system, which provides notifications of decisions made and real-time updates. The USCIS site can also be used to submit inquiries related to their cases, such as:

  • No notice received through email

  • Lost cards

  • Wrong spelling of names or typographic errors in the application form

  • Change of address

  • Appointment requests

There are seven stages of processing, and these stages get indicated in the status of the immigration application.

  • Acceptance

This step generally takes a few days and indicates that the petition was found to be acceptable in format and will get passed on for review.

  • Initial review

This step involves identity and fingerprint checks, and background information gathering.

  • Request for evidence (RFE)

The USCIS will ask for further evidence to support the case.

  • Testing and interview

Testing usually refers to English civic tests, and most immigrant applications require a personal interview.

  • Decision

The USCIS makes a decision and sends its decision to the applicant (the decision is either approval or denial).

  • Post-decision activity

Approved petitions get sent to other agencies for processing, while in case of denied applications, this status might refer to appeals.

  • Document production and oath ceremony

Official documents, such as Green Cards, EAD Cards, or neutralization documents get issued.

Why Is Immigration Case Status Important?

While the visa waiting times are usually updated on the websites of U.S. consulates, it is important to track the application to find out how the case is progressing. You can find the USCIS processing time charts at the USCIS website.

However, every case is different, and it depends on the type of visa application how long it takes to process the request. Therefore, checking the status is essential to make sure that the applicant is aware of the progress and knows when each step is completed. Applicants can also use the system to download immigration request forms I-90 (Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card), I-131 (Application for Travel Document), I-140 (Immigration Petiton for Alien Worker), I-539 (Application to Extend or Change Nonimmigrant Status), I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization), I-821 (Application for Temporary Protected Status), and I-907 (Request for Premium Processing Service), for different immigration petitions, send further evidence, or update their information.

The portal allows you to submit services in special circumstances, such as:

  • You have not received the documents.

  • You have not received cards.

  • You have to ask for appointments.

  • There is an error in spellings or typographic mistakes in the documents.

  • You need to report a change of address.

Reasons to Consider Using Immigration Case Status Checks

Checking the immigration case status is important for applicants to find out if they need to give other documents, evidence, or can attend an interview. If the case is not processed during the average processing time posted on the USCIS website, applicants can make inquiries using the system provided on the USCIS immigration case status page.

It is possible to get information over the phone or in person. Alternatively, applicants can contact a professional immigration attorney for legal counsel.

Examples: Using Immigration Case Status Checks

Using the case status check on the USCIS website allows the applicant to sign up for email or text message notifications, so they know when each step get completed and how their application is progressing. Text messages can only be sent to a U.S. cell phone number.

The status of documents submitted and reviewed can also be checked online or via the phone. Applicants can also view the average processing time in the agency that is handling their case.

To contact the correct USCIS Service Center by email to check USCIS case status, applicants should use the center-specific email addresses below when contacting the USCIS processing center whether their application is being reviewed:

Note that a case status check may not be available for certain applications transferred to the National Visa Center (NVC)

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How long do immigration cases take to process?

This depends on different characteristics of the case, and the assigned immigration office handling the case. This information can be found on the Form I-797 before the barcode, the three letters indicating the service center. Generally, the factors that determine the time frames of immigration case reviews are:

a. The office that handles the case

b. The type of visa you applied for

c. The date the application gets received

d. The classification of application or the basis of filing

  • What do I need for tracking my immigration case status online?

Usually, all you need is the 13-digit receipt number (see question below) from the Notice of Action form. The system will also ask for the case number, personal details, and handling office, in some cases.

  • What is a USCIS receipt number?

The USCIS assigns a 13-character case or receipt number to each application, such as AAA-07-012-54321.

  • What does a case number mean?

The following information identifies the structure of a case number, which appears as AAA-XX-YYY-Z-MMMM:

  1. AAA - identifies the service center or office that received your case. TSC: Texas Service Center, formerly called the SRC: Southern Regional Center LIN: Nebraska Service Center, formerly the NSC, Lincoln, Nebrasksa CSC: California Service Center, formerly the WAC: Western Adjudication Center VSC: Vermont Service Center, formerly the EAC: Eastern Adjudication Center MSC: Missouri Service Center, which transitioned to the NBC NBC: National Benefits Center, for N-400 Naturalization and other cases
  2. XXX - refers to the fiscal year of the USCIS, from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30. Cases filed from Oct. 1, 2006 to Sept. 30, 2007 will have XX being 07.
  3. YYY - refers to the working day of the fiscal year when your case gets received. Oct. 1 will have YYY being 001.
  4. Z - refers to part of a serial number, but it may have certain meanings for USCIS internal use. 
  5. MMM - refers to a serial number assigned to your case based on how many cases the USCIS received, starting from 0001 
  • How can I check the status of my immigration case?

You can either visit the USCIS website at https://egov.uscis.gov/casestatus/landing.do, call the information line at  800-375-5283 or 800-767-1833, or set up a meeting using the Infopass system. When you check your status online, you can sign up for future status updates through email or phone.

  • Can my attorney get updates?

Any legal representative of the applicant can check the status of the case and sign up for updates via email or phone.

  • What does my case number mean?

The first two to three letters indicate the service center that is dealing with your case. The number refers to your case and is unique to your application, and it can be used as a reference for further correspondence.

Steps to Check Immigration Case Status

  • Conduct a status search on the USCIS website (available in both English and Spanish) using your unique 13-digit receipt number to access your status. The receipt number will contain three letters and 10 numbers, and it will appear on top of any notices of action you have received. Do not use hyphens or dashes between the numbers, but any symbols such as asterisks (*) should be included. An example would be AAA-07-012-54321; omit the hyphens and enter the number as AAA0701254321.

  • Click on the "check status" button.

  • You will see the information about your case.

  • Sign up for notifications on your case via email, so you get updates when progress gets made.

Common Mistakes

  • Many people believe that immigration application is about waiting, and cases are automatically handled. They could lose their visa application fees if they fail to submit information requested by the handling office on time, and get their application declined.

  • Not notifying the USCIS about missing documents or nonreceipt of notification or information request letters can have serious consequences. When the letter has not been received, it is important to contact the USCIS for clarification.

If you need help with immigration status check, you can post your legal need or concern on UpCounsel's legal marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.