New USCIS.GOV Website Review – Check Case Status

USCIS has now unveiled the much anticipated case status checking system. Although it is noticeably better than its predecessor, it fell short of expectations.

From the DHS leadership journal and various speeches made by government officials, people had the impression that the new online status system would achieve two major objectives:

  1. Identify the current processing step of an immigration case, i.e. let a customer know what has been done, what is being worked on and what is coming next on their application; and,
  2. Provide an estimated waiting time before a case can be adjudicated, i.e. let a customer know “how many people are waiting in line or how long it may be before USCIS can process and approve his application.”

USCIS has done a fairly good job for No. 1 (case status), but not nearly enough for No. 2 (waiting time).

The case status tool now displays seven steps: Acceptance, Initial Review, Request for Evidence (RFE), Testing and Interview, Decision, Post Decision Activity, and Document Production or Oath Ceremony. Below is an example of the RFE step (see more examples here):


The benefit of this format is that all processing steps are displayed in one window – people who are not familiar with the immigration process  are now able to figure out what steps have been completed and what is likely to come next. For others, especially high-tech workers under employment based categories, this change is far less appealing because most of them understand the green card work flow quite well already.

As it stands now, a new status update will replace the old one, and if a case has reached the next step, previous ones will be grayed out. A better way would be to keep all status updates in the system until at least some time after the case has been adjudicated. This way it also acts as a personal journal for the applicant. The data are stored in the USCIS database anyway, why not make them  useful?

The new alert function via text messaging is nice and geeky, but doesn’t deserve so much spotlight in my opinion.

Regardless of how case status is presented, what is critical to immigrants is that the information in the system is complete and up to date. For example:

  • Does the system reflect a RFE that has been responded to?
  • Is background check information included in the report?
  • Does a rescheduled appointment or interview get updated?
  • If a case is at a certain stage, does it mean all previous steps have been completed? In another word, does RFE mean FBI name check is cleared? If an interview is scheduled, does it mean all RFE’s have been processed?

The waiting time report, implemented as National Volume and Trends on the new website, is far from what everyone expected. We will discuss it in a separate post.

It is worth mentioning that USCIS redesigned the website in a hurry, and completed the bulk of new development in roughly three months. So it is probably unrealistic to expect a complete overhaul. It is an excellent start, however, and USCIS deserves credit for that. But we certainly hope that the efforts don’t stop here. is one of the most popular government websites (6 million visitors monthly), so hopefully the agency will have the support to continue to make it better.

Update: USCIS has started releasing pending I-485 inventory since September, 2009. Although it doesn’t provide an estimate of wait time, it does tell you how many green card applicants are still waiting ahead of you. More information can be found in this post, or you can check out the inventory directly using our green card tracker.

70 thoughts on “New USCIS.GOV Website Review – Check Case Status”

  1. Hi,
    I’m GC holder and applied for my 2 daughters (11 and 20). I received a letter last week stating the case is in “post decision activity” stage.
    My daughter is going to turn 21 in April.
    If the Visa doesn’t come through before her birthday, does it delay her delay?
    When the does the age requirement assessed, application filing or visa?

  2. Dee,

    You may want to read into The Child Status Protection Act (CSPA), which covers children who are aging out while waiting for an immigration benefit. It is kind of complicated, but is a must read for your situation. You might also want to consult an immigration attorney to make sure you’re doing everything right at this critical moment.

  3. I have applied for my unmarried daughter over 21 by I 130. Her status says “testing and interview” and she has been issued an NBC number. However when I call the USCIS or national visa center they say that they do not see that on their file and she has not been issued any visa or interviews??? I dont know what to do or where to call. I have not received anything in the mail yet. This update on the website is very recent. please advise. Thanks

  4. I am the I-589 applicant.
    My case status post decision activity since 2000. I have work permit, social security card & filling the income tax return last 10 years. I should contact CSC-NCSC but never recieved proper response.

    Please tell me what can i do ?

  5. We already applied for the CR-189 May 2011, exp date of my Temporary Green Card was JUly 2011. Then they sent us a biometrics appt notice and an automatic extension for One year of the Temp one. I already had my biometrics done, last June or JUly. but until now I havent received my Permanent Green Card. What should I do? Pls advice.

  6. how long does it take for i 130 to get proccess i file my husdban in june 21 2011 and we only got the rc any one now why does it take to long

  7. Hi Dee,

    My wife filed for me since we’re married. I took the interview and it they told me that they will give a decision in 90 days. It has been 6 months now and I am yet to hear from USCIS. My attoryney has sent in inquiry but they still have not responded yet. What do you think is going on?

  8. my parents in u.s applied for my petition as I130 last jan.2011.the response is we have to wait 17.9 months processing.last month we check again for our status,it stated there 18.8 months processing?iwould like to know if how many months the exact petition process for i 130.thanks

  9. The processing time does fluctuate and it is hard to say exactly when a case will be approved. It is thus important to monitor the USCIS processing dates for your case (I-130). If yours is outside the processing window (e.g. it has been pending for more than the stated 18.8 months) you may initiate a service request. See here for a variety of ways to check your case’s status or contact USCIS:

  10. hello
    i applied for change of status(green card) i have done my biometrics and i receive Request for evidence and i will be sending d requested item in on monday, but on my status online the next step after request for evidence is Decision making, please does it mean i wont be scheduled for an interview? and if yes how long will it take me to get my green card if im not schedule for an interview? pls help me with answers…thanks in advance

  11. Not necessarily.
    Employment-based I-485 cases are typically adjudicated without interviews (although exceptions do occur), but it is common for family-sponsored applicants to go through interviews before their cases are approved.

  12. just wanted to ask if anyone knows the answer to my question which is this.

    i am a green card holder got my card last month took over a year for it to be processed how come they dont count from the date you arrived as time being a resident seeing how long it takes for change of status applications to be processed as my wife was under the impression that the time for me to qualify to be able to take the citizenship test would have started last year rather than this year as it stands thanks to uscis taking a long time

  13. That is just the way the law is written. You have to wait 5 years (or 3 years for marriage-based applicants) before you are eligible for naturalization. The clock starts when you become a permanent resident, not when you arrive in the U.S.

    I’ve been calling for a change to this process in several prior posts, including one submitted to DHS’ review board. Take myself for example, I received my green card through employment 10 years after I landed in this country, and I had to wait another 5 years before I became eligible for citizenship.

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