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How Long Does USCIS Take to Process a Visa Application?

March 23rd, 2011 by Romona Paden

Immigration to US involves a long procedure and it is handled by the governmental agency called US Citizenship and Immigration Services or USCIS.

USCIS Forms and Processing Times

In order to get the visa or green card, an applicant has to submit an application at the American Consulate abroad or at an USCIS office within the US. You can get these forms from USCIS and other government websites or through private agencies that help applicants with the forms – completing and filing the forms for a fee. At times, the help of an attorney may be required to fill forms that are complicated.

Forms filed within the US have to be sent to the locations specified in the filing instructions. It is usually the USCIS Service Center having jurisdiction over your place of residence. Once you send your complete application package to USCIS, you will receive a 13-character Application Receipt as proof of your application being accepted, within 30 days of filing the application. The receipt number usually begins with WAC, LIN, EAC, or SRC. This number is important because it proves that USCIS has received your form and it is under processing. Moreover, this number is of immense help to you for checking your visa status.

Checking Your Case Status

To check your status, you can go to “Case Status Online” on the official website of USCIS and enter your application receipt number in the website. “Processing Times” tab on the “Case Status Online” page of the website is for general information about processing times and also for those who are yet to receive a number and want to get an idea about how much time is taken by USCIS to process applications. The time taken for processing applications varies from person to person, because it completely depends on the category under which you have applied and the Service Center of USCIS, where you have filed your application.

In case you do not get any notification from USCIS even after 30 days of submission, you can call them at their toll-free number between 8:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. – local time. The customer care executives will assist you with your queries and guide you.

An applicant or a representative, like a lawyer or agency, etc., can also create an account at the USCIS website. This account enables you to receive automatic updates regarding your case status. The service to both types of accounts are similar, with the only difference being the aspirant’s representatives can use internal tracking numbers for their office use, as they have to check the status of many applicants at the same time.

Recently the facility of text message alerts on US mobile phones has been added. You will receive alerts when your case gets updated for processing. This facility is being extended to applicants as well as their representatives. However, the standard rates for messaging or other charges may apply for this service.

The aspirants as well as their representatives can receive the status updates of the case via e-mail as well. From so many given options, it is quite obvious that checking of the application status is important, more so because every candidate’s application is not processed within the same time frame.

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