In August 2016, USCIS announced certain Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) cases filed between February 14, 2016 and May 14, 2016 have been delayed due to technical issues. USCIS officials advised these cases were placed on temporary hold while the technical issues were resolved. Case processing has now been fully restored. However, CLINIC has received dozens of reports of cases impacted by the processing delays, many resulting in lapses of Deferred Action’s protection from deportation and work authorization. Further, CLINIC received reports from representatives about issues escalating cases through USCIS’ National Customer Service Center. We have escalated the reported cases and customer service issues with USCIS.
Last week, USCIS updated its DACA Renewals page with new language and instructions for DACA recipients to guide their inquiries to the Online form at the Customer Contact Center. The posting reads:
Sept. 12, 2016 Update: USCIS’ current goal is to process DACA renewal requests within 120 days. If your renewal request has been pending more than 105 days and you have not heard from us, please feel free to contact us. Please contact us through the USCIS Customer Contact Center or by sending a message from your USCIS online account inbox.
We outline the steps for case escalation, which can be used for any DACA case that has been pending for over 105 days, and offer tips below.
- Check the status of your client’s case (both the I-821D and I-765) via the online case status system: egov.uscis.gov/casestatus/landing.do.
- If the case has been pending for over 105 days, call the National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283 using the prompts provided below:
- For pending DACA cases:
- Press 1 for English or 2 for Spanish;
- Then press 2 for latest information on pending case;
- Then press 1 to enter your receipt number;
- Then after getting the status of your case you can choose 3 to talk to a Customer Service Representative.
- For online queries, submit to the Customer Contact Center at: my.uscis.gov/account/needhelp.
- CLINIC’s Tips on contacting the NCSC can be found at: cliniclegal.org/resources/articles-clinic/advocates-corner-tips-contacting-uscis. Please be certain to prepare before your call by having all the case details on hand and take notes during the call. Important items to note are call date and time, name or ID number for the USCIS Information Officer, and the service request number (SRMT).
- For pending DACA cases:
- Let CLINIC know about your delay. The more information we have, the stronger a case we can make with USCIS.
CLINIC Affiliates: We can help!
If you are a CLINIC affiliate, use our webform to submit your problem to our advocacy department. We may be able to assist you individually. If your client is in danger of losing their job due to a processing delay, please contact CLINIC’s advocacy department at Advocacy@cliniclegal.org.
Other tips on processing delays and escalating cases
File early! USCIS currently allows applicants for renewal to file within 150 -120 days of their DACA expiration date. CLINIC strongly recommends filing the renewal application as soon as possible within this timeframe.
Know before you file. Consult with your client before filing the renewal application to identify factors that may lead to delays in processing. Such factors include new criminal background issues such as an arrest or conviction that occurred after the initial DACA was approved and travel abroad on Advance Parole. If your client meets one of these factors, it will be important to file as early as possible (150 days before expiration) and inform your client that their case may be delayed.
Report Your Case Issues and Seek Assistance. If you have tried to escalate your case with USCIS, but have not seen progress, you may contact the CIS Ombudsman’s office to request assistance.
- Review Pre-submission Checklist
- Submit an electronic Form DHS-7001 through Ombudsman Case Assistance Online. When you submit your case assistance request, you should include as much detail as possible about your efforts to resolve the case with USCIS.
- The Ombudsman’s office automatically assigns a case number once submission has been completed with an acknowledgement email sent to the e-mail address provided on the form.
Don’t wait to escalate. Use your case management system or the USCIS case system to track cases and monitor the status of your clients’ pending cases. If the case is pending for 105 days, we recommend that you contact USCIS right away. Don’t wait to inquire on the day before your client’s EAD is about to expire.