9 Ways to Speed Up Your Immigration Case in Arizona
It’s no secret that immigration petitions and applications can take a long time to process. Arizona immigration Lawyer explains that in 2022, even the relatively routine process of replacing an expiring green card can take more than a year.
Waiting for US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to grant a petition can feel like you’re putting your life on hold. Here are nine ways you can speed up the process, including different ways to follow up with USCIS to get an answer about your case.
1. Complete the Application Correctly the First Time
Filling out the paperwork correctly may seem obvious, but it’s the best way to reduce the overall processing time for your immigration petition. Double and triple-check every part of your application to make sure you aren’t missing a small, but important, detail. The last thing you want for your application is to spend months in line, waiting for a review, only to have USCIS reject it because it’s not signed.
As you complete your application, make sure you follow the form-filling tips from USCIS. These tips have a lot of details about how to prepare the physical paperwork you’re sending in. For example, don’t send double-sided copies of any paperwork, and use fasteners rather than staples to hold the papers together. Read the suggestions for labeling documents. This can make it easier for USCIS to review your materials and make a decision on your case.
Make sure you have all the supporting documents your form asks for. Include copies rather than original documents, unless the form specifically requires an original. Keep a copy of everything for your records.
Remember, even though you are in Arizona, the USCIS office handling your type of case may not be. Confirm you have the right address before you ship off your paperwork to make sure it goes to the correct office.
After you send in your application or petition, you’ll receive a receipt number. Keep this number handy because you’ll need it every time you check on your case status.
2. Respond to a Request for Evidence Quickly
Sometimes, USCIS doesn’t have all the information it needs to make a decision on an immigration application or petition. When this happens, it will send a Request for Evidence (RFE), asking for additional information or paperwork.
USCIS might request:
- Certified translations of documents in another language
- Proof that a sponsoring family member’s income is enough to support the applicant
- Proof of lawful entry to adjust status to permanent resident
- Required documents that weren’t included in the original application or petition.
Receiving an RFE is a good thing because it means that someone is looking at your file. It also lets you give USCIS additional information to show them why you should receive your visa or green card. Typically, USCIS will give you 30-90 days to respond to an RFE. Getting the requested evidence back to them quickly means that they can continue working on your case.
You can only reply to the RFE once, so double-check that you have everything together that USCIS has requested before sending in your documents.
3. Pay for Premium Processing in Arizona
Certain employment-based visas are eligible for premium processing. Immigrants applying for visas using Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, and Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, can request premium processing of their petitions. This guarantees a response within 15 calendar days for most worker classifications.
You can request premium processing when you first file your immigration petition, or you can file it while your case is pending.
Premium processing isn’t cheap. It can cost an additional $1,500 to $2,500, depending on the type of immigrant classification. This fee is on top of the regular processing fees. However, it can make sense to request premium processing, especially if an employment-based visa application has been pending for some time.
4. Submit a Request to Expedite
In cases where premium processing isn’t available, USCIS can expedite an immigration petition. These are generally cases where there is some level of urgency or emergency that justifies bringing a petition to the front of the line.
USCIS considers requests to expedite when:
- There is an emergency or urgent humanitarian reason to expedite the petition
- There will be a severe financial loss to a company or person if there is an additional delay
- There’s a compelling U.S. government interest in expediting the request
- A nonprofit organization is making a request in furtherance of U.S. cultural and social interests
- A family has an intercountry adoption application
If you’re requesting expedited processing, you’ll need to explain why there’s an urgency and provide relevant documentation. For example, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, processing employment authorization for healthcare workers was considered an emergency humanitarian reason. These applications were handled first, letting healthcare workers focus on their work, rather than worrying about their immigration status.
To make a request for an expedited procedure, you can call USCIS at 800-375-5283 after you have filed your petition. You will need your receipt number when you call. The office reviewing your request may ask for additional evidence before it can make a decision to expedite your petition.
5. Submit a Case Inquiry Online
If your case is taking longer than the normal processing time, you can submit a case inquiry online. You’ll need to provide your receipt number, filing date, and email address to the online form.
Within 21 calendar days, USCIS will send you an email saying if there are any issues with your case, and how you can solve those issues. For example, USCIS might be waiting for a certified translation before moving forward.
Following up every month can help you discover these issues sooner and avoid additional processing delays.
6. Ask the CIS Ombudsman for Help in Arizona
The Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman is an independent office that acts as a go-between for individuals and USCIS. This office can provide case assistance for certain matters, including helping you receive copies of notices or decisions, such as requests for evidence.
It can also help in cases where USCIS wrongly rejected an application or petition because USCIS made a mistake about the facts. In this type of case, the Ombudsman can help eliminate delay and speed up an immigration case.
Sometimes, the Ombudsman can also help with cases that are taking longer than published processing times and encourage USCIS to make a decision about a pending case.
7. Contact Your Federal Representative in Arizona
A state’s elected officials help the people in their state receive help from the government. Federal Congressmen and women oversee the government agencies that process immigration petitions. They can ask questions about the status of specific cases and can sometimes help fix issues that were causing a delay.
When requesting help, make sure you include all the information your representative asks for, including your contact information, and a copy of the documents you need help with. This will let your representative ask specific questions about your case and help you get the answers you need.
Currently, Arizona has nine federal representatives. To find out who your representative is, you can enter your zip code or city at this site. Once you know your district number or representative’s name, you can click on the links below to request help from an agency.
- U.S. House Arizona District 1 (Sedona)
- U.S. House Arizona District 2
- U.S. House Arizona District 3 (Tucson)
- U.S. House Arizona District 4
- U.S. House Arizona District 5
- U.S. House Arizona District 6 (Scottsdale)
- U.S. House Arizona District 7 (Phoenix)
- U.S. House Arizona District 8
- U.S. House Arizona District 9 (Mason)
8. File a Writ of Mandamus
If you’ve been waiting for more than six months for a decision about your green card or citizenship case, you can file a Writ of Mandamus with your local federal court in Arizona. This is a type of lawsuit that forces the government to make a decision about your case within a reasonable amount of time.
In your Writ of Mandamus, you may end up suing USCIS, DHS, or another federal administrative agency. These agencies aren’t allowed to retaliate against people who file lawsuits. Instead, the judge can order the agency to review your file and make a decision.
The judge can’t order the agency to approve your application, but you’ll have an answer either way. This will let you make a decision about how you want to move forward.
9. Work with an Experienced Arizona Immigration Lawyer
Finally, working with an experienced Arizona immigration Lawyer can help you speed up the immigration process – and it can save you a lot of headaches.
Arizona immigration Attorneys deal with USCIS forms every day, so they know what evidence the agency needs to see, and what format they want it in. Your immigration lawyer can prepare your case quickly, and make a compelling argument to the government about why they should grant your application or petition. When the government takes too long to process your documents, your attorney can also help you find ways to speed up the process.
Whether you’re trying to bring your family to the United States, or an overworked HR representative working to bring the best talent available to your company, hiring an immigration attorney can take a lot of this work off your plate, and get the job done quickly.
Diamondback Legal’s team of immigration lawyers helps our clients with their USCIS applications and petitions at every step of the way. From collecting supporting documentation and preparing application packets to respond to RFEs, following up with agencies, and even filing lawsuits demanding an answer, our Arizona immigration Lawyer is at your corner. Contact us for a free consultation today.