Navigating the USCIS Contact Center

Navigating the USCIS Contact Center

AILA Doc. No. 19101631 | Dated February 10, 2021

Recent Changes to the USCIS Contact Center

USCIS has recently updated the USCIS Contact Center phone-tree system. Specifically, the USCIS Contact Center no longer requires numeric prompts and is now completely speech enabled through an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system. USCIS recently made changes to the IVR so that a caller must first go through the IVR system before reaching live assistance. In other words, simply saying “live agent”, “operator”, or “agent” will not immediately connect a caller to a Tier 1 officer. Instead, callers must now first engage with the IVR to try and resolve their issue. USCIS has informed AILA that this change is due to a high volume of callers not engaging with the IVR on issues that could be handled through automation, and that this was straining USCIS resources and increasing overall wait times. In addition to the phone tree system changes, there has also been changes to the way stakeholders may reach a Tier 2 Supervisor or Officer. Applicants, petitioners, or legal representatives will no longer be automatically transferred to Tier 2 upon request. Instead, the USCIS Contractor will determine the severity of the inquiry and will escalate as either “urgent” or “regular”. Urgent inquiries will receive a call-back from Tier 2 within 48 hours, while regular inquiries will receive a call-back within 7 business days.

Overview and Tips for Navigating the USCIS Contact Center

Below you will find some tips for navigating the USCIS Contact Center, including how check on the status of a case or to create an inquiry, as well as how to reach a live person upon calling the USCIS Contact Center, such as to create an InfoPass appointment. Note that live help from a USCIS representative is available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern, except on federal holidays.

The USCIS Contact Center provides escalating levels of service to handle inquiries of increasing complexity, primarily through an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system and a multi-tiered level of live assistance. When contacting the USCIS Contact Center, it is important to decide beforehand who will make the call-in order to successfully complete an inquiry.

Tier 1 (Contract employee): Tier 1 is the first level of live assistance. Tier 1 staff members, who are contract employees, provide basic case-specific and general non-case specific information. Tier 1 employees may speak with applicants, petitioners, and attorneys with G-28 on record. There will likely be a wait time and the wait time depends on the time of day. Earlier calls tend to have shorter wait times. There is no option to request a call-back.

Tier 2 (USCIS Officer or Supervisor): Tier 2 may speak with applicants, petitioner, and attorneys with G-28 on record. Due to recent changes, Applicants, petitioners, or legal representatives will no longer be automatically transferred to Tier 2 upon request. Instead, the USCIS Contractor will determine the severity of the inquiry and will escalate as either “urgent” or “regular”. Urgent inquiries will receive a call-back from Tier 2 within 48 hours, while regular inquiries will receive a call-back within 7 business days.

Tips for Checking Case Status / Placing a Case Inquiry

USCIS now requires that callers must first engage with the IVR to check their case status or to resolve their case problem or issue. If callers are unable to resolve their issue through the IVR prompts, AILA recommends trying to utilize other USCIS tools, such as Emma, USCIS’s computer-generated virtual assistant who can answer questions, or placing an e-request: https://egov.uscis.gov/e-request/Intro.do. AILA is aware that members are reporting difficulties in resolving more complex case matters through the IVR system. AILA is currently engaging with USCIS on this issue. In the meantime, if you are seeking to place an inquiry with USCIS on a complex or urgent case problem and are unable to resolve the issue through the IVR system or other USCIS online tool options such as Emma or placing an e-request, please contact AILA for assistance at reports@aila.org, subject line “USCIS Contact Center.”

Tips:

  1. Recommended that inquiries are attempted early in the week.
  2. It is best to not leave urgent inquiries for Friday.
  3. USCIS requests that attorneys limit their call to no more than three case inquiries per call. If you have more than three case inquiries, you may be asked to call back.
  4. It is a good idea to provide your cell phone number as USCIS does not currently provide call-back options to phone numbers with extensions.
  5. Make sure your phone’s settings are not blocking ‘Unknown Callers’ as it may be USCIS calling.

Tips for Requesting an InfoPass/InfoMod Appointment

Screenshot

Tips for Requesting an Expedite (adjudication or biometrics)1

Screenshot

Tips for Requesting to Reschedule an Interview or Reschedule Biometrics2

Screenshot

Background Information

On December 21, 2018, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it would discontinue the use of its Service Center specific e-mail boxes for case-specific questions, effective January 21, 2019. As a result of these changes, USCIS is channeling stakeholder communications regarding pending applications or petitions predominantly to either USCIS’ online resources via self-help tools at www.uscis.gov/tools and https://my.uscis.gov, or to the USCIS Contact Center (1-800-375-5283). Note that some applications and petitions have their own designated phone line or email box separate from the USCIS Contact Center. For example, USCIS provides a phone number exclusively for inquiries about petitions filed under the Premium Processing program (1-866-315-5718). USCIS has also established a separate phone line and email boxes to inquire about a specific T, U, and VAWA case.

The Information Services Modernization (InfoMod) program is now in full effect across all USCIS Field Offices. InfoMod requires stakeholders to schedule InfoPass appointments by calling the USCIS Contact Center via the 1-800 number, replacing the previous self-scheduling system. For more information about this change, please see AILA Practice Pointer: Changes to the InfoPass Scheduling System at Local USCIS Field Offices, Doc. No. 18020500.

If applicants are currently in need of an emergency InfoPass/InfoMod appointment, please refer to our Practice Alert: Availability of InfoPass/InfoMod Appointments During COVID-19 Pandemic for further guidance, Doc No. 20081331.


1 See AILA Practice Pointer: Suggestions for Biometrics Processing, AILA Doc. No. 21020332, for additional tips from AILA’s USCIS Case Assistance Committee.
2 Please be sure to follow instructions for rescheduling biometrics provided on the ASC appointment notice first.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: