If you’re waiting for your visa or your green card, sometimes a case can take longer than the processing times recommended by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), even with the agency’s new method of calculating wait times. If you have already tried to follow up on your case by reaching out to the USCIS Contact Center and are still waiting, then as a next step, you can reach out to your congressional representative.
Congressional representatives can get in touch with federal agencies on behalf of their voters as part of their constituent service. While your representative can’t solve everything to do with immigration issues and won’t be able to reverse or change any decisions, they can help put a spotlight on a specific case, which may highlight any processing delays or red-tape issues.
How to find your state senator or congressional representative
Many U.S. senators and representatives will have at least one staff member whose job it is to liaise with the various federal agencies who deal with immigration, including USCIS (relevant if you have applied for a visa inside the United States) and the Department of State (DOS) (relevant if you have applied from outside the U.S.). Both USCIS and DOS also have specific offices and staff dedicated to responding to congressional inquiries.
If you’ve decided you’d like to reach out for assistance, then you’ll need to find out either who your state senator is, or who your congress member in the House of Representatives is. While you can contact either of them, you should generally only reach out to one office, to avoid any delays or double-ups. Some factors that may influence who you choose to approach may include how much experience they have had and their position on immigration. You can search for your state senator on the United States Senate website, or search for your congressional representative by entering your zip code on the United States House of Representatives website.
How to contact your representative
Once you’ve found out who to contact, you can reach out to them via email or phone. Email is usually the most effective way as it’s more convenient and easier to keep track of.
If there’s an emergency or you’d prefer to speak to someone over the phone, you can also find your representative’s office contact number online. You may find at least two phone numbers, including one for their district office and one for their office in Washington, D.C.. It’s generally more effective to call their district office, as usually the staff who deal with constituent services will be based there. Once you call the right office, you can let the staff member know that you are in their district and that you need assistance with immigration processing, and ask for the best person to speak to.
The privacy waiver
For privacy reasons, a congressional office cannot contact a federal agency on your behalf without your permission. To authorize the congressional office to make an inquiry about your visa processing, you will need to fill out a privacy waiver. You can usually do this online, through the member’s website.
Though the waiver forms vary, generally you will need to provide:
- Information about your case, including what sort of visa you applied for, where you applied, and the dates you applied
- Any relevant case numbers, such as your 13-digit USCIS case receipt number and your A-number, if applicable
- Your full name, date of birth and address
- A description of the issue
- Details of what you have done before to resolve the issue
- Any other key documents, such as USCIS receipt notices or agency correspondence
What comes next
Usually, USCIS will respond to congressional inquiries within 30 days if the request was sent through email, or by the next business day if the congressional office made a phone call.
Asking a congressional representative to make an inquiry about your visa does not necessarily mean the process will be expedited. If you’re applying for a green card, Boundless can help you prepare your application and make sure the process goes as smoothly as possible.