Aunque parezca difícil de creer, USCIS no ofrece ninguna forma de verificar el progreso de un caso individual una vez que se haya metido. Las estimaciones del tiempo de procesamiento son extremadamente vagas y poco fiables. Además, nos encontramos en una situación sin precedentes en lo que respecta a la pandemia de COVID-19 y su efecto en los tiempos de procesamiento. El cambio en la administración presidencial también hace que cualquier intento de adivinar el tiempo de procesamiento sea inútil. Por estos motivos, lamentablemente no podemos contestar ninguna pregunta sobre cuánto tiempo tardaremos en llegar al siguiente paso o al final de su caso.
Hay dos cosas que puede hacer, aunque son de uso limitado.
Puede ir a https://egov.uscis.gov/casestatus/landing.do e ingresar el número de recibo de su recibo de USCIS (etiquetado como Formulario I-797). Sin embargo, lo único que hace es confirmar que su caso ha sido recibido y está pendiente. Ese "estatus" permanecerá exactamente igual hasta el día o unos días antes de que se envíe una notificación de decisión o entrevista. Por lo tanto, no puede aprender nada útil sobre su caso, excepto para estar seguro de que no ha desaparecido.
En segundo lugar, puede ir a https://egov.uscis.gov/processing-times/ para obtener información sobre los tiempos de procesamiento promedio, teniendo en cuenta que estas estimaciones son muy inexactas. En esa página, ingrese su número de formulario (consulte el Recibo Formulario I-797 y le indicará cuál es el tipo de formulario de qué se trata). También ingrese la "Field Office" o "Service Center" que tiene su caso, que también puede conocer al mirar el Recibo Formulario I-797 en la esquina inferior izquierda. Luego, haga clic en el botón "Obtain Processing Times" para acceder a una página que indica cuántos meses podría demorar su caso como mínimo. La mayoría de estas cifras son en realidad mucho más altas que la realidad. Lo hacen así para que no podamos quejarnos de que el caso está retrasado porque casi siempre pueden decir que su espera todavía está por debajo del supuesto promedio.
Otro dato que se encuentra en esta página es la "Receipt date for a case inquiry" (Fecha de Recibo para una Consulta sobre un Caso). Esto significa que, a menos que su caso haya sido presentado antes de esa fecha, no podemos ni siquiera preguntarle al USCIS por qué el caso está demorando tanto. Literalmente, no aceptarán una llamada sobre el caso y ni siquiera registrarán la llamada como si hubiera ocurrido. Por ejemplo, si la "Receipt date for a case inquiry" es el 1 de julio de 2019, ni siquiera podemos preguntar sobre los casos presentados después del 1 de julio de 2019 porque todavía son "demasiado recientes" según el USCIS. Si su "Receipt date for a case inquiry" aún no está actualizada, le agradecemos que no nos solicite una actualización del caso, ya que la respuesta invariablemente será que no la tenemos y tampoco la podemos obtener.
Ojala, estos recursos lo ayudarán a sentirse más conectado con su caso. Pero la realidad estresante es que una vez que tenemos un recibo, no hay interacción real ni comunicación con USCIS sobre el estado del caso hasta prácticamente el momento en que el siguiente paso está por occurir.
Though it seems hard to believe, USCIS offers no way to check on the progress of an individual case once it is filed. Estimates of processing time are extremely vague and unreliable to the point of uselessness. Further, we are in an unprecedented situation as far as the COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on processing times. The change in presidential administration going into 2021 also makes any attempted guess at processing time useless. For these reasons, we are unfortunately unable to answer any questions about how long it will take to get to the next step or the end of your case.
There are two things you can do, though they are of limited use.
You can go to https://egov.uscis.gov/casestatus/landing.do and enter the Receipt Number from your USCIS Receipt (labeled as Form I-797). However, all this does is confirm that your case has been received and is pending. That "status" will stay exactly the same until the day or a few days before a decision or interview notice is sent out. Therefore, you cannot really learn anything at all useful about your case except to be reassured that it has not disappeared.
Secondly, you can go to https://egov.uscis.gov/processing-times/ for information about average processing times, keeping in mind that these estimates are famously inaccurate. On that page, you input your form number (look at your Form I-797 Receipt Notice and it will tell you what kind of form you filed). You also input the Field Office or Service Center that has your case, which you also learn by looking at your Form I-797 Receipt Notice in the lower left corner. Then click the Get Processing Times button to reach a page that estimates how many months your case might take at a minimum. Most of these numbers are actually far higher than the reality. They do this so that we will not be able to complain that the case is late because they are almost always able to say that your wait is still under the supposed average.
One other piece of information on this page is the "Receipt date for a case inquiry." This means that unless your case was filed before that date, we do not have the ability to even ask USCIS why the case is taking so long. They literally will not accept a call on the case and will not even log the inquiry as having taken place. For example, if the "Receipt date for a case inquiry" is July 1, 2019, we cannot even inquire about any cases filed after July 1, 2019 because they are still "too recent" according to USCIS. If your "Receipt date for a case inquiry" is not yet current, we appreciate your not asking us for an update on the case since the answer will invariably be that we do not have and cannot get one.
Hopefully, these resources will help you feel more connected to your case. But the stressful reality is that once we have a receipt, there is no real interaction with or communication with USCIS about the status until virtually the moment that the next step is upon us.
The spouse of a U Visa holder or applicant can now file for a derivative U visa even if the marriage took place after the principal's application was filed, as long as the marriage was in existence at the time the principal's U Visa is received.
That is the game-changing finding handed down by the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals this month in Medina Tovar v. Zuchowski, No. 18-35072 (9th Cir. 2020), widely expanding the number of people who qualify for a U Visa based on marriage to a principal applicant. (Note: depending on the circumstances, children or parents of a U Visa applicant may also qualify as derivatives -- the Tovar case is about expanding the possibilities for spouses).
The U Visa was created to encourage cooperation by victims of certain crimes with law enforcement officers. A principal applicant must, in general, have suffered substantial physical or mental harm as the result of being a victim of certain "qualifying" crimes and must have provided assistance to law enforcement in the detection, investigation, or prosecution of that crime. The U Visa provides a right to remain in the United States and work and also creates a path toward eventual permanent residence and citizenship. The U Visa may even be able to provide immigration relief to some applicants whose lawful status would otherwise be barred for their own crimes or violations of immigration regulations.
Until now, the spouse of a principal U Visa applicant could only be included in the application and receive a "derivative" U Visa of his or her own if the marriage was in existence on the date that principal filed. But the Ninth Circuit has ruled that the regulation so stating was unlawfully passed, and that actually the spouse will qualify so long as the marriage is in existence on the date that the principal applicant receives the U Visa.
This means that for those who have a pending U Visa application, it is not too late to file an application for their spouse.
Keep in mind that the Trump administration is likely to challenge this holding or may refuse to comply with it. The coming weeks will give us a better idea of whether this decision is here to stay.
If you have a U Visa application pending and a present or future spouse who has not been included, seek legal counsel about the possibility of a derivative application.
A federal judge has ordered the Department of Homeland Security to begin accepting new applications for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals ("DACA") program by Monday, December 7, 2020. The ruling also orders that the administration must issue related work permits for validity periods of two years, reversing the change to one-year issuances that had been instituted over this past summer.
However, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June 2020 that the Trump administration's attempt to end DACA was unlawful, the Department of Homeland Security continued to refuse to consider new applications for the program. It is unknown at this time whether they will comply with the latest order or whether they will attempt to appeal the decision and/or continue to reject new applications.
Regardless, it seems certain that any resistance to the full reinstatement of DACA will end when Joe Biden assumes the office of President in January 2021. Therefore, anyone who may qualify for first-time DACA should start preparing the necessary materials and seek qualified legal assistance in anticipation of applying.
DACA is for persons who arrived in the United States prior to reaching the age of 16 and fulfill other requirements related to age, education, criminal history, and continuous presence. It affords some protection against deportation and authorization to work in the United States. Though it does not directly provide a path to permanent residence or citizenship at this time, there are circumstances under which a grant of DACA has been able to open such opportunities. To learn more, speak with qualified legal counsel.