If it seems like your citizenship or green card is taking too long, here’s how to check

The general climate in the United States for immigrants, tighter enforcement of immigration law aimed at slowing legal immigration, and delays in the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) processing of applications and petitions for immigration benefits under the Trump administration, have left many immigrants worried about the slow pace of their pending cases.

Although the foreign citizens may be powerless in the face of delays and decisions by U.S. immigration officials, their worries can be eased if they learn that their cases remain under review, and that the delays are within the average waiting time for the immigration benefits they seek.

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Immigration attorneys and assistance agencies say that they frequently receive calls from people who are worried by delays and ask for help determining the status of their cases.

The good news is that applicants can do that by themselves, with a simple procedure. El Nuevo Herald explains here how to check on the status of a case online and learn the average processing times, according to the types of forms and the USCIS offices processing them.

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How to check immigration case status

Anxious to learn what’s going on with your application? You can check on the status of your request using the My Case Status electronic system.

Applicants enter their case receipt number — three letters followed by 10 numbers — and the system displays the latest action taken by USCIS as well as the next steps.

Read more: Here are some of the worst mistakes immigrants make applying for legal papers

The number is included in USCIS notifications sent to applicants, titled Notices of Action.

Do not include any dashes when entering a receipt number. But you can include all other characters, including asterisks, if they appear in the Notice of Action.

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How to check case processing times

Another USCIS digital self-service tool helps legal immigrants to estimate average processing times.

The immigration agency says it calculates processing times based on historical data about completed cases because it cannot “project how long it will take to complete a case filed today.”

Read more: It’s not so hard for an immigrant to become a U.S. citizen. Here’s what you have to do

To obtain the estimated time, applicants must have the number of the immigration form type and the local office or service center handling the application.

This image shows how to identify the form type, the receipt number and office handling the case, if you don’t have that information.

In these lines of the notice you can find the form type and the USCIS office. Fotograma de pantalla / USCIS

The page will then display the estimated processing time, based on data from two months earlier. The page also provides an estimated date for the next notification. If no approval or denial arrives by that date, you can ask for information about the case using this online resource.

Daniel Shoer Roth is a journalist covering immigration law who does not offer legal advice or individual assistance to applicants. Follow him on Twitter @DanielShoerRoth. The contents of this story do not constitute legal advice.

Read more about legal and immigration issues in Spanish at

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Daniel Shoer Roth es un galardonado autor, biógrafo y periodista con 20 años en la plantilla de el Nuevo Herald, donde se ha desempeñado como reportero, columnista de noticias y actual productor de crecimiento digital. También es coordinador de, una guía sobre todo lo que necesitas saber sobre Miami, asuntos legales e inmigración.