USCIS Delays in Issuing Receipt Notices Continue
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has recently confirmed the agency is still experiencing delays of several weeks in issuing receipt notices for petitions and applications filed with its “lockbox” centers due to COVID-19 protocols and increased filings. USCIS contracts with third parties to receive various filings at these lockbox locations, and these contractors are responsible for collecting filing fees on behalf of USCIS and triggering issuance of the agency’s Form I-797C Notices of Action/Receipt Notices.
USCIS reports that COVID-19 protocols in place at the lockbox locations have resulted in an increase in the time it takes to confirm receipt of filings; confirm, collect, and deposit filing fees; and issue receipt notices. The lockbox locations must handle both the normal number of filings and an increased number of adjustment of status (“green card”) filings generated by the significant increase in immigrant visa availability in recent months. Due to COVID-19 protocols, fewer staff are on hand to handle the greater number of filings.
Many applicants who filed their applications in late October and early November are still waiting for the receipt notices for their applications, indicating a backlog of at least 6-8 weeks. Only after the initial receipting process are the cases placed in line for adjudication. This bottleneck in receipting can be expected to lengthen the overall time it takes for USCIS to take action on the affected filings. Continued COVID-19 protocols at USCIS Service Centers also impact adjudication times.
USCIS normally sends receipt notices to both the applicant and attorney. Foster recommends that applicants check their mail for the receipt notices, and note that mail delivery might also be delayed. When Foster receives the receipt notice for a petition or application, a Foster team member will notify the client. Applicants should also notify their Foster team when they receive receipt notices directly at their home address.
Foster will continue to monitor delays in issuance of receipt notices and adjudication times and will make additional information available as appropriate via the Foster website at www.fosterglobal.com.