How to contact USCIS and what to expect

For any foreigner in the US, when it comes to immigration related issues, there are always a lot of stories to tell. My recent story is about renewing my EAD (work authorization in the US) card.

After I sent out my renewal application, I have tried multiple methods to contact USCIS and would like share the experience here. My case is a little special that what I need to get legitimate work authorization again is simply the receipt notice from USCIS that my application is accepted to be processed. Usually it only takes 2 weeks for one to receive this letter in mail. Sometimes it doubles.

The application was sent to Lockbox and the official in-take process can be found here. The official website has listed a number of tools to submit all kinds of requests. But before having the receipt letter with a receipt number, most of them are not applicable.

  1. First thing you can try is to email the local Lockbox office at It takes a few days (e.g. 17 days in my case) to get the reply. But the local office should have the first-hand information about the thing I’ve submit. If they couldn’t find your application at all, I would assume the application is lost. In the end, I firstly get my receipt number from the kind officer through this email address.
  2. Second thing you can try is to call USCIS contact center. Trying to schedule an info-pass or appointment through the answering system could eventually lead you to live representative. The waiting time is usually around 30~60mins in my prior trials. When the representative couldn’t answer my question, I learned that I can ask to escalate the case to a tier-2 representative or officer. It is always better to make the phone call in the morning since the tier-2 representatives/officers do not take calls in the late afternoon. I found the officers are usually efficient and processional with access to more information.  In my case,  when other representatives could not tell me whether or not my receipt letter has been mailed to me, the officer told me that it was mailed out with an accurate mailed-out date.
  3. The last thing I tried is to contact my senator for help. Their contact can always be easily found and their application process is clearly described on their webpages. I provided the nice senator everything I have regarding the case. They actively asked for the things they need. I am not clear how they would contact USCIS. In the end, I didn’t hear back updates regarding my case.

It is always unpredictable when the Immigration documents would get processed and it is a bitter ordeal to one’s patience. Hope these help in relieving your anxiety.


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