The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services plays a key role in most categories of temporary work assignments. Therefore, we present the most important areas of responsibility as well as the specifics of applying through the US Immigration Service. If you would like to file a petition with USCIS, we will be happy to assist you.

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USCIS Basic information

The official name of the US immigration service is U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and is usually abbreviated as USCIS. The USCIS is the central immigration and naturalization authority in the United States. The USCIS, headquartered in Washington, D.C., evolved from the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) and has been responsible for administrative tasks in the field of immigration and alien law since 2003. USCIS is overseen by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

As of August 3, 2021, USCIS has a new director: Ur Mendoza Jaddou

Responsibilities of USCIS

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is responsible for the application of and compliance with US immigration law. The focus is on applications that provide for longer-term US residence.
Specifically, this includes the following areas of responsibility:

  • Processing of applications for immigrant visas or Green Cards (= permanent residence in the US)
  • Processing of applications for temporary or long-term work permits for foreign nationals (= nonimmigrant categories)
  • Processing applications for extension of status and change of status within the US
  • Verification of legal entitlements to work in the USA (= E-Verify)
  • Processing applications for naturalization to the United States or acquisition of US citizenship
  • Processing of adoption applications with foreign reference
  • Processing of refugee and asylum applications

USCIS locations and responsibilities

USCIS maintains numerous offices inside and outside the United States. In the USA, five USCIS service centers are responsible for processing the applications. In early 2023, the USCIS opened yet another service center that will specialize in humanitarian cases and exist exclusively virtually. The Humanitarian, Adjustment, Removing Conditions and Travel Documents Service Center, or HART, is the sixth service center and is staffed by employees worldwide in different time zones to handle digital as well as paper-based applications and petitions. The virtual center is designed to work with other service centers to meet physical needs in the field, such as file exchange and administrative support.

  1. California Service Center
  2. Nebraska Service Center
  3. Potomac Service Center
  4. Texas Service Center
  5. Vermont Service Center
  6. HART Service Center (online only)

In addition, there are local field offices in the United States, but also outside the United States – usually affiliated with US consulates or US embassies. However, USCIS has closed the majority of its offices abroad.

Applications are typically submitted through the USCIS service centers listed above or through local field offices in the USA. Figuring out which institution has jurisdiction over a particular application process can be a challenge. Typically, jurisdiction results from a combination of

  • the relevant application form (e.g., I-129 form)
  • the location or place of residence of the petitioner (= official petitioner)
  • The category to be applied for (e.g., H-1B, L-1) or the application request (e.g., change of status).

If the application is submitted to a non-responsible service center or field office submitted, the application will be returned unprocessed.

Our practical tip

Before filing an I-129 petition, we strongly recommend that you always obtain up-to-date information about the appropriate jurisdiction at the USCIS Service Centers on the official USCIS website. In addition, please note that different addresses must be used with the service centers depending on the shipping method selected (e.g., FedEx, USPS, etc.).

L-1 Petitions filed under thePremium processing-In addition, applications that are submitted using the application procedure always have their own address. In addition, check the exact use of all address details, as even small errors can lead to non-acceptance of the application.

If you arrange for an application to be submitted through our agency, our visa specialists will ensure that your application files are always submitted to the appropriate USCIS location. We will be happy to inform you about our services.

I-129 Applications

For most US work visas, the US employer must first submit a petition to the responsible US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) service center in the U.S. with extensive documentation on the US company, the group of companies, and the employee. This application step is mandatory before a work visa can be applied for at the U.S. consulate.
The I-129 Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker is the standard application form for all common work visas applied for through USCIS in the United States – for example, L, H, or O visas.
It is important that your petition be approved by U.S. Immigration by means of Form I-797 (Notice of Action) has been approved before you submit the actual visa application to the appropriate US consulate.

Material changes after approved petition

Significant changes that occur after the application is approved must be reported to US immigration authorities in an amendment (= supplementary application) must be communicated. These are, for example, changes in the qualifying link between the business units or changes affecting the applicant's position in the company, such as the transfer from one business unit to another within the company.

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USCIS processing times

While US immigration authorities used to provide firm guidance on the time frame in which a particular application process had to be completed, US authorities have since moved to average processing times depending on USCIS service center to communicate. The USCIS website provides the currently applicable Case Processing Times provided.

All applicants should keep a close eye on the processing times of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration and Services and consider them when filing their petition. USCIS processing times can vary greatly depending on the application. In general, however, the more precise the examination by the U.S. immigration authorities, the longer the processing time.

An increase in average processing times is evident for nearly all application processes. For certain application procedures, USCIS offers the option of expedited processing, called premium processing. Upon payment of a USCIS fee, currently $2,500, and by means of the I-907 application form, USCIS guarantees processing of the application within 15 calendar days of receipt. Unfortunately, this does not expedite all procedures. However, for common work visa applications (I-129 form for L or H visas, for example), the premium processing procedure can be chosen.

At the same time, the use of expedited processing does not mean that the USCIS must make a final decision on the application within 15 days. The responsible officials also have the possibility to ask questions about the application within this time period (= Request for Evidence).

Request for Evidence (RFE)

A so-called Request for Evidence, short RFE, when it comes to the USCIS officers it is not possible to make a final decision on the submitted application on the basis of the submitted documents or information.

The reason additional detailed supporting documentation is usually required to support the application. For the L-1A or L-1B, for example:

  • Photos from the office in the USA
  • Detailed organizational charts of the sending and the receiving company
  • Explanation of the impact of sending employees to the U.S. company (e.g., increase in sales).
  • Proof of at least 12 months of continuous employment of the employee within the last 3 years in the group of companies (outside the U.S.).
  • Evidence on the specialization of employees and / or subordinate personnel
  • Additional evidence to the off-site employment (= assignment of the employee within a project at the customer in the USA)

In addition, applicants may also submit as feedback a Notice of Intent to Deny, short NOID, received. In this case, USCIS intends to deny your petition.

USCIS Case Status Check

USCIS informs petitioners about the processing status of the petition. Applicants can check the status of their USCIS petitions online at any time.

If you have filed an application with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), you can apply online at inform you about the status of the processing. To do this, you must use the Receipt Number (= transaction number), which you will receive with a letter from the USCIS (= receipt notice I-797) received after receipt of your application.
A receipt number is assigned once for each application received by U.S. immigration authorities. This transaction number consists of three letters (e.g., EAC, WAC, LIN, SRC, NBC, MSC, and IOE) followed by ten digits. Based on the receipt number the applications can be assigned and the processing status retrieved.

Here, depending on which application was submitted to USCIS, individual processing steps are displayed, such as:

Acceptance (Acknowledgement of receipt)
  • Checking whether the formal criteria are met (correct signature, payment of fees, etc.)
  • Issue of the Receipt Number
  • Sending the I-797 Notice of Action letter
Initial Review (First review)
  • Checking whether further documents must be provided
  • Arrangement of safety checks
  • Check for plausibility and truthful information
Request for Evidence (RFE) (Follow-up questions to the motion)
  • List of additional information required
  • Explanation of which supporting documents would be recognized
  • Deadline for the fulfillment of the requirements
Decision (Decision)

Approval or rejection of the application by written notice

Alternatively, if it is not possible to obtain information on the processing status of the application through the online inquiry, USCIS customer service is available at +1-800-375-5283. In case of questions or emergencies, please also check the possibility of scheduling a personal USCIS Appointment at a field office.

USCIS Fee Calculator

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services offers a helpful tool: the online fee calculator. With the help of this web-based fee calculator, applicants have the possibility to inquire the correct amount of the fee. The USCIS Fee Calculator calculates the exact fee for the particular application form. The fee calculator is always based on the most up-to-date information. The fee calculator can be used online in all common browsers and on cell phones.

With the introduction of this assistance tool, USCIS hopes to reduce the number of applications filed due to incorrect fee payments cannot be processed.

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