The ABC's Of Immigration – The BCIS Customer Service Line
The BCIS Customer Service Line, or
the National Customer Service Center (NCSC), was put into effect for visa
applicants to ensure that there are no problems with their pending applications.
The NCSC will take service requests from applicants who do not receive decisions
or update about their case within the current projected processing time.
Applicants are encouraged to stay up-to-date on the current processing times
relevant for their visa applications. If an application is not processed within
the current processing time, customers are encouraged to call the NCSC for an
update. The NCSC will also take service requests for change-of-address, not
receiving a receipt within a certain timeframe, and mistakes on the receipt
When a customer calls the NCSC, the operator will refer the service request to the correct processing center for research. The processing center will then respond directly to the customer. There are nine different categories for referrals.
Within these categories, certain referrals apply to service center filings only. The first is the ‘non-receipt referral.’ This referral is taken if an applicant mailed their application to a service center more than thirty days before and has not received a receipt notice.
The next type is a ‘no automated information referral.’ In this instance, the referral is taken if the customer has a valid receipt number that will not work in the automated on-line and IVR systems.
The ‘non-delivery referral’ is taken if CRIS indicates that the service center mailed a notice to the customer more than thirty days before, but the customer has not received it.
A referral regarding DOS review of a J-1 foreign residence waiver is taken if the applicant has not received a notice from the service center within sixty days after an interested agency or a ‘no objection’ letter was sent to a service center to waive the two year foreign residency requirement.
A ‘change of address’ referral is taken if the applicant has already moved and changed their address. (This applies for naturalization applicants and service center filings.)
An ‘error correction’ referral is taken if: there is a mistake or typo on a notice issued by a service center and/or an associated I-94 or there is a mistake or typo on a BCIS document.
There are also several referrals that do not apply to service center filings. A ‘case status referral’ is taken if the case is outside the processing center’s current processing time for that type of case and the customer has not received an update within the last sixty days or an earlier referral was not answered within the referral processing time of thirty days.
A referral for a request to reschedule an appointment is taken if the customer has scheduled an appointment at a local office and claims that an emergency prevents them from appearing.
A referral is also taken if an I-129 petitioner or representative needs to delete a beneficiary or request that a different consulate or POE be notified.
The referrals explained above are deemed to have higher priority than other service requests. For this reason, NCSC will explain to customers whose service requests to not fall into one of these referral categories how to submit a request directly to the appropriate service center. For customers who request that original documents be returned after an application is approved or denied, NCSC will explain how to submit Form G-884 and a copy of the receipt or approval notice to the service center. In the case where a customer feels that there was a technical error, such as receiving an RFE even though the requested information was already submitted, or an incorrect decision, NCSC will advise callers of existing appeal or motion procedures and inform callers how to write or fax the service center. For special or expedited processing requests, NCSC will inform callers how to write or fax the service center. If a customer’s representative or attorney has a change-of-address, NCSC will explain how to write directly to a service center to provide the new address.
The NCSC service is available in both Spanish and English. The NCSC telephone number is 1-800-375-5283 or 1-800-767-1833 (TTY). The hours of operation for automated service are twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. For live assistance, customers in the U.S. can call Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. local time (8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. local time in Alaska, 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. local time in Hawaii, 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. local time in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands and 6:00 AM to 11:00 AM local time Tuesday through Saturday in Guam). Applicants who live outside of the U.S. should contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. For more information, check the NCSC website: http://www.bcis.gov/graphics/services/NCSC.htm.
Disclaimer: This newsletter is provided as a public service and not intended to establish an attorney client relationship. Any reliance on information contained herein is taken at your own risk.