The big day has come and you’re at USCIS for your interview. You have a nice officer, they don’t ask as many questions as you thought they may, and everything seems to go well.
However, the officer doesn’t say that your case is approved. Why not? How long do you have to wait for an answer? Why didn’t your attorney demand a decision?
It’s frustrating, I know.
There are a few reasons why officers may not make a decision at the conclusion of the interview:
It could be a newer officer who wants to talk to a supervisor. Perhaps you have a particularly thick file and the officer wants to review it before making a decision – remember, officers, aren’t pre-assigned cases and don’t have the opportunity to review before the interview. Some officers, though, just never make a decision while the applicant is sitting there out of principle.
As an attorney, I understand that my clients want a decision and when they don’t get one, they wonder why I don’t push the officer into making one. In truth, nothing I can say or do at this point can force them into anything.
Through the years, I’ve learned that, generally, the decision will come within a few days of the interview if not even later the same day. Like many other things in life, you have to learn to pick your battles. Since I know a decision will come soon, I know it’s not worth irritating the officer or forcing them into something they may be uncomfortable with. I want an officer to be in a good mood and have positive feelings when deciding a case.
But, how long is too long for an answer?
USCIS says that attorneys must wait six months after the interview before inquiring about it.
However, the applicant can (and should) make an appointment through InfoPass if there’s not a decision within three months.
Sometimes the more you ask, the quicker your case will be adjudicated.
If you are not working with an attorney, your Congressman has an immigration matters specialist who can also make inquiries on your behalf.
You can also sue the government. It’s called a Mandamus Action. You file the action in federal court and ask them to compel USCIS to make a decision. This is truly the nuclear option, though.
It’s expensive and unless you have an absolutely clean case that you feel confident will be approved, it may not be the best option. The government, in their anger with the lawsuit, may try harder to find a reason to deny your case.
You do have the right, though, and if the delay has been entirely unreasonable, this may be your best remedy.
What’s considered “unreasonable” depends on the type of case. Some cases, by default, take over a year to adjudicate. Others should be done in a few months. It all depends on what is considered “normal processing times.”
I know it’s disappointing to leave an interview and not know the decision. Have faith, though, that one should hopefully come soon.