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.
After Your USCIS Interview
USCIS only delivers their final decision on your application after they have all their needed information. It's typical for your USCIS officer to give you their decision at the conclusion of your immigration interview. However, sometimes the officer will wait to deliver this final decision for your green card application.
Reasons USCIS is Delayed on Making a Decision
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?
How Long to Wait After a USCIS Interview (Update 2019)
Unfortunately, there's no deadline by which USCIS has to make a decision. You could wait a few days or a few months. USCIS recommends filing an inquiry online about your case if it's outside of "normal processing times." How do you know if your case is outside normal processing times, though? Just because you had an interview doesn't mean that you can make an inquiry. For example, we've had several adjustment of status interviews on cases we filed in November 2018, but according to the USCIS website, they aren't taking inquiries for cases that were filed after December 31, 2017. We can't ask about those interviews, yet.
You can also contact your Congressman has an immigration matters specialist who can also make inquiries on your behalf. Since attorneys are not allowed to communicate directly with USCIS to solve problems, working with an elected official can be very helpful.
If you are really frustrated and have a straight-forward case, you can also sue the government in a Mandamus Action. You file this action in federal court and ask them to force USCIS to make a decision. You aren't guaranteed an approval, but USCIS needs to do their job and suing them may be the best way to get them to act. Over the last year, more and more applicants have filed a Mandamus Action, since litigation seems to be the only way to get USCIS's attention.
In my experience, though, most cases are adjudicated within two months of the interview. I know it’s disappointing to leave an interview and not know the decision. Have faith, though, that one should hopefully come soon.
If you need assistance with a USCIS matter or any other immigration issue, contact us today.