In 2019, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services advanced its efforts to improve the experience of millions of people applying for citizenship, permanent residence and other immigration benefits and services. These activities can be life-changing, and time-consuming, even under normal circumstances. New challenges arose in early 2020 as the coronavirus shuttered agency field offices and contributed to delays in processing some benefits. Facing a drop in revenue from immigration application fees due to the virus, as well as immigration policy changes, the agency in August came close to furloughing more than 70% of its workforce—a move that would have severely hindered services to applicants had it been necessary.
In 2019, before the pandemic and related challenges, many customers reported they were treated fairly by USCIS and expressed confidence in agency staff members. That year, the agency improved the customer experience by making it easier to secure field office appointments and launching an automated call-back feature for some callers, so they do not have to wait on hold.
To further improve the experience, applicants would like to complete their business with the agency more quickly, efficiently and transparently. Processing times for key immigration benefits continued to rise in 2019. Because these processes can be lengthy and complex, customers would like more detailed and easily understandable information about the status of their case.
Note: This profile addresses customer support services provided to applicants for U.S. immigration benefits and services. It does not evaluate the effectiveness of immigration or national security policies. However, changes to immigration policies may affect an applicant’s customer experience.
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services manages the world’s largest legal immigration system, with people submitting more than 7.6 million applications and petitions for citizenship, permanent residence and other immigration benefits in fiscal year 2019.
People from all around the world who seek a wide range of immigration benefits and services as well as individuals who represent them (e.g., their attorneys or accredited representatives) or people who people who petition for them (e.g., family members or employers).
Key services provided to applicants (services provided in English, Spanish and other languages)
- Information and assistance on immigration processes, including help with applications for naturalization, permanent residency, permanent resident cards and employment authorization documents.
- Updates on case status and processing times, and answers to applicants’ questions.
- Online self-service tools, including account services and access to forms.
- Instruction and training on citizenship rights and responsibilities.
- Administration of grant programs to prepare immigrants for citizenship.
- Processing of refugee and asylum applications.
- Processing of applications submitted at field offices or service centers.
- Verification of eligibility for benefits through E-Verify and Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements, and adjudications through the Immigrant Investor Program.
Data at a Glance
of customers who said they are treated fairly when calling the USCIS contact center
of customers who said it took a reasonable amount of time to do what they needed to do when calling
average processing time for key immigration beneifts have nearly doubled since 2014