What if the USCIS Makes a Mistake?

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) may make mistakes during the immigration process, but it’s possible for individuals to have these mistakes corrected as needed. Applicants may know that if they make mistakes on their applications, it could lead to delays or denials; but what if the USCIS makes a mistake? Such errors can be costly for immigrants, which is why it’s critical to remedy these issues as soon as possible to avoid potential deportation or other problems in Illinois.

U.S. Department of Homeland Security logo. What if the USCIS makes a mistake.

Learn more about the mistakes that USCIS can make and how to fix them here.

USCIS and Its Role in Immigration Processes

Whether aiming to become a lawful permanent resident (LPR) or a U.S. citizen who can legally work and live in the U.S., immigrants will need to go through USCIS, which is an agency responsible for processing immigrant and non-immigrant applications.

USCIS is a government agency that ensures individuals immigrate lawfully to the U.S. Today, the agency has a body of around 20,000 contractors and employees across the globe, and it provides immigrants with the resources they need to complete the immigration process. When attempting to complete the immigration process, USCIS reviews all applications and has the role of approving or rejecting them based on applicants’ qualifications.

While USCIS works to avoid mistakes during the immigration process, it isn’t invulnerable to them and has the ability to make occasional errors.

Types of Mistakes Made by USCIS in Illinois

USCIS is reluctant to admit when it has made a mistake and may attempt to prove that it hasn’t, even when the agency has made an error.

For example, an official with USCIS might neglect to notice that an applicant has paid a fee for submitting an application and claim that the applicant still owes a fee. USCIS could also be responsible for clerical errors, such as printing the wrong name on a green card or including incorrect dates. In these instances, it can be difficult to show that USCIS is behind the mistake and demand that the agency correct it.

Some mistakes USCIS makes may be minor, but others can be serious and have a significant impact on immigrants’ lives. Depending on the scope of the mistake, individuals can take various actions to correct them.

Impact of Mistakes on Individuals’ Lives and Immigration Status

USCIS mistakes can negatively impact individuals in different ways, depending on the circumstances and nature of the mistake.

For example, USCIS may erroneously deny someone’s application when attempting to become an LPR in this country. The agency may claim that the individual hasn’t submitted the correct information, sufficient supporting documentation, or a filing fee, even when he or she has done so. As a result, the individual’s immigration status could be compromised, and he or she could face deportation in extreme cases.

Filing fees can also be costly, especially when immigrants are in difficult financial situations. For instance, the filing fee for an immigrant petition today is $775, and other fees could apply based on the situation. USCIS may reject an application and keep the filing fee, which could not only impact a person’s immigrant status but also make things even more challenging financially for applicants and their loved ones.

Ultimately, the impact of USCIS mistakes can be significant in many cases, which is why it’s critical to correct them when possible. It can be challenging to prove that USCIS was behind a mistake in the immigration process, but the right approach can provide evidence of mistakes and get USCIS to make a correction when necessary.

Legal Recourse for USCIS Mistakes

In the event of a USCIS mistake during the immigration process, you may get a correction by either requesting a correction from the agency or, in more serious cases, taking legal action to ensure a correction.

How to Request an Error Correction From USCIS

If you want to get USCIS to correct the mistakes it made during immigration, you can work to make sure the agency makes the change requested in the following general steps:

1.      Write a letter of explanation. You can write a letter to USCIS that details the mistake. This letter should include the date, identifying information like your name and case number, your mailing address, and your signature, along with other relevant information and an in-depth explanation of the mistake.

2.      Provide supporting documentation. To prove the nature of the error and ensure the desired correction, include photocopies of supporting documentation with your letter. This evidence will include the erroneous documentation, your letter, and any documents showing the correct information.

3.      Send the correction request to USCIS. After writing your explanation letter and including any relevant supporting documents, submit the letter to USCIS. You must send the letter and documentation to the USCIS service center that processed your immigration application.

Depending on the circumstances, you may also need to submit other documentation, such as specific forms with fields allowing you to detail mistakes. The USCIS website lists the different steps to take based on your unique situation.

Appealing USCIS Decisions

If USCIS denies your application due to a mistake that the agency made, your method of appeal will depend on your situation. For example, if you have attempted to undergo naturalization and USCIS makes a mistake in the process, you have the option of applying for an administrative appeal that can take as long as a year to complete.

Generally, appealing an USCIS decision will involve appealing to either the administrative appeals office or The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA). When going through administrative appeals, these cases often entail filing an I-290B, which is a motion to reconsider or reopen a case. You may also file a motion with your local USCIS field office. In some cases, especially those involving minor mistakes, USCIS may admit its mistake and issue a quick correction.

However, for bigger mistakes, you may want to file a lawsuit against USCIS to have a federal court overturn the decision, but these instances may still entail going through administrative appeals or the BIA.

Depending on the nature of the mistake and your unique situation, an attorney with experience handling these cases may advise you on the right steps to correct a mistake.

Consult With an Experienced Immigration Attorney

If you believe USCIS is responsible for a mistake during immigration, you may need assistance from an immigration legal services attorney. These lawyers have experience handling immigration cases of all types and will determine how to go about correcting a mistake of any kind.

Rebuilding After a USCIS Mistake

Following any kind of USCIS mistake, it can be difficult for individuals to recover, especially if the mistake compromises the individual’s immigrant status. Thankfully, there are remedies available to immigrants to help them recover following a mistake, including seeking corrections and getting help with their applications.

One way the U.S. government is helping immigrants succeed with the immigration process is through USCIS grants. These are funds that go toward agencies that help lawful permanent residents prepare for naturalization. While these grants don’t fund individuals, the agencies they fund can provide immigrants with the resources they need to successfully become American citizens.

Additionally, attorneys can help their clients prepare necessary documentation and maximize their chances of success with the application process after a mistake. Attorneys may be able to remedy the error and properly prepare documentation to increase the chances of approval from USCIS when resubmitting paperwork and documentation.

It’s also important to know how to check USCIS processing times online, which can help you determine how long you’ll need to wait before receiving approval based on your immigration category.

Options for Rectifying Immigration Status and Restoring Lost Opportunities

If an error on the part of USCIS compromises your immigration application, another fix is a “nunc pro tunc” request, which is Latin for “now for then.” This is a method that can help individuals receive approval for an application and reverse a denial that resulted from a clerical error.

Upon making a nunc pro tunc request, USCIS may review your case to verify the accuracy of documentation and its decision. In the process, the agency may conclude that an error occurred that prevented the proper recording of the decision.

This course of action could be one of the best methods of restoring your immigrant status and give you another chance to succeed with an application.

Taking the Right Action in the Event of a USCIS Mistake

Like other agencies, USCIS isn’t impervious to mistakes and can make them at some point during the immigration process. Remaining diligent and keeping an eye out for errors can help you identify what if the USCIS makes a mistake, determine what to do in the event of an error, and ensure you don’t request a correction too late into the process. An attorney may help you confirm whether a mistake occurred due to USCIS error and put you on the path to correcting it, enabling you to rebuild following the error.