When you’re waiting for USCIS to review your H1B petition, it’s easy to let the stress of the situation take control. After all, your life and livelihood in the United States is at stake. To make matters more challenging, much of the paperwork and correspondence is handled by your prospective employer, leaving you out of the loop.
In this case, receiving a USCIS status update that says “correspondence was received and USCIS is reviewing it” is nothing to worry about. It simply means that the case manager requested additional information from your employer, USCIS received evidence in response to the query, and the case manager is currently reviewing the new information. If you’re curious about the correspondence in question, you can reach out to your employer for clarification.
It’s perfectly normal for USCIS to request additional evidence to support your petition. However, if your case status indicates that USCIS has made several requests for additional information, or if your case is taking longer than normal, you should discuss your case with an attorney. An experienced immigration attorney can quickly determine the shortcomings in your petition, supply the necessary evidence, and push your case through to a quicker approval.
USCIS Case Status Updates
“Correspondence was received and USCIS is reviewing it” is one of many status updates that you may see online regarding your H1B petition. Some other common status updates that you may see include:
Status: case was received
For H1B petitioners who file under regular processing, USCIS will issue a receipt notice by mail if your case number is picked in the lottery. The hard-copy receipt with the case number and processing details will be sent to your employer.
Status: case was received and a case notice was emailed
USCIS will email receipt notices to petitioners who filed under premium processing. This status indicates that your petition was chosen in the lottery and subsequently filed under premium processing. A receipt notice with the case number and processing details will be emailed to your employer.
Status: request for additional evidence notice was mailed
This status indicates that the case manager assigned to your petition requires additional information before they can issue a final decision. The case manager should have issued a Request for Additional Evidence (otherwise known as a Request for Evidence, or RFE) to your employer. Your employer will need to respond to the RFE by the expiration date listed on the notice. Until the required evidence is received, your case will be placed on hold.
Status: response to USCIS request for evidence was received
Once the case manager receives the evidence that they requested in the RFE notice, he or she will update the case status. Unfortunately, it doesn’t imply any meaning beyond that. The status may include an update on when you can expect another update or final decision for the case, but if it doesn’t, just remember that receiving the requested information doesn’t mean you have been approved.
Status: case was approved
As soon as your case is approved, USCIS will post the approval online. If your petition was filed under regular processing, USCIS will mail a notice to your employer.
Status: case was approved and my decision was emailed
As the status indicates, this means that your petition was approved and USCIS has emailed the approval notice to your employer. Remember, only cases filed under premium processing are eligible for email communication.
Status: Decision Notice Mailed
Unfortunately, this status update means that your application wasn’t approved. At this point, USCIS should have issued an RFE notice and reviewed the supplementary evidence before making their decision. A denial means that the supporting documents failed to convince the case manager of your eligibility to work with this employer under the specified conditions.
When your employer receives the decision notice by mail, the notice should indicate why your petition was denied. In some cases, the notice will provide instructions on how to challenge the decision by producing additional documents. If the employer is unwilling to challenge the decision, you may have to take matters into your own hands and hire an attorney to challenge the decision.
Status: error – the application receipt number is invalid
This message indicates that you did not enter a valid 13-character case number. Either you have mistyped your receipt number, or your employer gave you the wrong case number.
Status: name was updated
This is a rather confusing status update that even USCIS is sometimes unable to explain. In most cases it’s rather straightforward—your name was misspelled, and the case manager corrected the clerical error (usually at the behest of your employer who noticed the misspelling). However, there have been reported cases where the case subject’s name was spelled correctly when this message comes through. In those cases, it’s most likely that the case manager made some type of minor update due to a clerical error, and the “name was updated” status update was the most applicable.
Whether someone corrected your name or another clerical error, this isn’t a status update that you need to worry about. If there is a legitimate problem with your petition, the case worker will issue an RFE to your employer and provide you with ample time to address the problem.
Status: fee will be refunded
If you see this status, it means that you or your employer filed surplus fees with your application and USCIS will be refunding the surplus amount. Some people see this update and panic, thinking a refund means that their petition was declined. The good news is that refunding fees has no effect on your application, so you have nothing to worry about. The bad news is that if your petition is ultimately declined, you won’t receive a refund of fees—USCIS keeps the filing fee whether you pass or fail.
Where to Check Case Status
Wondering where you can check your case status? Visit the USCIS Case Status web page and enter your 13-character receipt number. If you’re curious about the standard processing time for your petition, check which USCIS Service Center is handling your case and visit the Case Processing Times web page.
Call our Immigration team at(480) 626-2388 to discuss your case today.
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