Employers, sponsors and beneficiaries across the U.S. have experienced significant delays in receiving Receipt and Approval Notices from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) over the last several months. This is in part due to office closures and reduced capacity related to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Who Does This Impact?
These delays are impacting beneficiaries in nearly every immigration status, seeking notice in almost every case type. Envoy customers are specifically seeing delayed issuance of Receipt and Approval Notices for nonimmigrant case types (H-1B, L-1 or TN) and in the issuance of I-765 employment authorization documents (EADs) and green cards.
How are Envoy Global and Global Immigration Associates (GIA) Responding?
GIA is monitoring this situation and filing service requests on behalf of clients when more than 60 days have passed since confirmation of a Receipt or Approval Notice.
What Do I Need To Do Next?
GIA has advised that clients who would like an update on a specific employee’s case reach out to their legal team using the Communication Center.
Frequently Asked Questions About This Update
How long is it taking USCIS to process and send out Receipt Notices and Approval Notices?
Historically, USCIS issues Receipt Notices and Approval Notices within 2 to 3 weeks. Due to the impact of COVID-19, the GIA legal team is currently receiving Receipt Notices and Approval Notices from USCIS between 4 and 8 weeks from when the petitions were submitted to USCIS.
How do employees know if the legal team has the Receipt or Approval Notice from USCIS?
The legal team will always consider the hard-copy Notices from USCIS as the official status of a case. After the notice has arrived in the office, the team will update that case accordingly, and both the employee and employer will receive an email notification from firstname.lastname@example.org.
When the legal team receives and processes the Receipt Notice in the office, the email notification will contain the Receipt Number. That number will also become available in the Case Details section for reference, and it will link to the USCIS case status tool directly from the employee’s Envoy account.
When the legal team receives the Approval Notice, they will mark the case as Complete, and all parties will be notified.
When can an employee expect to receive a copy of these notices from Envoy/GIA?
Depending on the employer’s preferences, employees will be able to access a digital copy of these Notices within the Reference Documents section of the case in their Envoy account. If an employee is unable to locate a Notice and would like access, please have them reach out to Envoy Customer Experience. The team can provide the Notice, or coordinate sharing the notice with employer approval.
Please know that the employer will always have access to the digital copy of the Notices received. The Notices will be accessible with the Reference Documents section of a case as mentioned above.
How will these delays impact cases filed with Premium Processing?
If the application was submitted to USCIS with the Premium Processing upgrade, we have continued to receive courtesy emails from USCIS about 2-3 business days after the case is received. We have also continued to receive email notification regarding decisions from USCIS. The legal team will post the full content of any emailed updates to the employee and employer within the Communication Center so that all parties are notified as soon as possible.
Please know that while we continue to receive these emails, they are a courtesy and not guaranteed to arrive. The government-issued Notices will still be delivered within 4 to 8 weeks. Per the Premium Processing program, we fully expect to receive responses from USCIS in 15 calendar days from when Premium Processing was received. If anything related to the Premium Processing service changes, we will be sure to notify customers.
An employee received the Approval Notice prior to the Receipt Notice. When can they expect the Receipt Notice to arrive?
We have seen instances where the Approval Notice arrives prior to the Receipt Notice. This is particularly common for cases sent with Premium Processing. The legal team will continue to update the cases in the employee’s Envoy account based on the Notices they have received in the office. If the Receipt Notice arrives after a case is completed, they can still expect to receive an email notification regarding the Receipt Notice within the estimated 4- to 8-week window after USCIS initially received the case.
Envoy is pleased to provide you this information, which was prepared in collaboration with Sara Herbek, who is the Managing Partner at Global Immigration Associates, P.C. (www.giafirm.com), Envoy’s affiliated law firm.
Content in this publication is not intended as legal advice, nor should it be relied on as such. For additional information on the issues discussed, consult an Envoy-affiliated attorney or another qualified professional.