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July 13, 2021

USCIS offers a number of tools to help applicants track their case status. But using these tools can be difficult for those who are unfamiliar with USCIS terms and procedures. This article provides some insight into USCIS’ receipt notices, processing centers, case status updates, and processing times.

Receipt Notices

When a case filing is received, USCIS issues a receipt notice on Form I-797C, Notice of Action. Applicants can expect to receive them in the mail approximately 2-3 weeks after filing. The receipt notice assigns a receipt number which is used to track the status of the case. 

Receipt Numbers & Processing Centers

The receipt number begins with three letters followed by a series of numbers. The three letters in the receipt number indicate the processing center where USCIS is adjudicating the case.

The processing centers and corresponding codes are as follows:

  • WAC – California Service Center 

  • LIN – Nebraska Service Center

  • YSC – Potomac Service Center

  • SRC – Texas Service Center

  • EAC – Vermont Service Center

  • MSC / NBC – National Benefits Center 

  • IOE – USCIS Electronic Immigration System

Applicants cannot choose the processing center where USCIS adjudicates their case. The processing center is determined by a number of outside factors, such as where the applicant lives and the case type. For cases that require an in-person interview, the service center completes an initial review and then routes the file to the appropriate USCIS Field Office for scheduling.  

Online Case Status Updates 

Applicants can check their case status using their receipt number here: Examples of typical case status updates include:

  • Case received and receipt notice issued

  • Biometrics notice issued

  • Request for evidence issued

  • Interview notice issued

  • Case decision issued

  • Card in production / Card issued 

Mailed Notices

USCIS also sends corresponding hardcopy notices to the applicant’s mailing address. The hardcopy notices are important because they contain specific case information, such as interview dates / times, case decision details, and physical green cards or employment authorization cards. These details cannot be obtained through the online case status system, so it is imperative that applicants update USCIS if they change their address. Applicants can change their address online here:

Case Processing Times 

USCIS posts its anticipated case processing times here: To check a case processing time, applicants will need to select the form type and field office / service center. As detailed above, this information can be found on the receipt notice (Form I-797C, Notice of Action).

After inputting this information, USCIS generates an estimated time range for processing that specific form type. USCIS also lists a receipt date for case inquiry, which indicates when USCIS considers a case to be outside of normal processing times. USCIS will not accept an inquiry into a case until it falls outside of normal processing times. This policy can be frustrating for applicants, as USCIS’ estimated time range for processing is expansive. There are limited circumstances in which a case may warrant expedited processing or additional legal remedies, so applicants may choose to consult with a reputable immigration attorney to determine if any of these circumstances apply. 

At McGee Immigration Law, we help clients navigate the complex immigration system with patience and compassion. While USCIS’ tools are intended to help applicants easily manage their cases, the nuances of the immigration system can still leave unanswered questions. If you have questions about your pending case or the immigration process in general, please contact McGee Immigration Law to schedule a free legal consultation.   

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