If you've filed an application or petition with USCIS lately, you've probably noticed that receipts have been substantially delayed. Many people are waiting six, seven, eight weeks or more for receipts. Below is an announcement from USCIS about the delays at their Lockbox facilities, along with some tips about filing. Hopefully, once we have new leadership at the agency, we will start to see some improvement. Also, of course, if we turn the corner on the pandemic, that should help as well. Anyway, below is the USCIS announcement, and I have added relevant links, for your enjoyment--

USCIS Updates: USCIS Lockbox

The USCIS lockbox facilities have received a significant increase in filings in recent weeks. This increase, along with facility capacity restrictions necessary to protect the health and safety of the lockbox workforce during the COVID-19 pandemic, is causing significant delays for processing receipt notices. We continue to work to minimize delays. Once we process your submission, we will review your package.

If you properly filed your form, we will send a receipt notice to the mailing address provided on your form, normally within 30 days. If your submission is incomplete or improperly filed, we will reject it per current procedures.

You can take steps to decrease the time it takes us to process and send your receipt notice or find out the status of your case:

· File online (if this option is available for your form type) and receive immediate confirmation that we have received your form instead of waiting for the mail;

· Create a free USCIS online account and check the status of your case from your mobile device, anywhere, anytime using our case status online tool; or

· Complete Form G-1145, E-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance, and clip it to the front of your form to request a text message and/or email when we accept your form.

We also encourage you to follow the tips below when submitting evidence with your application package:

· Review the form instructions and checklist of required initial evidence on the form webpage (if this option is available for your form);

· Submit single-sided photocopies of requested documents, unless the form instructions specifically state you must submit an original document;

· With the exception of passport photos, please copy photographs to an 8.5”x11” sheet of paper instead of sending originals. Always send in original passport photos where requested;

· Submit only the required evidence and supporting documentation listed in the form instructions. If we need additional information, we will request it from you; and

· If you cannot provide the required primary evidence when filing a form, review the form instructions for appropriate secondary evidence.

For more information about USCIS filing tips, please visit our Form Filing Tips webpage.

Here's a couple bonus tips from me (Jason - not USCIS). Sign up for informed delivery with the U.S. post office. With this service, you will get an email with photos of all the mail that is coming to your house. That way, if USCIS sends something important (and I suppose most USCIS mail is important), you will know in advance to expect it. Also, when you send your application to USCIS, send it by certified mail (we generally use flat rate mail through the U.S. postal service, which costs $7.75), so you will be able to track whether it was received. Finally, if you have to pay a fee, use a personal check, if possible. That way, you will know when the check is cashed and if you get a copy of the check from your bank, it should have the USCIS receipt number stamped onto it.

Hopefully, we will soon have a new Administration that will do a better job managing USCIS. Regardless of that, the more you can do to track and monitor your applications, the better.

Originally posted on the Asylumist: www.Asylumist.com