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18 May 2010

The National Customer Service Center at USCIS

Many of you may wonder about the system USCIS uses to answer customer service phone calls. The National Customer Service Center (NCSC) is the operation that provides telephone customer support for USCIS.

The NCSC provides most callers with answers to frequently asked questions through an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) System. Callers can select messages that provide information about eligibility requirements, instructions for filing applications, and even some case-status information. USCIS also offers callers the option to speak to a customer service representative and Immigration Services Officers from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Friday in each of the four time zones in the United States, excluding Federal holidays. Service for calls from Puerto Rico, the American Virgin Islands, Alaska, Hawaii and Guam is slightly reduced due to the time zone differences. Those located outside the United States should check with the U.S. Department of State for contact information in their country of residence.

Over 1 Million Calls a Month

Currently, the NCSC receives an average of 1 million calls per month. Information provided on the toll-free line is consistent with information found on the USCIS website. To ensure the accuracy of information provided through USCIS call centers, USCIS uses various quality assurance tools and measurements such as call monitoring, call recording, and "mystery shopper" calls. We also engage our customers who use the telephone center service to determine their level of satisfaction with the services provided. Customer satisfaction ratings have consistently exceeded 82% in four of the past five fiscal years.

We welcome any comments from readers on your experience with the National Customer Service Center - what has worked well and what, if anything, you would like to see improved.

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42 Comments:

At May 18, 2010 at 4:21:00 PM EDT , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have had contacted NCSC a few times during my cases and the CSR are pretty responsive and normally walk through the questions or escalate to proper authority. If I am to stay specific in realms of CSR territory, I think I'm satisfied and this is my appreciation comment.

 
At May 18, 2010 at 6:57:00 PM EDT , Anonymous Anonymous said...

In addition to phone calls, it'd be a good idea to introduce e-mail queries. Phone calls are last century, in this day and age e-mail is the best way to communicate efficiently, competently and accurately. Thank you.

 
At May 18, 2010 at 7:11:00 PM EDT , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am soooo glad you stated this topic.
I am not sure about that 82% sat. but there is a way you can reduce (ask why 1million callers) this number of callers.
This number is there because of backlog, customer Reps who are not consistent, and ...
If there is any how on NOAs you can provide the number of where the application is being hendled such us NSC, TSC, or CSC then this NCSC wont be overwelmed with 1million/mo.
Guys, sometime Big (central) not always good.
Customer service or whoever answer the call should know more than what we see online.
Again, thank you for starting this topic.

 
At May 18, 2010 at 9:09:00 PM EDT , Anonymous Anonymous said...

People in the employement-based visa categories don’t care about the number of phone calls you answer. What we do care about is the number of AOS applications you process.

Why are the cut-off dates for EB3 not moving?
According to the visa demand data released in January, the dates in the Visa Bulletin should be significantly ahead of where they are!

Either you are not doing your job to process enough applications as defined by the law, or the numbers in the demand report were a lie.

The only reason to hide the number of processed applications is to hide if the USCIS is inefficient, incompetent, or negligent. We still have some very little hope that may not be the case.

Release these numbers now! We are sick and tired of being treated like this!

 
At May 18, 2010 at 9:10:00 PM EDT , Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you would process our applications efficiently then we would not have to call so often ;-)

 
At May 18, 2010 at 9:14:00 PM EDT , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Then you should switch to Amdocs CRM. It sounds like you will benefit from it.

On the other hand, how about USCIS starts charging 1 cent per minute for chronic callers....

 
At May 19, 2010 at 10:29:00 AM EDT , Anonymous Anonymous said...

One thing I do not understand about the customer service line is the fact that a representative cannot(or is not willing to?) tell me what address they have on file for the Alien. Many of my clients lose their green cards in the mail because USCIS has an incorrect address in their system. If only the USCIS rep were able to tell me what address she/he sees on file, I'd be able to correct this right away for him/her. Instead, the current practice, it seems, is for the rep to transfer me to an officer, the officer to contact me back with an answer, and when I get such notice (and I'm able to see that, in fact, USCIS has the incorrect address in the system) I have to contact USCIS again! The whole process takes from 2 - 2 1/2 weeks!

I think all this trouble could be saved if the reps had access to the alien's address in the first place.

 
At May 19, 2010 at 11:52:00 AM EDT , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with Anonymous @ (May 18, 2010 9:10:00 PM EDT).
I think there was an initiative to transfer most of the files online and building a system for more detailed online inquiries/information. If I remember correctly, IBM won the bid.
(IBM to build immigration processing system
http://washingtontechnology.com/articles/2008/11/06/ibm-to-build-immigration-processing-system.aspx)
This article was reported back in 2008. Is this still in the works? Could "The Beacon" possibly blog about this?
If we had that online system, USCIS could probably ditch the call system or at the very least, drastically reduce the 1 million calls a month load on the customer service call system.

 
At May 19, 2010 at 2:25:00 PM EDT , Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about a e-mail chat rather than phone calls? [or, in addition to phone calls] And then e-mail the transcript of the chat. That will preserve accuracy and competency and will be much more efficient than the just phone call system in place now.

 
At May 19, 2010 at 4:53:00 PM EDT , Anonymous Anonymous said...

When customers open a service request(SR) on a pending case, the reply appears to be computer generated with similar text as reply to most cases. Does this reply has any significance at all? If the SR is handled by a person then the case last update date should get changed possibly with a remark that
" customer initiated SR etc"

 
At May 20, 2010 at 12:27:00 PM EDT , Anonymous Anonymous said...

USCIS Director or content TEam-

I don't know if you read this or ignore like other comments. When USCIS could turn around and implement the Fees Hike within couple of weeks & publish in Federal Register , Why they cannot implement the rule to Issue ( EAD and AC21) to the people who are waiting for the visa Numbers. That looks so hollow from outside the kind of operation that USCIS is doing.

You want to take money but in return no service. I am saying no SERVICE as there is no SET Service Level Agreement (SLA) for USCIS. They put a vague figure on officer who works on the case.

The Cases are pending for Years where everyone including the person who is reading the Content to the person who administer the content came from Other countries ( or there Ancestors). There behavior changed when they don't want to accept any more LEGAL immigrants. Why this kind of behavior.
Except the NATIVE INDIAN other people are immigrants. A Immigrant giving pain to Immigrant is very very sad.

 
At May 20, 2010 at 12:50:00 PM EDT , Anonymous Anonymous said...

This should tell you how well the USCIS's online service works. I was sworn in last week and my online status still says that I am waiting to be interviewed. Hilarious. And signing up for email updates didn't work either, I never recieved any emails from them at all. Keep calling them, get that number up to 5 million a month, that is the only way they will get to your application. I can laugh now because I am done with them but I've never seen such a poorly run organization in my life!

 
At May 20, 2010 at 2:53:00 PM EDT , Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I have called "Customer Service" if that is what one could call it. I was told that they do not know the anwer or the system is wrong. Well I wish they would pass me over to someone who CAN answer my questions and or get the system corrected. The so called system does not make sense to me. I have many many questions about it and do not seem to get a statisfactory answer, if any. I was given a fax no to write to, to date I have had no reply.This was over 2 months ago, I then sent an email to head office and they were very prompt in refering me to the website, my local office or my Legal representitive. As they could not assist me!!!!!! If they can not help, who can??

 
At May 21, 2010 at 2:44:00 AM EDT , Anonymous JoeF said...

The customer service center has a pretty bad reputation with lawyers and experienced people.
On forums, I see people double-checking what they have been told by the customer service center, and to anybody with some knowledge of the law it is clear that what they got told was wrong.
This has earned them the nickname of "unhelpful center" in some circles.
It seems that they can provide ok answers for things that are in their scripts, but that they start guessing, and often wrong, when things are a bit more complicated and not covered by their scripts.
They should be trained to say they don't know, if they can't answer things from their scripts.

 
At May 21, 2010 at 1:40:00 PM EDT , Anonymous Hart Z. said...

1. My impression is that CSRs have very limited access to applications being processed. They are good at answering generic questions, and we don't expect them to be very knowledgeable about immigration, but often times we call only because we have case-specific questions and CSRs are usually unable to help.

2. The change of address issue is a good example. If I've done everything required after moving, I expect to receive some sort of confirmation? NCSC can be overwhelmed by this type of calls since everyone with a pending case would like to confirm an address change, so making the information electronically available makes a lot of sense.

Can the online case status system include a partial address (the first few letters of the street, for example, for security reasons) that is associated with the case?

3. What is the best way for a person to call NCSC from overseas? Is there a plan to implement a non-toll-free number?

4. Is it feasible to offer a level 2 customer service over the phone, to address more complicated questions? Fee-based CS can be another option for people who really need help, but I'm typically against such ideas as they can potentially drag down the quality of "free" customer service.

5. One million calls per month is a lot, and expensive too. As a couple readers mentioned above, USCIS should look at ways to reduce the call volume, in addition to improving quality. Opening more dialogs like this post is certainly a good step.

Thanks for asking for our comments.

 
At May 21, 2010 at 2:17:00 PM EDT , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Call to NCSC does not help in all cases, as the previous posters have mentioned they should be trained more, and they should know more than what online case status says.

There was another suggestion: if you process application in timely manner we dont need to call NSCS which will result in less than 1 million calls / months. For eg, I have I-131 and I-765 pending at NSC and TSC for almost 3 months, my applications have not been touched since service center received the applications. I called NCSC to find out the status, (as we are planning our travel in June 15th) and I was given the same information as ONLINE status says, then I went to Local Field Office (Washington Field Office), and I was told the same thing by the IO or rather told to wait (I am running out of time, and the purpose was to find out the reason for it being untouched), if I were to told to wait, which I have being doing so. In your other post regarding I-131 you did mention you can visit field office if you need Emergency Travel and Field office can issue AP, but the IO at field office told me she cant do anything since the AP application is filed at TSC so TSC has to deal with it, and IO suggested I call NCSC again and try to find out the reason, looks like I am being thrown to a never ending loop.

But I am glad you have raised the issue. Kudos

 
At May 22, 2010 at 1:13:00 PM EDT , Anonymous Sjsu said...

Reply to above May 21, 2010 2:17:00 PM EDT , Anonymous message:

You can go to local USCIS office after making infopass appointment and take fresh I-131 filled application with fees. Carry proof / evidence of emergency situation. Hopefully they will issue you AP same day. Local office will not issue you AP on your pending I-131 application. All the best.

 
At May 24, 2010 at 7:52:00 PM EDT , Anonymous JoeF said...

To May 20, 2010 12:50:00 PM EDT , Anonymous

"This should tell you how well the USCIS's online service works. I was sworn in last week and my online status still says that I am waiting to be interviewed. Hilarious."

That's nothing ;-)
I was sworn in in April 2006, and up to this date, 4 years later, the online status still says my N-400 is pending...

 
At May 27, 2010 at 2:47:00 PM EDT , Anonymous Anonymous said...

One of the most neccesary issues to go directly to the point when you call the 1800 number is to talk to a representative who will ask you again for all your information so why you don't have that option available in the menu at first hand. The automatic system is not useful and consume your time, for this kind of service you can go on line which will tell you the same in less time. So, the first option in your menu should be "Talk to a Representative" and you know what to do.

Also agree with: 1) the information on the change of address why you don't have or cannot provide the last address in file; 2) Issue employment cards for at least 2 years; 3) Update information on line, so we can trust 100% in this source and; 4) Be able to provide more accurate and real information about a specific case (and do not play games). By the way, be courteous and nice.

 
At May 28, 2010 at 3:33:00 PM EDT , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Called Customer Service today to find out status on my pending AP, rep told me its approved but document has not be printed (she is not sure but may be because of lack of Biometric, I am not aware of biometrics need for AP, if so why do we need to send 2 photos? either Rep has no clue or USCIS forgot to send me biometrics appointment letter either way its not timely), anyway, my Online status still says "initial Review" now thats not up to date status. When Cus Rep says its approved and online says initial review, you can do it better, if the case status was a little more informative, that would have saved you a phone call (million - 1)

Have a wonderful holiday weekend.

 
At June 1, 2010 at 3:24:00 PM EDT , Anonymous TP said...

I want to call the USCIS customer service to check my pending case, however, it takes me about 30 minutes to wait for someone to pick up the phone. Would you please tell me how to call the direct call or call which way to spend less time to talk to someone at USCIS?
Thanks,

 
At June 3, 2010 at 10:10:00 AM EDT , Anonymous Sandy said...

I recently contacted the USCIS Customer Service after quite some time trying to get through for the second time I spoke with a real person I wanted to know why our case had been in the initial stages for 10 months although it states that the average processing time is 5 months and she told me that the question would be addressed and I would be contacted by mail. I received in the mail a reply that we are in the line waiting for our date to become current which I already knew this but I wanted to know if we had been approved for the AOS That answer would be a whole load off our minds!!!!!!!!!!!!! So I did not get my answer, did the reply mean that we had been approved has anyone else had the same response from the TSC.

 
At June 3, 2010 at 10:22:00 AM EDT , Anonymous Sandy said...

Sorry I failed to add in my recent post that we have been here 8 years and filed our AOS in 2005 so been waiting 5 years almost. so that is why we would like to know if we have been approved or not.

 
At June 3, 2010 at 3:54:00 PM EDT , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sandy,

My take, when is doubt dont call USCIS Cus Rep, they give you all kinds of reason, rather infopass might be a good option.

I called then for my AP, they told me its approved and is being hold for Biometrics (Yes, I know AP does not require Biometrics done, thats why we send 2 photos), I took an infopass and talked to IO and she told me, yes its approved but she does not know the reason for hold out, she tried everything to get message out of the system but could not see anywhere that its mentioned biometrics needed, now the question is where did Customer Rep saw that info.

 
At June 3, 2010 at 8:56:00 PM EDT , Anonymous JoeF said...

@Sandy:
AOS can't be approved if the PD isn't current.
The processing times have nothing to do with that. These times are completely useless and irrelevant. They are only useful for people who filed I-485s as immediate relatives or who's PD has been current all the time.
So, as long as the PD is not current, you can be sure that your AOS hasn't been approved.
From what I know, CIS nowadays often "pre-approves" I-485s, essentially having finished all processing, but not having the application formally approved, since they have to wait for the PD to become current to do that.
Hope this helps a bit (btw, your lawyer should have told you that as well, if you have a lawyer for AOS; and no, I'm not a lawyer...)

 
At June 7, 2010 at 3:49:00 PM EDT , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi,
my parents are US citizens and they filed I130 for me under the Family Based Preference category 3 (married children of US Citizens). There is a lot of variation in the 'Case Status' dates between USCIS (http://uscis.gov) and US Dept. Of State (http://travel.state.gov).
More i read the following in the May Bulletin of
US Dept. Of State web :
E. VISA AVAILABILITY IN THE COMING MONTHS
Family-sponsored: During the past fifteen months, the level of demand for numbers in the Family-sponsored preference categories has been very low. As a result, the cut-off dates for most Family preference categories have been advancing at a very rapid pace, in an attempt to generate demand so that the annual numerical limits may be fully utilized. If demand for numbers should begin to materialize cut-off date movements may begin to slow or stop.
Very honestly speaking, hundreds and thousands of people are sincerely waiting for years and years to get their STATUS CURRENT.
Anyway, we do still think and feel that USCIS will surely improve its efficiency and transparency.
Thanks and many appreciations for providing this feedback system.

 
At June 10, 2010 at 8:25:00 PM EDT , Anonymous JoeF said...

@ June 7, 2010 3:49:00 PM EDT , Anonymous:

The PD in the Visa Bulletin is what matters.
And the PD is determined by the number of applications and the available visa numbers, which are specified by the law.
CIS has nothing to do with that. The law is made by Congress. Your parents, as US citizens, can lobby and vote for changes to the immigration law.
For example, they could call their Congressperson and ask him or her to support the Comprehensive Immigration Reform, CIR.

 
At June 18, 2010 at 3:47:00 PM EDT , Anonymous Anonymous said...

i left the US after been denied asylum and went back to my country however i was told that i was in removal proceedings.The immigration judge subsequently dismiss the case without prejudice.It has been 3 years now and i cannot get back a visa to return to the US after trying 7 times.last time i had a work petition.Can anybody tell me what to do,the consular agent didnt even give a reason for the denial of the visa.What should be my next move?

 
At June 19, 2010 at 10:44:00 PM EDT , Anonymous Anonymous said...

After reading all this comments I can state that all the information that you get on the phone is the same lie that you can find when you check your status on line. AP is supposed to be in 3 months but it takes longer. So, when are we going to be told the truth about our situation. We are not babies. Do not lir any more, PLEASE. Do your job and stop talking nonsenses.

 
At June 30, 2010 at 8:50:00 AM EDT , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear USCIS,

I would appreciate if you could fix this issue.

California Service Center is issuing only one year EAD for EB3 filers, other centers are issuing 2 years EAD.

Even after 90 days also people are not getting their EADs, that is the reason they are calling USCIS frequently.

Because of these delays people are in the verge of loosing their jobs, please process EADs within 90 days time frame, if not show them alternate way to get it from Local office.

Please help us in this matter.

 
At June 30, 2010 at 12:13:00 PM EDT , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Updating case status online in timely manner will reduce the number of inquiry calls. I gavve my citizenship interview in October 2009. I was asked to submit some documents which I did within couple weeks and I have yet to receive any response from USCIS regarding my case. Online Case Status still shows that I am scheduled for an interview. It means the online status has not been changed in 9 months atleast.

 
At July 3, 2010 at 9:36:00 AM EDT , Blogger Tom said...

I have to say, based on my experience of having called your NCSC three times, USCIS has performed above and beyond my expectations. I was never on hold for longer than a minute, the people I've talked to on the phone were very helpful, professional and courteous, and I had my questions answered and problems resolved promptly. Kudos to your agency from someone otherwise skeptical of government efficiency.

 
At July 24, 2010 at 1:49:00 PM EDT , Anonymous Rick Bellefond said...

I would also like to know if someone has a direct phone to reach someone at USCIS so I do not have to wait so long to actually get to talk with someone

 
At August 23, 2010 at 2:20:00 PM EDT , Anonymous vinman said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At October 9, 2010 at 6:26:00 AM EDT , Anonymous neil said...

Hi, we appreciate what you are saying and agree with it , but I am afraid not everyone will take that point of view in the matter of timing . As far as phone response goes e mail response would be much easier.

 
At October 12, 2010 at 6:40:00 AM EDT , Anonymous neil said...

I too have got absolutely fed up with pressing numbers on my handset, and being offered different menus for half an hour.
Great post and now I know what to do, thank you! Actually this Blog post helped me a lot. I hope you continue writing about this kind of entry.

 
At March 30, 2011 at 4:27:00 PM EDT , Anonymous Laura Mode said...

I made some calls to USCIS while staying in the US last year. I found everything very efficient and smooth. If I compare this with German Customer Service team to yours is way more professional.

 
At June 4, 2011 at 9:33:00 PM EDT , Anonymous Los Angeles immigration lawyer said...

I definitely agree 1 million callers a month is nothing to be really proud of.

 
At June 27, 2011 at 7:54:00 AM EDT , Anonymous iTechWhiz said...

Well over 1 Million Calls a Month to NCSC with 82% percent satisfaction rate is wonderfull.
But the system should be optimized to handle queries 10 times of it.
That can be achieved by positively minimize the volume of calls to CSRs through expansion and optimization of IVR and through making USCIS website more effective and intractive, shifting the more load towards automation.

 
At September 1, 2011 at 9:22:00 AM EDT , Anonymous valorie davenport said...

I can't believe they actually have an 82% sat rate! Unheard of in almost any company, let along gov agency. I'm amazed.

 
At August 3, 2013 at 5:04:00 PM EDT , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Inefficient lazy Adjunction officers keep call center reps busy! Job security in harmony.

 
At February 4, 2014 at 8:28:00 PM EST , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ack. I've been on hold for one hour now. Supposedly, when I called, there was a 25 minute waiting time. WTF. Same one song played over and over while I wait on hold. Why can't you guys do a "call back" option, where we don't have to wait on hold - you just call us back when a rep is available? arghhhhhhhh

 

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