The Homeland Security Act of 2002 provided for the creation of an Ombudsman to be an impartial resource with the mission of improving citizenship and immigration services to the public.
The Ombudsman carries out this mission by providing assistance on individual cases and making recommendations to the administration of USCIS on how to better deliver services. Since 2012, Maria M. Odom has been the CIS Ombudsman. She is considered an independent entity from Citizenship and Immigration Services.
While the Ombudsman assumes many roles, the primary role is to assist people with their individual cases. The Ombudsman is able to review facts and data, and analyze laws, regulations and procedures. After this review, the Ombudsman may contact USCIS offices on behalf of an individual to request that certain remedial actions be taken.
Check Your Eligibility
It is important to note that the Ombudsman cannot challenge USCIS decisions that have been made within the scope of the law, nor does the Ombudsman have the authority to reverse decisions or order USCIS to reopen cases. The Ombudsman is also limited by law to only solving problems involving the USCIS and does not have domain over any other government agencies.
Some of the lower level common problems the Ombudsman may resolve include:
- Clerical errors in immigration forms and documents
- USCIS’s failure to follow up on appointments and interviews
- Mailing and address issues. This is important because USCIS needs to make sure applicants receive notices and completed actions in a timely manner.
- Lost files, missing information, refunds of fees, and other administrative issues.
The Ombudsman also takes on more complex case issues as well:
- The Ombudsman may find significant errors and omissions related to the misapplication of laws by USCIS.
- Petitions that were incorrectly rejected by USCIS.
- System-wide errors or issues that should be reviewed for global change within the agency.
- Cases with U.S. military personnel involving citizenship for members and their families or immigration and citizenship for immediate family members of the U.S. military.
There are several ways to contact the CIS Ombudsman:
The Ombudsman has a website page located here that provides a comprehensive overview of services and resources.
Check Your Eligibility
The Ombudsman can be contacted by phone Monday through Friday at 1-855-882-8100 (toll free) or at 202-357-8100 (local).
General case assistance inquiries can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. The Ombudsman is committed to reviewing all incoming cases within 30 days and taking action to help resolve 90 percent of those cases within a 90-day timeframe. Requestors must begin the process by electronically submitting Form DHS-7001 located here.
You can contact the Ombudsman by mail at:
Office of the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman
Department of Homeland Security
Mail Stop 0180
Washington, D.C. 20528
Although it is not heavily used, the CIS Ombudsman also maintains a Facebook page.