Question: It seems like every time I call the USCIS hotline, all I get is some general answer that does not help me. What information can the USCIS hotline provide?
Answer: The USCIS National Customer Service Center is designed to provide consistent, accurate information and assistance about immigration Services and Benefits. This is the tagline from their website. In reality, the NCSC is set up in two tiers. Both Tier 1 and Tier 2 representatives create “service requests,” which record information from the inquiry and forward it to the appropriate service center or local office for such matters as expedite requests, change of address, appointment rescheduling, case processing delays that exceed normal processing times, or other case-specific matters. Each tier handles cases as follows:
Tier 1 includes Customer Services Representatives (CSRs), who relay basic immigration and form-specific information to customers through scripts provided by USCIS. In plain English, USCIS provides canned answers to the questions that CSRs are permitted to answer. If a question posed is outside the scope of the automatic responses, then the CSR is not allowed to answer. In limited circumstances, the CSR can escalate an issue to Tier 2. A CSR, however, is not permitted to answer case-specific questions, with the exception of information available through Case Status Online, or to transfer calls to local offices or services centers where a case is pending. CSRs may never provide legal advice.
Tier 2 inquiries are fielded by Immigration Service Officers (ISOs). An ISO can review USCIS systems on a case, request that notices be re-issued, provide information that may be received at an Infopass appointment, provide specialized assistance to dependents or active member of the U.S. Armed Forces, or provide information on pending and adjudicated cases. ISOs cannot review Requests for Evidence (RFEs), directly issue duplicate notices, receipt notices, RFE notices, or transfer calls to local offices or service centers. ISOs may never provide legal advice.