What Does the USCIS Case Status “Case Was Received” Mean for My Parent Green Card Application?

In a Nutshell

When you see the case status “Case Was Received” from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), it means USCIS is acknowledging that it received your parent green card application packet. This is just the start of USCIS processing your application. It hasn’t yet reviewed your application materials or determined your parent’s eligibility. Once you see this status, you’ll want to keep an eye on future status changes and respond to anything that requires your attention, such as a request for evidence. This article explains the “Case Received” USCIS status and what to do when your application is in this status.

Written by Attorney Curtis Lee
Written November 21, 2022

My USCIS Case Status Says “Case Was Received.” What Does That Mean for My Parent Green Card Application?

This status update confirms that USCIS received your parent green card application. The agency will now process the application and decide if your parent is eligible for a green card. You may also see variations of this case status, such “Case Was Received at Local Office.” This means the same thing. “Case Was Received” doesn’t mean USCIS is granting your parent a green card. 

The first time you see “Case Was Received” will probably be when you’re using USCIS’s online case tracking tool to check your parent’s green card application with your receipt number. You can get the receipt number from the Form I-797C: Notice of Action that USCIS mailed you when it received your application and confirmed receipt. You can use this receipt number and online case tracker to check on future updates as USCIS processes your application.

Does “Case Received” Mean the Same Thing as “Case Approved”?

No. They’re both positive case status updates to see, but USCIS stating “Case Received” simply confirms receipt of an application. In contrast, “Case Approved” means USCIS has decided your parent is eligible to get a green card. It often requires many months, or even years, of waiting to receive the update that your application was approved and that your parent will become a lawful permanent resident.

What Should I Do if My USCIS Case Status Says “Case Was Received”?

There isn’t much for you to do besides wait for USCIS to continue processing your application. Your wait time depends on the information of your case, as well as outside factors such as federal funding for USCIS and court decisions concerning immigration.

In the last five years (2018–2022), the median USCIS processing time was 9 months for Form I-130 for immediate relatives and 10.8 months for Form I-485 for a total of almost 20 months. This doesn’t include waiting to receive notices in the mail or other aspects of the process such as a request for evidence.

While you wait, there are a few things you can do to help ensure your parent green card process goes as smoothly as possible. First, you should make a copy of Form I-797C and then put the original in a safe place. For convenience, you can take a picture of the form with your smartphone and email it to yourself. 

Second, you can use your receipt number to regularly check for USCIS case status updates with the case status online tool. If any updates require you or your parent to do something, such as provide additional evidence, you’ll see the notification and can respond sooner than if you wait to receive a notification in the mail.

Where Can I Learn More About Processing Times?

There’s almost no way to predict when USCIS will finish processing your parent’s green card paperwork, but you can estimate how long the agency will take. Check the agency’s processing times for the specific form and the service center processing your form. Doing so can help alert you if something is wrong with your application. If so, you can contact USCIS or an immigration attorney for a consultation.

If your form is moving at a pace predicted by the case processing tool, then you can sit tight. If the processing time for your parent’s green card is way outside the normal processing times, then you can contact USCIS or read the agency’s more info page to make sure you’re properly interpreting the information provided by USCIS.

Where in the Parent Green Card Application Process Will I See the “Case Was Received” Status?

Generally speaking, you’ll see the case received status update soon after you send a form to USCIS. The agency says you should receive this confirmation within 10 days of its receipt of the form. However, delays often occur, so it can  take two to three weeks before you see a “Case Was Received” status notification online or in the mail.

You are most likely to see a case received update after you file Form I-130: Petition for Alien Relative and/or Form I-485: Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. If you apply for a work permit, you’ll also see a status indicating USCIS received your Form I-765. 

Similar “received” statuses can also come up in other situations. Here are a few examples:

  • Response to USCIS’ Request for Evidence Was Received; You may see this after you provide documents in response to a request for additional evidence.

  • Expedite Request Received: If you request to expedite your case, you will receive this status from USCIS.

  • Correspondence Was Received and USCIS Is Reviewing It or Document and Letter Received: You are likely to see a status like these two after you send in a packet with a cover letter or another document or form.

How Can I Track USCIS Case Status Changes?

The best way to keep track of current and future case status updates from USCIS is to use its online tracking tool. All you need to do is provide your receipt number and press “Check Status.”

If you don’t have regular access to the internet, you can wait for status updates on your parent green card application by checking your regular mail. Most case status updates you see online also get sent by mail. These mailed notices take longer, but they may have additional information about what you need to do next, such as with a request for additional evidence.