What Does the USCIS Case Status “Case Was Received” Mean for My Marriage 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 immigration application packet. This is just the start of USCIS processing your application. It hasn’t yet reviewed your application materials or determined your 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 Marriage Green Card?

If you see “Case Was Received” after you submit your marriage green card application, it means USCUS has the application and will begin processing it. The wording of your status may be slightly different, such as “Case Was Received at Local Office” or something similar. Keep in mind that these case statuses do not mean USCIS approved the application.

You can find out your case status in two ways. First, there’s the USCIS online case tracking tool. To use this tool to find your case status, you’ll your receipt number. You can use this tool at any time during the marriage green card application process. Second, USCIS mails official notices explaining status changes. When it receives your application, USCIS will mail Form I-797C: Notice of Action. This document is sometimes referred to as a receipt notice and gets sent out whether or not you use the USCIS online tracker. 

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

No, it doesn’t. The case received notification only means USCIS received your green card application. After you see this case status, the agency begins reviewing the application to see if you qualify for a marriage-based green card. 

In contrast, “Case Approved” means USCIS decided to issue a marriage green card after reviewing your marriage green card application. This is the status most applicants are waiting to see. It means you are near the finish line with your green card application.

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

You’re now at the point where much of what you do involves waiting. That being said, you can still do a few things to ensure your marriage green card application process moves along as smoothly as possible.

If you haven’t already received it in the mail, be on the lookout for Form I-797C. Once you get it, copy it, then put the original in a safe place. You can pull out the copy anytime you need to refer to the form. A great way to make a copy is to use your smartphone (if you have one) to take a picture of Form I-797C. Not only will you have it with you almost all the time, but you can also email it to yourself for extra safekeeping.

You can also keep checking the status of your marriage green card application. You can do this with the USCIS online case status checker and the receipt number that’s provided in Form I-797C. Checking your case status regularly, will allow you to see if USCIS needs you to do anything else, such as provide additional information or documentation. The sooner you respond to these requests, the sooner USCIS can continue processing your case.

Where Can I Learn More About Processing Times?

USCIS processing times can be long. 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. The process will be longer if your spouse is applying from outside the U.S. via consular processing with for DS-260.

Your wait time depends on several factors — many of which you have no control over. For instance, USCIS could be facing staffing shortages or there could be a court or policy decision that affects the eligibility requirements for a spouse to become a lawful permanent resident.

You can make sure your marriage green card application is being processing in the normal timespan by checking USCIS’s current processing times. This tool tells you how long it’s currently taking USCIS to process particular forms at each service center. This will give you a general idea of how long it may take them to process your forms. If your application is way outside the normal USCIS processing times, you can contact USCIS.

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

You’ll typically see this case status after you send something to USCIS. For marriage green cards, applicants usually see this status after they send in their Form I-130: Petition for Alien Relative, Form I-485: Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status (if the beneficiary spouse is in the United States), or form DS-260 (if the beneficiary spouse is outside the United States).

You may see similar “received” statuses in other stages of the marriage-based green card application process or when applying for other benefits, such as:

If any of these situations apply to your marriage green card case, you could see the following case status notifications (or something similar):

  • Expedite Request Received

  • Response to USCIS’ Request for Evidence Was Received

  • Document and Letter Received

  • Correspondence Was Received and USCIS Is Reviewing It

How Can I Track USCIS Case Status Changes?

There are two ways to track USCIS case status updates. The best way is to use the USCIS online tracker. As long as you have a device that can connect to the internet, all you have to do is provide your receipt number and tap on the “Check Status” button.

The other method of tracking case status changes is to check your mailbox. When USCIS changes your case status, it will also mail an official notice of the status update, what it means, and any actions you need to take. For instance, if USCIS needs more information, the mailed request for evidence notice will explain why USCIS needs the information, what documents you need to provide, and when it must receive the additional documents. Note that since these official notices come by mail, they take longer to receive than an online status update.