STEP 1: Student pays SEVIS fee and creates an ELIS Account. ELIS sends the student a PIN that the student has to use every time s/he wants to log-in into the system. If the student forgets the PIN, there is an option to reset it. The student has 30 days to begin drafting a benefit request and submit it to USCIS. Otherwise, the account may be deleted and the student is required to create a whole new account. Students must collect, scan, and save each document separately and with appropriate file name before starting the application process. When students create their account, s/he must check the box for receiving email notification in order to receive an email alert about any updates or notices, such as a Request for Further Evidence (RFE).
STEP 2: After student logs in, s/he fills out a questionnaire similar to Form I-539.
STEP 3: Student uploads documents. The ELIS system currently has three categories of supporting documents that can be uploaded in PDF format. Students are advised to scan and save each document separately and upload it in the respective category.
- Identification Documents (such as driver’s license, passport, and any other state issued IDs),
- Immigration Documents (I-94, visa stamp, I-20, I-901 receipt, COS approval notice etc.) Since ELIS does not have a separate category for cover letters, and documents like I-566, students can submit such documents as Immigration Documents. Students that don’t have a paper I-94 should go print their I-94 from the CBP I-94 database and submit it in this category. I-94 information is kept on CBP’s database until the student leaves the United States.
- Financial Documents (Bank Letters, Affidavit of support, stocks, bonds, scholarship letters etc.) Supporting financial documents must be dated within the past 3 months and must be accompanied with necessary translation, if not in English, and currency conversions, if amount indicated is not in US Dollars.
STEP 4: After uploading supporting documents, the student has an option to view or delete each document. Students also have the option to save their draft benefit request and complete/submit it at a later time.
STEP 5: The student attests that all information provided is correct and true to the best of his/her knowledge and signs the application. After the student signs the application, the system generates a PDF document, which the student should be advised to print and save a copy for his/her record.
STEP 6: The student makes the payment of $290.00 filing fee, print the payment confirmation page, and submit the application. Once the application is submitted, there is no option of reviewing or editing the application, however students are allowed to upload additional documents before their case status turns to “optimized” on the USCIS case status screen. “Optimized” means the case is ready to be reviewed and approved by a USCIS officer or request additional documents.
STEP 7: An RFE letter, if issued, is posted on the student’s ELIS account. Students can receive email notification about a RFE (if they checked the email notification box when they create their ELIS account), if not, they have to regularly check their account or check their case status online at www.uscis.gov. Documents requested by an RFE letter can be uploaded and submitted thru the ELIS system. A student has 33 days to respond to an RFE.
Final decisions (approval or denial notices) are mailed out to the student’s address.
Processing time for change of status or reinstatement application submitted thru ELIS is 60 to 65 days before a decision or RFE letter is sent to the student. However, this may change depending on the applicant’s benefit request type and case load in ELIS.
CHECK LIST FOR ANY PROBLEM CASES:
If it has been 65 days and you haven’t heard back from USCIS, use the checklist below as a guide to identify the cause of the delay:
- Did you pay SEVIS fee and uploaded the receipt notice along with the application?
- Have you selected the option to receive email notifications?
- Did you submit all documents required for the application type?
- Did you get a RFE and responded to it within 33 days?