Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, government processing times were already reaching all-time highs. The pandemic has worsened government delays. With these delays our clients often ask, is there any way to speed up the process?
In some circumstances, USCIS may expedite an application, by submitting what is known as an expedite request. According to USCIS, there are certain criteria that you need to meet. USCIS will consider an expedited request if one or more of the following standards are met:
- Severe financial loss to a company or person, provided that the need for urgent action is not the result of the petitioner's or applicant's failure to:
- File the benefit request or the expedite request in a reasonable time frame, or
- Respond to any requests for additional evidence in a reasonably timely manner;
- Urgent humanitarian reasons;
- Compelling U.S. government interests (such as urgent cases for the Department of Defense or DHS, or other public safety or national security interests); or
- Clear USCIS error.
Below we expand on what USCIS is looking for in each of the above criteria:
- Severe financial loss to a company or person:
- USCIS is very strict when it comes to considerations of “severe financial loss.” The anticipated loss has to be very severe, and unfortunately expected job loss or inability to study (if your EAD card or student visa is expiring) alone will not qualify as “severe financial loss” to USCIS.
- Documentation to establish the loss must be provided, and the documentation must show that the requestor would not be able to withstand the temporary financial loss that is the natural result of normal processing times.
- Urgent humanitarian reasons:
- To qualify under this category, you will need to prove to USCIS that you have an urgent medical or safety need. An example of this would be a sudden grave illness in you or a close family member, or extreme violence personally threatening you. This will need to be shown through extensive documentation, and because USCIS does not have a clear definition of what qualifies as an “urgent humanitarian reason,” its entire decision will be based on the documentary evidence submitted.
- Compelling U.S. government interests:
- This interest is very fact-based and specific to certain circumstances. The government will only consider expedited requests under this category if a delay in the application would impact national security interests or public safety, such as urgent cases for the Department of Defense or Department of Homeland Security.
- Clear USCIS error:
- Clear documentation must be provided to show that USCIS has made a mistake at some point in your immigration journey or application process. Did USCIS get one of your entry dates wrong, or give you status for a shorter time than is normal on your green card? If you can prove that a mistake was made by USCIS, and not from any error by you, the applicant, then USCIS will likely grant an expedited request made under this category.
What's the Difference Between Premium Processing and Expedited Requests?
You may have heard of people submitting a request for premium processing with their USCIS petitions, so why apply for expedited processing?
Premium processing is an extra fee that can be paid to process a petition to USCIS in 15 days, but it can only be submitted with Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, and Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker. The fee for premium processing varies from $1,500 to $2,500.
- USCIS does not consider expedite requests for petitions and applications that have premium processing service available.
USCIS indicates that one can submit an expedite request by calling their customer service number at 1-800-375-5283. However, getting through to representative can to make the request can be challenging. We are going to provide you with a little tip that can help you. When you get to the auto attendant, clearly and loudly say, “place expedite request.”
If you think you can meet the standards for applying for an expedited application process, remember that USCIS needs to see evidence of why you meet any of the standards, shown through substantial supporting documents. If you are unsure what this looks like, please contact us.
Not sure if your application is taking longer than normal to process?
Check average USCIS processing times for your type of petition at this link.
If you have questions about applying for an expedited process, please reach out to us at (757) 422-8472, or send us a message on our website. You can also schedule an appointment with one of our attorneys by clicking on this link.