How (and When) to Ask USCIS to Expedite Your Case

Erick Widman

Waiting times for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) are long, and you might ask: “Is there any way to speed up this process?” Yes, in certain circumstances, there is!

Expedite requests for various USCIS forms can be made by anyone with a compelling reason as long as they meet the specific USCIS requirements. It can be difficult to get USCIS to approve a request for an expeditious decision, but there are common reasons for making such a request. The most commonly cited reasons include emergency family matters, such as needing your travel permit quickly in order to visit a sick family member, or financial matters, such as needing your work visa due to severe loss of income. It is worth noting that this financial need must exceed the general and expected need to be able to work to support oneself.

USCIS Criteria for Expedite Requests

USCIS takes expedite requests seriously, and they review each request carefully to weigh their urgency and merit. When an expedite request is granted, it means that someone else’s request is pushed back and potentially delayed, so there are strict standards that USCIS applies when considering an expedite request.

Severe Financial Loss

If a company or person has suffered or will suffer severe financial loss, and the need for urgent action is not due to the petitioner’s failure to make or respond to a request, an expedite request may be granted. For those requestors who feel they fall into this category, you must demonstrate that the risk of severe financial loss from losing an important contract or being forced to lay off employees. Job loss can also sometimes serve as a sufficient justification for the need for expedited service.

Urgent Humanitarian Reasons

Humanitarian reasons are considered related to human welfare in the context of USCIS expedite requests. Examples of such a need could include disability, death in the family, illness, or extreme living conditions. If you have an urgent need to expedite travel to obtain healthcare or obtain employment authorization during a national emergency, USCIS may agree to grant your request for expeditious services.

Nonprofits and Interests of the United States

A nonprofit organization that is attempting to obtain a beneficiary’s benefit request needs to show there is a critical and urgent need due to the beneficiary’s role within the organization. This role must also be pivotal in furthering social or cultural interests within the United States.

Eligibility Requirements for USCIS Expedite Requests

In summation, you may be eligible to have your application expedited if any of the following are true:

  • You have an urgent and documented humanitarian reason (e.g., travel to visit a sick family member);
  • There has been or will be a severe loss to person or company as a result of your pending application (e.g., your company is being acquired and you need your green card to sit on the board of directors);
  • There are compelling U.S. government interests, such as urgent cases for the Department of Defense or DHS, or other public safety or national security interests involved in your case; or
  • A clear error was made by USCIS when processing your application, such as incorrect name, DOB, receipt number, priority date, visa category, etc.

Please note that certain cases are not eligible for expedited processing, including application types that have an option for premium processing (which can be requested for an additional fee upon filing).

The Process of USCIS Expedite Requests

If you meet one or more of the eligibility requirements listed above, you or your attorney will need to call the USCIS customer support number at 1 (800) 375-2853. This can be done at any point in case processing, as long as you have already received your receipt notice(s) which contain your receipt number(s). In some cases, you may need to wait until biometrics requirements have been completed before you can expedite your case.

During your call, you or your attorney will try to speak to a Tier 1 or Tier 2 officer in order to explain your situation and submit your request. In most cases, a Tier 1 officer will gather information from you and will schedule a callback from a Tier 2 officer, which can take several hours or even several days. After you have successfully submitted your request via phone, remember to ask the officer for the case number assigned to the request before you get off the phone.

Within 1-2 weeks, you should receive an email from USCIS asking for documentation and evidence of your situation, such as medical records or a letter from your employer. Be sure to attach all relevant documents, evidence, and receipts and return them to the appropriate USCIS service center by email and/or fax, depending on their specific request. Prior to sending them to USCIS, save copies of all of the documents for your own records. Typically it will take about one week to hear about a decision regarding your expedite request.

If your request is denied, but you believe that you meet the requirements, you may be able to enlist congressional assistance by contacting the USCIS liaison at your congressional office to help you file your expedite request.

Passage Immigration Law

Do you have additional questions about a USCIS expedite request? Passage Immigration Law has a team of professionals with extensive knowledge and experience to help you. To contact us please visit our website or call us at (503) 427-8243.

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