Expedite Requests through USCIS

Posted on Oct 12, 2020 by Chris Prescott

As many of you are well aware, USCIS processing times seem to be getting longer and longer for a variety of cases.  A potential way around these long processing times is to submit an expedite request.

To qualify for an expedite, you must meet one of the following criteria:

  1. Severe financial loss to a company or person
  1. Urgent humanitarian reasons;
  1. Compelling U.S. government interests; or
  1. Clear USCIS error.

Severe Financial Hardship

Within our practice, the most common expedite request is for the I-765, Application for Employment Authorization.  The unfortunate issue that many have with this application is that only a limited number of cases qualify for an automatic extension.  These include Asylees, Refugees, those on TPS, those with a pending I-485, and more.  Please see the USCIS website for the full list.

If the person does not qualify for an automatic extension, their employment will expire as per the date on their EAD card.  Thus, because of the long processing times (which can be up to 12 months depending on the Service Center), many will lose their ability to work until their extension is approved and they receive their EAD card.

It is a very high standard for obtaining an expedite request based on financial hardship and only a few cases will qualify.  The fact that you or your spouse will lose your jobs is not typically enough for USCIS to approve the request.  USCIS will typically claim that the financial loss is not severe.

If there are additional circumstances that you believe will qualify you for this criterion, be sure to discuss your situation with your attorney.  These could include loss of medical insurance, inability to pay ongoing medical bills etc.

Another option to consider is a severe financial loss to your employer.  Perhaps you are working on a large project and you cannot be easily replaced if you lose your ability to work.  However, you will need documentation establishing the company’s severe loss.  Thus, your employer must be willing to support you and provide supporting documentation.

Urgent humanitarian reasons

To qualify under this category, you will need to have an urgent medical or safety need.  Some examples of this category can include:

  • filing an expedite request for an I-131, Application for Travel Document, because you must travel to see a severely ill relative;
  • filing an expedite for a pending I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, because your relative desperately needs medical attention or is in immediate danger.

As explained previously, it is not enough to submit the request, but you must have supporting documents to support your claim, e.g. letters form doctors or hospitals.  It will be important to discuss the potential options with your attorney prior to submitting the request.

Compelling U.S. government interests

These requests include cases that would likely affect the US Government or the US national interest.  These can include urgent cases related to the Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, or another agency related to the US public safety or national security interests.

Clear USCIS error

If USCIS made an error on your case and it could severely impact you, you can submit an expedite request regarding the error.  For example, if they entered an incorrect date on your EAD card or Approval Notice.  However, it will be essential for you to prove that it was strictly due to USCIS error.

Expedite Timeframe

Please be aware that expedite requests can speed up the processing of your case but will still take time.  After the expedite request is submitted, USCIS could take up to 30 days to respond.  Within their response, they will ask for the supporting documents confirming your claim.  It will then be up to the Officer to evaluate the documents and approve or deny the request.

If approved, it could still take USCIS 30 days or more to make a final decision on your case.  If you filed for a request for an I-765 or I-131, it could take another 30 days to receive your EAD, combo card, or Advanced Parole.  Thus, be sure you do not make any travel plans until you receive the needed documents.

If you have any questions or believe you could qualify for an expedite request, please contact our Partner and Immigration Attorney at cprescott@patellegal.com.