USCIS Case processing times can be very long at times. When you file an application with USCIS like for EAD(I-765 form), Adjustment of status(I-485 form) or any other kinds of applications, sometimes you are stuck waiting for USCIS response for a long time. Many of these forms do not have Premium Processing option to pay a certain fee and get faster response.
Sometimes, your situations may change and need decision faster from USCIS. This is where USCIS Expedite Request process comes in to the picture. In this article, we will look at what is expedite request with USCIS, what are USCIS Criteria for expedite request, what is not a criteria and how to submit an expedite request.
What is USCIS Expedite Request for Applications or Petitions?
While someone is waiting for a decision on an application or petition pending with USCIS, sometimes, those individuals’ circumstances may change due to family, work or health, etc…and, they may need a decision from USCIS sooner than the normal processing times. To address such situations, USCIS has given a provision called “Request to Expedite Application or Petition”. The goal of the expedite request process with USCIS is to get decision faster on their application or petition without waiting further. This is primarily used in cases, where there is no premium processing option available for that particular form.
What is USCIS Expedite Request Criteria?
In general, anyone can submit an expedite request to USCIS, but it is up to USCIS to consider that request or not. USCIS considers all expedite requests on a case by case basis. They look at the documentation supporting the expedite request and use their discretion to consider a case for expedite processing.
USCIS updated their expedite request criteria in May 2019 and it is much for stringent now. Below are the current Expedite request Criteria as listed by USCIS that they may consider.
- Severe loss to a company or person: To be eligible, first USCIS will look at the filing time and your responses…They check, if you have filed the application or petition on time and the reason for expedite request is not because of you last minute filing. Also, they will look at the aspect of your response times for any RFE or additional evidence info, if USCIS has asked anything as such. Once they believe, it is filed properly and you responded well, then they look at the circumstances of the individual filing it and loss for the individual or company. You need to provide all the documentation and proof indicating that there will be loss to the person or company. The person requesting should provide genuine proofs and documentation stating the loss and details of the same, if USCIS were to process the application in normal processing time.
- Urgent Humanitarian reasons: There is no regulatory definition for humanitarian reasons given by USCIS. They typically look at aspects of the situation of the individual and how pressing their need is for the decision of the application that is pending. Some common examples are : need for critical medical treatment with time sensitive action, assist a family member who has severe illness or disease, the degree of suffering of the individual or family member, natural disaster, need for hospital stay, etc. Again, this is very broad and totally up to USCIS discretion.
- Nonprofit Organizations : Nonprofit Organization’s requests, where they are focused towards development of cultural and social interests of the United States. The organization seeking the expedited request has to be designated by IRS as non-profit to use this criteria. Any of these non-profit organizations, even if they have premium processing available for the forms they filed, they can still request the expedite processing without paying fee for getting decision faster. This new criterion was added by Biden Adminisration as par of policy update in June 2021.
- Compelling US Govt. Interests : If the adjudication of application or petition is tied to US national or Govt. interests. It could be urgent cases for US Dept of Defense, DHS or any national security or interest.
- USCIS Error : If there is a clear USCIS Error, then they may consider as well. Example could be, you got wrong dates in your petition decision and you would lose status due to mistake of USCIS or some critical errors tied to your status or EAD application. You need to demonstrate the same that it is USCIS error and not your mistake in filling application.
What is USCIS EAD Expedite Criteria?
One of the very common expedite requests that are raised with USCIS are tied to expedite of EAD (Employment Authorization Document). There are many USCIS EAD Category Codes and many of them end up in situations, where they feel the need to expedite their EAD application processing. For instance, delays in H4, H4 EAD Processing with Biometrics. The criteria are no different from the above listed general criteria for EAD. Some of the key criteria that are typically considered by USCIS are listed below
- EAD Expedite Request for Extreme Loss to Business or Person : Similar to above, you need to prove that, if you do not have EAD adjudicated on time, there will be loss to the company like losing a lot of revenue and impact them very badly, or it could be aspects like the person will suffer due to not having EAD, could be insurance, health conditions, etc. Anything business related that is pre-planned based on normal processing times and if you do not go or attend, and it will cause loss to company or person can be put in for this criteria. You will need to submit proofs to USCIS supporting the same.
- Urgent Humanitarian Reason EAD Expedite : This is very subjective, but situations could be that, if you do not get EAD on time, you may lose job and say, if you have critical illness for you or your family has the same and you would end up in very dire situation, if EAD is not arriving on time, could be something to consider…again, very subjective and varies by case.
It totally varies case-by-case and the only you would know is to try and apply for it. If you have a valid reason and you are at loss, they may consider the expedite request. Again, it is up to the discretion of USCIS to take it or not.
What does NOT fall under USCIS Expedite Criteria ?
- Premium Processing: USCIS does not consider any of the above listed expedite criteria, if there is a premium processing option for the application for petition. In such cases, the applicant or beneficiary need to use the premium processing option, instead of the expedite request. Example : For H1B visa petition, there is premium processing, so you cannot use the expedite request for the same.
- Not in normal Processing time : USCIS does not generally consider expedite request, if you filed an application or petition and it is beyond the normal processing time. You can raise a service request, but just raising expedite request without documentation that meet the criteria will have it denied.
- EAD Application alone : USCIS will not consider expedite request, if you just filed a request stating that you filed EAD application as student or other visa type and want it for status or other benefits like getting job, etc. Just the EAD application alone will not get expedite request approval, you need to explain your compelling circumstances for expedite processing. Even users stating that they will lose their job, if no EAD, does not always get them expedite processing approved, it all is up to discretion of USCIS.
How to make Expedite Request with USCIS ?
Below are the typical steps to raise an expedite request with USCIS for an application for petition.
- Step 1 – Get Receipt Notice: The first step before you call is to make sure you have the receipt notice of the application or petition. You cannot expedite without having the receipt notice.
- Step 2 – Call USCIS Contact Center : Contact USCIS Contact Center at 1-800-375-5283 ( for TTY disability call 1-800-767-1833). Depending on your case receipt notice, you would be forwarded to the appropriate office that has jurisdiction over your case.
- The options might change. But, for now, here is the sequence. You can call the toll free number and press 1 –> 1 –> 2 –> 2 –> Call goes to a representative. Also, hit the option where you get to hear your case status (where the automated machine reads the same status which you see on the website). Let the message run completely and, in the end, they will ask you if you want to expedite the case. Once you do that wait for 15 to 40 mins to speak to an operator.
- Step 3 – Speak to Operator / Tier 1 or 2 Officer : You may need to wait anywhere from 15 min to 40 minutes during the process depending on how busy the line is. Make sure you get connected to at least Tier 1 or Tier 2 officer. Sometimes, the customer service rep may forward, sometimes they may not…so, it is a hit and a miss. Anyways, when you speak to the customer service, try to explain your situation and reason for expediting the case.
- Step 4 – Get Expedite Service Request Number: They will take all your details like receipt number, email id, etc. Once done, the customer service will give you Expedite Service Request Number, it will be the one that you will use to track your expedite request. You will get an email with the details of the expedite request.
- Step 5 – Expedite Request Tracking: Usually, when you raise an expedite request, your general case status on USCIS website gets tagged to this and you can track the status of your expedite request there. You can use your same Receipt Number to track the status. It is better seen, if you have an account. You can create an account at https://myaccount.uscis.gov/ or https://egov.uscis.gov/casestatus/landing.do and track it. Sometimes, the status may slightly different in both, due to sync issues…
- Step 6 – Get Email to Submit Details : If there is documentation needed, you will get an email with the details of the expedite request and the details of the email ID, where you would need to submit documents and supporting information for your expedite request. In some cases, some users do not get this email, so it all depends.
- Step 7 – Send Documentation for Expedite Request : You will need to submit all the required supporting documentation in one email to the email address that is given to you in the expedite request. You should not send multiple emails, you need to send everything in one big email. Try to put all the supporting documents one PDF file and send the same. The email will give you directions on how many pages are allowed ( 15 pages or less) and how to send.
- Step 8 – Expedite Request Decision : Usually you will get a response from them in less than a week, sometimes few days. If the expedite request is approved, they will inform the same via email. If it is denied, they will inform the same too via email. You can track the status of the same on USCIS case status by creating an account there. Below is sample screenshot of how Expedite request denial status looks like.
- Step 9 – Decision on the Petition or Application : If the expedite request was approved, based on the documentation you submitted, then you would see the decision on the application or petition soon, within a week or so. You can call customer service to confirm as well on the status.
USCIS Expedited Processing Time
The processing time for an expedited request with USCIS is anywhere from 30 to 45 days. Sometimes, users see response within 10 to 15 days, but it all varies by case and situation. Once your request expedited is accepted, it will be assigned to an officer and you will get an email from USCIS that states like below. It clearly tells that you should get a response from them within 45 days.
“…Your documents submitted meet the requirements for expedited processing of your application. You should receive a decision or notice of further action within 45 days….”
USCIS Expedite Request with Members of Congress
Sometimes, if you follow the above process, you may or may not get expedite request approved as it all depends on the Customer Service Rep or Tier 1 or Tier 2 officer. You can also pursue the expedite request using Members of Congress. This has worked for few users trying to expedite their application. For this you need to reach out to your members of congress/ congressman in your area. Check Find members of US congress to get their contact details and website info.
You can contact the members of US Congress using email or phone, and explain your situation just like you would do to a tier 2 officer. Usually, they would have a form on their website so that you can fill it out and someone from the Congressman office would contact you. You would need to submit all the same supporting documents that you would typically submit to USCIS for expediting the case.
There is a Congressional Liaison Specialist from USCIS who will work with the members of congress and give them an update. Again, even, if you submit using members of congress, it will rest in the hands of USCIS and their discretion. Just expediting a petition because you will lose job may not be compelling enough for qualifying for expedite request…
USCIS Expedite Request with Ombudsman
You can also try to expedite with Ombudsman. The office of Ombudsman is there to help in situations where an applicant is not able to directly get support from USCIS, despite their situation. Before you contact Ombudsman, you need to call USCIS directly and try out once or twice and then only come to Ombudsman. If you could not resolve or expedite your case despite your situation directly with USCIS, then you can contact Ombudsman office. You can reach out to them directly by filling out the Request on Ombudsman Office Webpage . You will need all the supporting documentation just like above. This has worked for few users.
Check out few H4 Expedite Request Experiences by 3 Users for the above listed options.
Common FAQs on Expedite Request
Yes, there is no rule as such that you can only try to expedite once. Some users have tried USCIS customer service first, then they tried Senator, then finally after two rejections, they went to Ombudsman and got it solved. So, there is no restriction.
Well, just loss of job on its own does not qualify for the expedite criteria to expedite EAD application. It needs to meet other general criteria of loss for individual or company.
There is no set timeline as such. It can take few days to few weeks. Usually, you will hear on the decision of the expedite request within 10 days or so. If your expedite request is approved, you would see decision on your application within few weeks. Many users have seen decisions in few days to 10 days.
Yes, you can appeal using the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO), but it may take a very long time…Check USCIS.gov AAO Processing Request for full details on the process.
You can check USCIS.gov website Expedite Request
What has been your experience with Expedite Request with USCIS ? Share your experiences.