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 kind of application, many a time, you are stuck waiting for the USCIS response for a long time. Many of these forms do not have the premium processing option to pay a certain fee and get a faster response.
Also, sometimes, your situation may change, and you may need a faster decision from USCIS. This is where the USCIS expedite request process comes into the picture. In this article, we will look at what is an expedite request with USCIS, what are the USCIS criteria for it, what is not eligible for the expedite process, how to submit an expedite request, and how to track the status of the same, including some common FAQs.
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 a 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? Requirements?
In general, any applicant with a pending petition or application with USCIS can submit an expedite request, but it is up to USCIS to approve it 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 expedited processing.
USCIS updated its 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.
List of USCIS Expedite Request Criteria/ Requirements
- Severe loss to a company or person:
- To be eligible under this criteria, USCIS will first verify, if you have filed the application or petition on time and if the reason for expediting the request is not because of your last-minute filing.
- Also, if there were any requests for evidence (RFE) issued, they will look at your response times, and whether you have provided the details on time or not.
- Once they believe, the application was filed properly and you responded well, then they will look at the circumstances of the individual filing it and the loss to the individual or company.
- You need to provide all the documentation and proof indicating that there will be a loss to the person or company.
- The person requesting should provide genuine proof 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 the need for critical medical treatment with time-sensitive action, assisting a family member who has severe illness or disease, the degree of suffering of the individual or family member, natural disaster, the need for a hospital stay, health care workers helping with a national emergency such as COVID-19 pandemic, etc. Again, this is very broad and totally up to the USCIS’s discretion.
- Nonprofit Organizations (as designated by IRS) :
- Firstly, the organization seeking the expedited request has to be designated by Internal Revenue Service(IRS) as a non-profit to use this criterion.
- Nonprofit Organization requests, that there is an urgent need for their members to work on a project that is focused on the development of cultural and social interests of the United States. Examples like medical research for COVID-19, participating in mandatory cultural interest programs, etc.
- Any of these non-profit organizations, even if they have premium processing available for the forms they filed, can still request expedited processing without paying the premium processing fee for getting a decision faster. This new criterion was added by Biden administration as part of policy update in June 2021.
- Compelling US Govt. Interests :
- If the adjudication of the application or petition is tied to US national or Govt. interests. It could be urgent cases for the US Dept of Defense, DHS, or any national security or interest.
- Also, any federal agency that sees the need to expedite for public safety or national security interests, should send the request from a senior-level official of that agency.
- USCIS Error:
- If there is a clear USCIS Error, then they may consider it for expedited processing well.
- An example could be if you got the wrong dates in your petition decision and you would lose status due to the mistake of USCIS or some critical errors tied to your status or EAD application.
- You need to demonstrate the same that it is a USCIS error and not your mistake in filling out the application.
Common USCIS Expedite Request criteria for EAD Applications
One of the very common expedite requests that are raised with USCIS are tied to the processing of EAD (Employment Authorization Document) applications. 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, and 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 the above general guidance, you need to prove that, if you do not have EAD adjudicated on time, there will be a 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 the 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 your job and say, if you have a critical illness for you or your family has the same and you would end up in a very dire situation if EAD is not approved on time…again, very subjective and vary 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 a petition. In such cases, the applicant or beneficiary needs to use the premium processing option, instead of the expedite request. Example: For an H1B visa petition, there is premium processing, so you cannot use the expedite request for the same.
- Outside of normal processing times: USCIS does not generally consider an expedited request if the filed application or petition’s processing time is beyond the normal processing time for that form/application. If the processing time of your petition or application is outside of the normal processing times, you can only raise a service request with USCIS. If you just raise an expedited request without documentation that meets the expedite request criteria, it will be denied.
- EAD Application alone: USCIS will not consider an expedite request, if you just filed a request stating that you filed an EAD application as a student or other visa type and want it for status or other benefits like getting a job, etc. Just the EAD application alone will not get expedite request approval, you need to explain your compelling circumstances for expedited processing. Even users stating that they will lose their job, if no EAD, does not always get them to expedite processing approved, it all is up to the discretion of USCIS.
How to make an Expedite Request with USCIS?
Below is a step-by-step guide to raising an expedite request with USCIS for an application or a petition pending with them.
- Step 1 – Get Receipt Notice: The first step before you call to expedite is to make sure you have the receipt notice of the pending application or petition. You cannot expedite without having the receipt notice for the application or petition.
- 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.
- These call options might change. But, for now, here is the sequence.
- Call the toll-free number 1-800-375-5283 and press 1 –> 1 –> 2 –> 2 –> Call goes to a representative. Also, press 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.
- Do not hang up after 5 or 10 min, the wait times can be long, you may need to wait anywhere from a few minutes to 40 minutes to speak to someone.
- Step 3 – Speak to Operator / Tier 1 or 2 Officer: When you get connected, you need to make sure you get connected to at least Tier 1 or Tier 2 officer. Sometimes, the customer service rep may forward, and sometimes they may not…so, it is a hit and a miss. Anyways, when you speak to customer service, try to explain your situation and the 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, 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 the 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 be 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 Tracking, 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 or check USCIS Case Status on their website .
- You will see the statuses “Expedite Request Received” followed by “Expedite Request Approved”, if the request was approved. If denied, then you will see the status “Expedite Request Denied”. Check next section on what you would see online and what each status means.
- 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.
Track USCIS Expedite Request Status, Meaning
You can check the status of your expedited request on the USCIS Case Status page by entering your receipt number. You will typically see three main statuses after you submit an expedite request with USCIS as listed below.
- Expedite Request Received
- Expedite Request Approved
- Expedite Request Denied
Expedite Request Received: You will see the status, “Expedite Status Received”, soon after your request was accepted by the USCIS. It means that your request to expedite your pending application/petition with USCIS was received by them. You will see this status online on USCIS case status website, when you enter your USCIS application or petition case number. It looks like in the below screenshot.
Expedite Request Approved: The status will change from “Expedite Status Received” to “Expedite Request Approved”, if the request you submitted was approved by USCIS. It means that your request to expedite your pending application/petition with USCIS was approved based on the supporting info you submitted and it will be processed in an expedited fashion immediately. You will see the updated status online on USCIS case status website, when you enter your USCIS application or petition case number. It looks like in the below screenshot.
Expedite Request Denied: The status will change from “Expedite Status Received” to “Expedite Request Denied”, if the request you submitted was not approved by USCIS. It means that your request to expedite your pending application/petition with USCIS was denied as the supporting info you submitted did not fulfill the expedite request criteria. You will also see the updated status online on the USCIS case status website and looks like in the below screenshot.
USCIS Expedited Processing Time
The processing time for an expedited request with USCIS is anywhere from 30 to 45 days. Sometimes, users see a 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’ss 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 the 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 it 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 the Ombudsman’s 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 a few users.
Check out a 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 a 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 individuals or company.
There is no set timeline as such. It can take a few days to a few weeks. Usually, you will hear about the decision to the expedite request within 10 days or so. If your expedite request is approved, you would see a decision on your application within a few weeks. Many users have seen decisions in a 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 the USCIS.gov website Expedite Request
No, they do not need to give you any explanation on why they denied an expedite request. As per the guidelines, it is their discretion and there is no mandatory rule for them to give an explanation to anyone why they denied an expedite request.
What has been your experience with Expedite Request with USCIS? Share your experiences in comments section below.