The USCIS Updates Guidance for Requests to Expedite Processing

In the last few years, federal immigration officials have had severe backlogs in processing some immigration applications. The most prominent reason for these delays is the COVID-19 pandemic which caused the Application Support Centers and Field Offices to be closed. Another issue being an increase in the number of applications and petitions that the agency received. These delays have disrupted the lives of thousands of people looking to work in the United States and the companies trying to hire these individuals.

Due to these delays, many people have been asking to expedite the pending petitions and applications. Because of these requests, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has updated its policy manual to explain the circumstances and criteria necessary to request expedited processing. Here are the criteria necessary to request expedited processing.

Required Criteria or Circumstances to Expedite Processing

Five criteria will be looked at when deciding whether or not your request for expedited processing will be granted.

  • Severe Financial Loss: Companies can ask the USCIS to expedite their application or petition, such as an application for an employee or a pending work authorization. A company is required to show that it would suffer extreme financial loss if the USCIS does not expedite the process. Qualified losses could be situations such as the need to lay off employees or lose a contract. Individuals can also request that the USCIS expedite their processing of a pending application for items, including work permit applications. Although to qualify, they would need to show that they would lose their job if the application is not expedited and therefore suffer a severe financial loss.
  • Non-profit Organization: Non-profit organizations may request expedited processing for one of their beneficiaries. The USCIS may consider the beneficiary’s role in furthering cultural or social interests when making its decision.
  • Urgent or Emergency Humanitarian Reason: There are many possible humanitarian reasons, such as illness, death in the family, an urgent need to travel to procure medical treatment in a limited amount of time, or disability. Additionally, an urgent need to obtain employment authorization for a health care worker during the continuing COVID-19 pandemic may also be considered an emergency reason.
  • United States Government Interests: Government agencies may request expedited processing for cases that other government agencies have pointed out as being urgent, including employment and labor agencies, national security interests, and public agencies, as well as other cases.
  • Other Circumstances: If a petition or application requires an on-site inspection, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services suggests that the request to expedite be submitted once the inspection is conducted. This should also be done when the request for expedited processing is secondary to a primary petition or application that is currently pending.

The USCIS handles all requests on a case-by-case basis. It decides whether or not to grant expedited processing. Employers or individuals requesting expedited processing of their applications or petitions should include any evidence they believe will support their case.

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