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Guide to USCIS Expedite Requests
USCIS is the office that deals with most immigrant requests, so the majority of the immigrants in the United States have to deal with them. On a daily basis, USCIS has to adjudicate around 30,000 immigration benefits requests, as well as 3,000 applications for sponsoring future spouses and relatives. In some of these cases, though, the situation of many immigrants changes, and they cannot really wait too long for USCIS to take their time. What can be done to get a faster response from USCIS? It sounds like a job for the expedite request.
What Is a USCIS Expedite Request?
Many people submit petitions and applications at USCIS, and then they have to wait for a decision from them. But when there are circumstances changing due to work, family, health or anything else, you may need the decision to come sooner. Waiting around hoping that USCIS may simply work faster won’t help. Instead, you should submit a USCIS expedite request, which will help USCIS give you a decision sooner than the processing time initially intended. As a result, you will not have to wait any longer for the decision, thus making it in time for whatever you need.
Criteria for Making an Expedite Request
Although submitting a USCIS expedite request is possible for everyone, it is ultimately up to USCIS to decide whether they accept your request or not. In general, they will consider requests depending on the particular case. Before considering a case for expedite processing, they will look at the documentation that supports your expedite request in the first place. So, the better the documentation you have, the higher the chances to have your expedite request accepted.
Nevertheless, USCIS made updates to their criteria for expedite requests and, ever since May 2019, they are a little stricter. Here are the criteria to keep in mind before you make an expedite request:
- An error by USCIS – There are high chances that an expedite request will be taken into account if there is a USCIS error. For instance, if there is a wrong date in your petition, you would risk losing your status, all due to USCIS making a mistake. Therefore, it may be considered in this case, but only if you could prove that it was USCIS making an error and not you.
- Humanitarian reasons: In special situations, the expedite request can be accepted if there are urgent humanitarian reasons behind. To give an example, you may have a family member in need of treatment, or you may need some critical medical treatment with time-sensitive action. These are only a few examples, and there could be way more based on what USCIS considers a valid humanitarian reason.
- Severe loss to a person or company: This is another thing that could help you have your expedite request accepted. USCIS will take a look at the filing time and your responses to be eligible. They will check your response times for RFE or additional evidence info, as well as whether your application was filed on time and not at the last minute. If everything is alright, they will then look at your circumstances and the loss of a company or person. To make it believable, you need proper evidence of this happening.
- Compelling U.S. Government Interests: In the event that your petition or application adjudication has anything to do with U.S. Government or national interests, then your expedite request will be taken into account and has high chances to be accepted. This could include urgent cases for national interest or security, DHS or the U.S. Dept. of Defense.
Exceptions to Expedite Requests
Of course, there are some exceptions to expedite requests, such as:
If the petition or application that you submitted has a premium processing option, then USCIS will not consider any of the criteria. You will have to use the premium processing option instead of an expedite request. An H1B visa is a great example – it has premium processing available, so expedite requests cannot be used.
Requests Beyond the Regular Processing Window
You have to keep in mind that if you file an application or petition beyond the normal processing window, the expedite request will not be considered by USCIS. A service request may work, but otherwise, making an expedite request without having the proper documentation will not help it get accepted.
If you have a request that shows that you filed an EAD application as any visa type or a student and want it for status or other benefits, USCIS will not consider your request. You have to explain your compelling circumstances, so don’t expect the EAD application alone to help your request get approved.
How to Make an Expedite Request with USCIS
If you want to make a USCIS expedite request, then you need to follow the steps presented below.
Get Receipt Notice
Before you make a call, you need to make sure that you have the receipt notice of your petition or application. Otherwise, you cannot expedite.
Call USCIS Contact Center
The next step is calling the USCIS contact center. It can be easily done by calling at 1-800-375-5283 (or 1-800-767-1833 for TTY disability call). The operator will then forward you to an office that has jurisdiction over your case.
You can also call the toll free number and press 1 – 1 – 2 – 2, and then the call will go to a representative. Of course, the options might change, but this is just for general guidance. Then, you need to hit the option that takes you to hear your case status. An automated machine will read the same status that you see on the website. After the message runs to the end, you will be asked if you want to expedite the case. If you do, you will have to wait between 15 and 40 minutes until you can talk to an operator.
Speak to Operator / Tier 1 or 2 Officer
After waiting for a good amount of minutes, you will talk to the operator or officer. You need to ensure you talk to at least Tier 1 or Tier 2 officers. There are cases when the customer service rep may forward, but it doesn’t happen all the time. Tell them about the situation and give the reason for the expedite request.
Get Expedite Service Request Number
Information such as email id, receipt number, and others will be taken from you. Afterward, you’ll get an Expedite Service Request Number from the Customer service. It will help you track your expedite request.
Expedite Request Tracking
You will usually be able to track your expedite request on the USCIS website. This can be done with the Receipt number, and having an account will make it easier for you to see it.
Get Email to Submit Details
An email may be received, stating that you need to submit proper documents and supporting information for your expedite request.
Send Documentation for Expedite Request
Make sure that you submit all the necessary documents in a single email address. They should be in a PDF file, and no more than 15 pages should be used.
Expedite Request Decision
It takes a few days to receive a response from USCIS, less than a week in general. Whether your request is approved or denied, you will be announced through an email.
Decision on the Petition or Application
If you were lucky enough to have your expedite request approved, then you will see your application or petition decision soon. It should take around a week.
USCIS Expedite Request with Members of Congress
Something that you need to be aware of is that the approval or denial of your expedite request may depend on the Tier 1 or Tier 2 officer or the Customer Service Rep. However, you can also use Members of Congress if you are trying to expedite.
To make this possible, you need to reach out to the congress members in your area, by looking up their website info and contact details. Once you find them, you need to call them or send them an email explaining your situation. Conversely, there are cases when there’s a form you can fill out on their website, after which you wait for them to contact you. Just like you would with USCIS, you will have to submit proper supporting documents. But it will still depend on the discretion of USCIS whether your expedite request gets approved or not.
USCIS Expedite Request with Ombudsman
Another option would be trying Ombudsman for expedite requests. If you cannot get direct support from USCIS, you can reach out to the Ombudsman office and try to get help. You need to call USCIS one or two times first, and then only go to Ombudsman. Reaching out to them can be done by filling out the Ombudsman Office Webpage Request. Again, you will need supporting documentation for this.
- How Do I Speak to a Live Person at USCIS?
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- How Do I Know Which USCIS Service Center?
- How Do I Know If USCIS Received My Application?
- What “Country of Residence” and How to Know Yours When on a Visa
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A USCIS expedite request will be helpful if, for various reasons, you need a faster decision on your petition or application. But in the end, you need to understand that it all depends on USCIS to accept or deny your request. Hopefully, this guide helped you understand how a request works and how you can make one.