On May 10, 2019, USCIS updated its policy on Expedite Requests, effective immediately. We previously blogged about expedite processing requests in the context of EB-5 applications, but this new policy applies to the adjudication of an application or petition for an immigration benefit by USCIS, though some exceptions apply. Here are five things to know about requesting an expedite of an application or petition by USCIS:
1. Criteria. The criteria have been narrowed, and USCIS will only consider an expedite request if it meets one of the following criteria: (a) urgent humanitarian reasons; (b) compelling U.S. government interests (such as public safety and national security interests); (c) an error on the part of USCIS; or (d) severe financial loss to a company or person.
2. Severe Financial Loss. While documentation is required to support any expedite request, USCIS states that where a company or individual claims “severe financial loss,” the actual loss must be documented, and the requestor must demonstrate that he/she/it is not able to withstand the temporary financial loss that is the natural result of normal processing times. Additionally, “severe financial loss” is not warranted if the petitioner or applicant failed to file the benefit request in a reasonable time frame or failed to respond to a request for evidence in a reasonably timely manner. Notably, USCIS’ policy states that the need to obtain employment authorization or student status, standing alone, without any evidence of other compelling factors, does not warrant expedited treatment.
3. Not Available if Premium Processing Allowed. USCIS does not consider expedite requests for petitions and applications that have Premium Processing service available (like most Form I-129 and Form I-140 petitions).
4. Making an Expedite Request on Phone. It’s possible to make an expedite request by contacting USCIS at 1-800-375-5283 after receiving a receipt notice. The USCIS Contact Center will not be able to refer the expedite request to the appropriate office without a receipt number. When you call to request expedited processing, the USCIS Contact Center creates and forwards a service request to the office with jurisdiction over your application or petition.
5. USCIS Responses. After receiving the service request, the reviewing officer may request additional documentation to support expedited processing. However, a decision on a request for an expedite does not constitute an approval or denial of the underlying application or petition; if the request is granted, it merely informs the requestor that USCIS will issue a decision faster than the normal processing time. Further, to increase efficiency in the review and processing of expedite requests, USCIS is not required to provide justification (or even respond to the requestor) regarding decisions on expedite requests.