Chapter 5 - Requests to Expedite Applications or Petitions

Immigration benefit requestors may request that USCIS expedite the adjudication of their applications or petitions. USCIS considers all expedite requests on a case-by-case basis and generally requires documentation to support such requests. The decision to grant or deny an expedite request is within the sole discretion of USCIS.[1]

Expedite Criteria or Circumstances

On or after June 9, 2021,[2] USCIS may expedite a benefit request if it falls under one or more of the following criteria or circumstance:

  • Severe financial loss to a company or person, provided that the need for urgent action is not the result of the petitioner’s or applicant’s failure: (1) to timely file the benefit request; or (2) to timely respond to any requests for additional evidence;[3]

  • Emergencies and urgent humanitarian reasons;[4]

  • Nonprofit organization (as designated by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)) whose request is in furtherance of the cultural and social interests of the United States;[5]

  • U.S. government interests (including urgent cases for federal agencies such as the U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Department of Labor, DHS or other public safety or national security interests);[6] or

  • Clear USCIS error.

Severe Financial Loss as a Basis for Expedited Treatment

A company can demonstrate that it would suffer a severe financial loss if it is at risk of failing, losing a critical contract, or required to lay off other employees. For example, a medical office may suffer severe financial loss if a gap in a doctor’s employment authorization would require the medical practice to lay off its medical assistants.

The need to obtain employment authorization, standing alone, without evidence of other compelling factors, does not warrant expedited treatment. Job loss may be sufficient to establish severe financial loss for a person, depending on the individual circumstances. For example, the inability to travel for work that would result in job loss might warrant expedited treatment.

In addition, severe financial loss may also be established where failure to expedite would result in a loss of critical public benefits.

How USCIS Assesses Requests for Expedited Treatment

Not every circumstance that fits under one of the above listed categories or examples necessarily results in expedited processing.

USCIS generally does not consider expedite requests for petitions and applications where Premium Processing Service is available. However, a petitioner that is designated as a nonprofit organization by the IRS acting in furtherance of the cultural and social interests of the United States may request that the benefit it seeks be expedited without a fee, even if premium processing is available for that benefit. USCIS retains discretion to deny that request. The same petitioner may also request premium processing for the benefit like any other petitioner if it chooses to do so.

Expedited processing of benefit requests for noncitizens with final orders of removal or noncitizens in removal proceedings is coordinated between USCIS and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).[7]

To increase efficiency in the review and processing of expedite requests, USCIS does not provide justification or otherwise respond regarding decisions on expedite requests.

USCIS provides more information on how to make an expedite request on the How to Make an Expedite Request webpage.


[^ 1] For more information on expedite requests for adjudications of asylum applications, see the Affirmative Asylum Procedures Manual (PDF, 1.83 MB), Section III.B. Categories of Cases, Part 7, Expeditious Processing Required, and the Affirmative Asylum Interview Scheduling webpage. Expedite requests for refugee cases should be made to the applicable U.S.  Department of State Resettlement Support Center, which facilitates informing the appropriate party of the expedite request.

[^ 2] USCIS updated its policy regarding requests to expedite applications or petitions on June 9, 2021; the update became effective upon publication.

[^ 3] A timely filed request or response means a request or response that was filed by the relevant deadline; the request need not be filed at the earliest opportunity. If the requestor failed to timely file a request or response, the requestor must show that such failure was due to circumstances beyond the requestor’s control.

[^ 4] For example, the requestor is gravely ill and has a critical need to travel to obtain medical treatment in a limited amount of time, or where a vulnerable person’s safety may be compromised due to a breach of confidentiality if there is a delay in processing of the benefit application. See 8 U.S.C. 1367. A benefit requestor’s desire to travel for vacation would not, in general, meet the definition of an emergency.

[^ 5] For example, an organization broadcasting in regional areas to promote democratic interests.

[^ 6] The national interest need must be immediate and substantive. If the need for the action is not immediate, expedited processing is not warranted. A substantive need does not mean that a delay would pose existential or irreversible consequences to the U.S. national interests but rather that the case at hand is of a scale or a uniqueness that requires immediate action to prevent real and serious harm to U.S. interests. 

Current as of October 20, 2021