USCIS Issues Updated Policy Guidance on Criteria for Expedite Requests

USCIS updated policy guidance in its Policy Manual regarding the criteria used to determine whether a case warrants expedited treatment.

The Policy Manual states that:

Expedite Criteria or Circumstances

On or after June 9, 2010, 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;
  • Emergencies and urgent humanitarian reasons;
  • 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;
  • 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); 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).

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

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Cite as AILA Doc. No. 21060936.

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