Immigrate

6 min read

April 30, 2021

Do You Need USCIS To Expedite Your Request?

Requesting an immigration benefit can take a long time — here’s one way to change that.

Applying for an immigration benefit from the United States can be an intimidating process. There are so many aspects to it that are out of your control. One of the most challenging aspects to making this request is factoring in the amount of time it will take to adjudicate, or process, that request.

While the United States Customs and Immigration Service does provide general guidance for how long it may take to process a benefit request, that guidance is general for a reason.

In fact, as many applicants discovered during 2020, there are a dizzying number of unexpected situations that may impact USCIS’s ability to process your request. These external situations may include, but aren’t limited to, the following: a global pandemic, weather-related issues, political changes, and technology issues. 

If the prospect of waiting for the answer to your request for months on end is too stressful or may negatively impact your long term professional goals or personal situation, then you may want to consider putting in a USCIS Expedited Request.   

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What is a USCIS Expedite Request?

Put simply, this is a request that applicants can make to push their immigration decision forward. Instead of waiting for months or potentially years to find out if your immigration benefit has been approved or denied by USCIS, your USCIS expedite request will let you know within a maximum of 45 or so calendar days according to many only sources if that request has been approved or denied. 

However, you should check with the USCIS Check Case processing link for processing time related to your specific USCIS expedite request. This is an estimated time frame and may be subject to change. 

Are You Eligible for a USCIS Expedite Request? 

There are a few additional pieces of information that you need to know before moving forward with this type of request. Surprisingly enough, this type of request doesn’t seem to  have a fee attached to it as there are no details specific to a USCIS expedite request fee on the USCIS portal.  

  • The request can’t be arbitrary. There are strict reasons around why an applicant would make an expedite request and actually have the request approved. While an applicant may be concerned about starting a job sooner, perhaps their personal situation has begun to change and they’re hoping that USCIS will say “yes” to their request as soon as possible. This would likely fall under an arbitrary request outside of the true intent of this type of request.  In recent years, USCIS seems to be signaling that they are not as flexible as you think about the reasons people put in for an expedited request. 
  • You can’t make an expedited request if Premium Processing has already been requested. Premium Processing is somewhat similar to an expedited request. This option is available to the following benefit seekers only: future Alien Workers and Non-Immigrant Worker requests. 

It’s important to note that processed requests under Premium Processing are supposed to take a maximum of 15 calendar days to get an approval or denial of the initial request. You do also have to pay to apply for Premium Processing and the fee range is between $1400-$2550. If you decide that Premium Processing is appropriate for your situation, adjust your overall immigration budget to account for this new expense.

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How to Make a USCIS Expedite Request

Before you get started, make sure to gather all of the documentation related to your case. Do your research and be clear about why you’re making this request. If you’re unable to substantiate why you’re making this request, it’s likely that your application will be denied. 

Even though you can begin the process without legal representation, seeking out guidance from an immigration lawyer may keep you from making mistakes that may impact the final outcome of your request.

The initial process is fairly straightforward:

  1. Gather all relevant documentation and receipt numbers in the event that you’re asked for that information. 
  1. Call 1-800-767-1833 and follow the prompts as given.
  1. Use EMMA, USCIS’s virtual assistant. You will also see her chat box located in the upper right-hand corner of the USCIS website when browsing on most pages. Again, have all of your questions and previously received documentation on hand before engaging with either option of communication.

When Will You Learn About the Result? 

Unfortunately, there’s no clear guidance on how quickly an applicant will discover the results to their request. Because these are considered on a case-by-case basis, the end result is dependent upon how the USCIS official perceives the validity of your request. 

If you are filing for an appeal of a previously made adjudicated decision, you can also expedite that request. Do your research and work with a qualified professional before you get started. 

Applying for immigration-related benefits can be stressful because of the amount of uncertainty around the process. For qualified applicants, an expedited request may be a helpful way to find out the final results of your request.

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Michelle Jackson
With 10+ years of experience working in the immigration and personal finance space, Michelle has written for leading publications like Business Insider and Vice.

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