How to Expedite Your Immigration Case
A question I get often is “How can I expedite my immigration case.” Exploring a case for factors that would require or warrant an expedite request is one of the first things I discuss with a new client.
I recently had a United States citizen client who found out his girlfriend in the Philippines was expecting their child. We filed a fiancée visa petition, but the expected processing time would have been in excess of nine months. If the K-1 visa could not be granted before her third trimester, her physician was not going to allow her to travel. Though their child would be considered a United States citizen at birth, we would have required a record of birth abroad and the Philippines government is notoriously slow at processing the form of birth certificate that would have been required. This family could have remained separated for many months if we didn’t act fast.
I submitted an expedite request outlining all of these factors, which the immigration services approved quickly. I then helped the couple get their paperwork prepared for the visa interview, and the visa was granted within a few weeks. Happily their child was born in the United States, saving the family a great deal of stress, separation time and expense.
Based on my experience in getting immigration cases expedited, the most important thing to do is start with a correctly filed case. You must choose the right type of immigration benefit for your situation. You must file the petition and all supporting documents correctly the first time. Attempting to expedite a case with errors will result in a rejection of the expedite request (and under new rules) may result the denial of the entire case.
Next, you must look at the criteria the immigration services has set forth. Your case must meet one of these requirements:
Severe financial loss to a company or person
Urgent humanitarian reasons
Compelling United States government interests
Clear USCIS error
To start an expedite request, you must have already filed your case and have a receipt number. Call the USCIS Contact Center at 1-800-375-5283. Have supporting evidence and documents ready to submit if requested.
There are some cases which cannot be expedited this way. Requests for expedited processing on asylum cases must be made with the asylum office where the case is pending. Requests related to refugee processing must be sent to the resettlement support center processing the case overseas.
One last tip, if you are a priority relative, meaning your case requires a current priority date, an expedite request will only result in a decision on your petition. In some cases, there is a benefit to a long-pending petition. Regardless, a priority date cannot be expedited. No amount of expedite requests will result in a visa for someone whose priority date is not current.
If your expedite request with USCIS is denied, don’t give up right away. You can also try a congressional inquiry. If that fails, your last option will probably be what we call a Mandamus Action. That means you are filing a lawsuit against the government and asking a court to compel the services to make a decision on your case.