US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) can take 6-12 months to approve and issue work and travel authorization documents. In some cases, delays in processing can create significant hardships for organizations, families, and individuals. In qualifying situations, USCIS may expedite the processing of your work and/or travel authorization. Here’s how it works.
When should I file for an extension of my work and/or travel authorization?
If you currently have work or travel authorization, it is best to file for an extension as far in advance as possible. An extension can be filed up to 6 months in advance of expiration. In many cases, extensions for work authorization receive an automatic 180-day extension pending a final decision from USCIS. So the best plan is to plan ahead!
When will USCIS consider expedited processing?
USCIS will only consider an expedite request for work or travel authorization under the following narrow circumstances:
- Severe financial loss to a company or person provided that the need for urgent action is not the result of the applicant’s failure to (1) timely file the benefit request, or (2) timely respond to any requests for additional reasons
- Emergencies and urgent humanitarian reasons
- A nonprofit organization (as designated by the Internal Revenue Service) whose request is in furtherance of the cultural and social interests of the United States
- US government interests (including urgent cases for federal agencies such as the US Department of Defense, US Department of Labor, DHS, or other public safety or national security interests)
- Clear USCIS error
How do I make a request for expedited processing?
You can generally request expedited processing through the USCIS Contact Center at 1 (800) 375-5283 after you have obtained 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.
How long will an expedited request take?
After receiving the service request, the reviewing office may request additional documentation to support expedited processing. A decision on an expedite request is not an approval or a denial of the underlying benefit request. The expedited decision simply informs the requestor whether USCIS will take the benefit request out of date order and issue a decision (approval or denial) faster than the normal processing time. NOTE: Even if USCIS approves the expedite request, it may take several weeks for the documents to be issued.
What about the biometrics requirement?
USCIS will NOT consider a request to expedite a case until the applicant has been fingerprinted (Biometrics) or fingerprinting has been waived due to a prior application. The requirement for biometrics to be completed before requesting expedited processing makes it difficult to expedite first-time applications.
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