On June 9, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) updated its policy guidance on the expedited treatment of pending petitions and applications.  The new updates, now included in the USCIS Policy Manual, restore the ability for IRS-designated nonprofit organizations to request expedited service, when the request “is in furtherance of the cultural and social interests of the United States,” regardless of whether premium processing is available.  Petitioners, regardless of tax status, may also request expedited processing in the following situations:

  • 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 to file or respond timely to USCIS;
  • Emergencies and urgent humanitarian reasons;
  • U.S. government interests (including urgent cases for federal agencies or other public safety or national security interests); or
  • Clear USCIS error.

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.

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

USCIS, however, generally does not consider expedite requests for petitions and applications where Premium Processing Service is available.

The new guidance pertains only to USCIS, a component of the Department of Homeland Security.  It does not apply to requests to expedite visa service at an embassy or consulate overseas, a process managed by the Department of State.