USCIS Updates Expedite Request Policy

On Monday, January 25, 2022, USCIS issued a Policy Alert updating the requirements to obtain an expedite. USCIS updated its policy guidance to clarify the criteria and circumstances that may warrant
expediting the adjudication of a benefit request as well as explaining how USCIS assesses expedite requests. This update, contained in Volume 1, Chapter 5 of the USCIS Policy Manual, is effective immediately. The guidance contained in the Policy Manual is controlling and supersedes any related prior guidance.

The main changes to the Expedite Request Policy is in the clarifications.

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.”

This is a significant change. Many individuals waiting for their EAD are critical to research grants and contracts, if the delay in the EAD would create a risk of losing or seriously affecting a grant or contract. A letter from the employer explaining the risk and critical nature of the employees’ contributions should suffice under the new standard.

“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. The need to obtain employment authorization, standing alone, without evidence of other compelling factors, does not warrant expedited treatment.”

This is also a major change. For the first time, USCIS has specifically stated that “Job loss” is a basis of claiming severe financial loss. Despite this change, it is still determined on a case by case basis and is still discretionary with the adjudicating officer. However, the language itself is encouraging and can be used along with additional evidence of financial impact to request an expedite. Additionally, the “inability to travel for work” indicates that USCIS may consider an expedite of both the Employment Authorization and Advance Parole where an individual needs to travel for work but would not otherwise be able to, putting their job at risk. A letter from the employer would be required in this circumstance.

Expedited Treatment Based on Emergency or Urgent Humanitarian Reason

“In the context of an expedite request, humanitarian reasons are those related to human welfare. Examples may include, but are not limited to, illness, disability, extreme living conditions, death in the family, or a critical need to travel to obtain medical treatment in a limited amount of time. An emergency may include an urgent need to expedite employment authorization for healthcare workers during a national emergency such as the COVID-19 pandemic… A benefit requestor’s desire to travel for vacation does not, in general, meet the definition of an emergency.”

This clarifies what is needed for an expedite of advance parole, and is now clearly setting out in writing what the general understanding has been regarding what is needed to successfully request advance parole. To obtain advance parole through the expedite process, supporting evidence such as a letter from a treating physician is typically necessary. The advance parole expedites can be done at a local USCIS office. The additional language related to healthcare workers under Emergency or Humanitarian Reasons is extremely important. The recent directive related to EAD expedites for essential workers was limited to EAD renewals. This language indicates that the same directive can be argued for the expediting of the initial EAD. As with the EAD renewal expedite, a letter from the employer will be necessary to support the request.

With the new guidance, we are hopeful that USCIS will at least request and review the evidence supporting an Expedite Request and not continue to summarily deny them without reviewing the supporting evidence. If you require assistance with an EAD or AP expedite, please feel free to contact our office.

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