Author: Guy Pearson
Every year, many active duty military members seek expedite on their petition due to circumstances beyond their control. Whether it be a deployment, change of station or a humanitarian assignment, many need the option to speed up their process. Additionally, non-military members are eligible for expedite of their case as well.
Who is eligible?
Anyone serving on active duty or a reserve component in Title 10 status and facing a pending deployment, permanent change of station, or a humanitarian assignment have the opportunity to petition USCIS for an expedite on their case. One of the biggest challenges facing active duty military families is that there are circumstances beyond their control that force them to make decisions that are not always their first preference. USCIS knows this, and is very helpful when it comes to dealing with the military. Upon setup of their hotline (1-877-CIS-4MIL) for military members, they offer the opportunity to K1, K3, IR-1, CR-1 applications the chance to request that USCIS moves their case along faster than normal processing times for the benefit of the military member.
How to expedite
If you are currently on active duty and seeking expedite on your petition, you will need to provide the USCIS with proper reasoning and documentation to support the reason. Many folks expedite their cases over an impending deployment, so they would send the USCIS a copy of their deployment orders. USCIS officially states that they require the following:
- A letter written and signed by you that explains why your application or petition should be expeditiously processed,
- A copy of your military orders or a letter from your commanding officer regarding your deployment or situation, and
- 3. Any other information you feel will support your request for expedite.
I have seen quite a few get expedited just from a letter of Commander, but it is ultimately up to the USCIS to decide this. My wife and I received expedite from simply providing a letter signed by our Unit Deployment Manager that I was inside of my bucket to deploy.
Tips for non-military members seeking expedite:
There seems to be confusion on whether the USCIS allows expedites in other situation. The answer is yes. When calling their hotline, they mention that they do review expedites on a case-by-case basis, and it does have to meet the threshold for a ’emergency’ type situation. Officially, USCIS states that you must meet the following conditions:
- Severe financial loss to company or individual
- Extreme emergent situation
- Humanitarian situation
- Nonprofit status of requesting organization in furtherance of the cultural and social interests of the United States
- Department of Defense or National Interest Situation (Note: Request must come from official United States Government entity and state that delay will be detrimental to our Government)
- USCIS error
- Compelling interest of USCIS
If you feel you meet the requirements above, give the USCIS customer service a call to request expedite. Note: you must provide proper documentation within 20 business days to be eligible, otherwise it will be denied.
Whether military or non-military, you will have to either fax or mail these requests to them, and wait (sometimes up to 60 days) for a response. However, if you don’t hear anything back within 30 days, you can always call to check on the status of your expedite.
Guy Pearson is currently in the United States Air Force and co-founded immiTranslate.com, which provides certified translation services to United States visa applicants and their attorneys. He and his wife went through the K1 visa process in 2012, and are celebrating one year of marriage in December.