How to expedite USCIS applications (Employment authorization/EAD)
Earlier this year, I had to take a leave of absence from work because my employment authorization expired and the renewal didn’t come in time despite proper filing. I know there might be thousands or more of us that have been in the same boat so I’m going to clarify the process and share what worked for me.
Please note that expedite requests should only be reserved for true emergencies such as when you’re going to run out of money, lose a job, get kicked out of an apartment, etc. I know that it sucks that it takes that kind of an emergency for USCIS to consider a request, but they’re people too and have workloads that border on insanity. The US government is struggling to retain workers and hire new ones too and as difficult as it may be to sympathize with them over you, that’s what is being considered by people working there.
USCIS considers expedite requests on a case-by-case basis and has three criteria or circumstances:
Severe financial loss to a company or person
Emergencies and urgent humanitarian reasons
Nonprofit organization (as designated by the Internal Revenue Service) whose request is in furtherance of the cultural or social interests of the United States
Now, for most of you economic hardship, or a loss of a job is the reason why you’re looking to expedite I-765 EAD applications. Considering that, the process I’d recommend is:
- Call USCIS at 800–375–5283. I would say “Infopass” when the automated system asks you to state why you’re calling. This will get you connected to an agent after a short-ish wait period.
- Once connected the agent will ask for basic information about you such as your name, address, alien number, and so on.
- Next, tell them you’d like to expedite your EAD application because you and (if applicable) your employer are suffering severe economic hardship because you cannot work or will lose work authorization. They’ll ask if you have documented proof, and you’ll of course, say yes. They’ll tell you that you’ll receive an email from USCIS shortly (usually within a week).
- The email from USCIS will ask for proof of economic hardship. Here’s where you’re going to have to make a pretty darn good case. I would recommend writing a cover letter such as the one I wrote.
- Make sure that you state that you filed your EAD renewal application on time (within 90 days of expiry), the date you filed, the date the EAD expires, and the date the automatic extension expires (if you qualify for an automatic extension).
- Next, in table format, list your monthly expenses. EVERY SINGLE one of them. Rent/mortgage, insurance, car, gas, electric, heat, water, credit card payments, phone bills, etc. ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING. Total the amount. Mention how much you have in savings and how long that will last you. The reviewers at USCIS are humans too, so the more emotionally impactful this loss is, the more it will sway them.
- Then, talk about your job. What you do for a living. What your company does. How your work is essential for your company. Most importantly, how much financially your employer will lose if you don’t work on whatever projects you’re working on. Total it and state it in terms of percent of the company’s revenue. I work for a small company and so the loss to my company was much more impactful. I’m sure you can make a case regardless of the size of the company you work for. My company was going to lose 11% of forecast revenue for the year and we would have suffered severely if I didn’t work. Not to mention how my family and I would’ve struggled immensely without my income.
- Now you need to back all of these statements up with solid proof. Bank statements from the 3 months prior that show your income and expenses. Utility bills, credit card bills, phone bills, etc. Whatever you’ve tabulated previously needs to have documented proof attached. Gather all of these for the 3 months prior and convert all of them to a single pdf (including the cover letter).
Now you should have the info package necessary to respond to USCIS’s email. Hit send, and you’ll get an auto-generated response confirming receipt. I would wait for 2 weeks to hear back from them before calling them again to enquire about the status of the expedite request.
If this gets denied (and it does happen frequently), your next option is to contact your local congressperson. You can find your state representatives and senators using this link. Most, if not all will have a section on their websites where you can request their office for help. For example, Senator Ted Cruz’s website here has a link to fill out a form. I would fill the form out, submit, and then call the office to get connected with a person that can help. Explain your case to them and sell your story. I’ve found that in life, success comes with the ability to sell and this is yet another case where you need to sell yourself. Contact both representatives and senators’ offices for help. At this point, it’s about throwing shit and seeing what sticks. They usually either call or email someone at USCIS with a summary of your case asking for USCIS to consider their constituents’ (you) case and can draw attention to it.
Refer to the link here at the USCIS website for detailed information.
Good luck. Post in the comments if you have any questions and I’ll do my best to help.
Note: This is not immigration advice as I’m not an immigration attorney and have no education, experience or background in this field of law whatsoever. I’m merely sharing an opinion and my experience in the hope that it works for some of you out there. Please consult an immigration attorney and make a decision for yourselves based on the specifics of your case.