How to File a US Visa Expedite Request

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Expedite your visa request.
Expedite your visa request. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Getting a visa to the United States can take a long time, depending on what type of visa it is. Family-based and marriage-based visas, in particular, can take many months or even years. If your case is taking too long for you and you believe you meet certain criteria, you can file an expedite request.

You can make an expedite request at any time during the visa process. Your request must convince the authorities that your case meets expedite criteria. Bear in mind that not all requests are granted. However if you have a valid reason for wanting to speed things up, it's worth trying.

Review the U.S. Citizenship and Immigrations Services criteria for an expedited request. According to the USCIS, cases may be expedited if they involve a serious financial loss, an extreme emergency, a humanitarian situation, the request comes from a nonprofit organization advancing the cultural or social interests of the United States, it's a matter of national interest or security (the request must be made by a U.S. government official), or a USCIS error or compelling USCIS interest.

Check if your personal situation meets the requirements. For a family-based or marriage-based visa like a K1 visa or I-130 petition, the grounds for an expedite request may be: a medical emergency, an impending military deployment of the U.S. petitioner, terminal illness or political instability in the beneficiary's country.

Check if you qualify for premium processing. If you use the premium processing service, you cannot file an expedite request. If you're seeking an employment-based visa rather than family or marriage-based, you may qualify for Premium Processing Service. USCIS will process a case in just 15 days or else give a refund. The fee is $1,000.

Submit your expedite request to the USCIS. If you are about to file your petition or application, put together your package. Write a cover letter with the title "Expedite Request." Explain your situation and why you think you should be granted a visa expedite. Attach supporting documents such as a medical certificate or deployment order. If you have already filed your petition or application, you can call the National Customer Service Center at 800-375-5283 for assistance. You can also make an appointment via the online InfoPass to visit your local USCIS office or you can write or fax your local USCIS office or USCIS service center.

Submit your expedite request to the National Visa Center. If you filed for a visa class that gets forwarded to the National Visa Center after approval by the USCIS, you can request an expedite from the NVC as well. Call the facility at 603-334-0700 or send e-mail to NVCINQUIRY@state.gov.

Contact the U.S. embassy or consulate. If you applied for a family-based or marriage-based visa, the beneficiary will have to be interviewed at a US consulate. In case of an emergency, you can request the embassy to give you or the beneficiary an early interview date.

Call your local congressperson's office. Get your representative's office number. Call and explain your case to the staff member who speaks to you. Your congressperson probably won't deal with the case directly, but just getting someone from his/her office to contact the NVC or USCIS can get positive results.

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