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5 Ways to Speed Up Your Visa Processing

Helpful tips to speed up your application and get your visa sooner

Immigration Line

Regardless of which U.S. visa you’re applying for, the process can be a daunting and time-consuming experience. In recent years, processing times have increased for many visa categories due to COVID-19-related delays and a growing backlog of pending cases. Despite longer wait times, there are several strategies you can employ to speed up your visa processing. In this guide, we’ll explore five effective ways to streamline your visa application and increase your chances of receiving a quicker decision.

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Apply Early!

This first tip may seem self-explanatory, but the sooner you submit your application, the sooner you’ll receive a decision on your visa or green card! As the U.S. immigration system bounces back from pandemic-induced delays over the last several years, more applicants are rushing to submit their visa and green card applications. The COVID-19 pandemic also triggered a significant backlog of pending cases, so the longer applicants wait to file, the more likely they are to experience longer processing times.

Filing your application with the U.S. government sooner will place your application in line ahead of other applicants, so it’s important to complete your forms and gather your supporting documents as soon as possible. Boundless can help you build a tailored visa plan for every step of the process, from forms to your immigration interview. Get started today!

Submit a Strong Application the First Time Around

Another strategy to ensure your visa is processed as quickly as possible is to file a complete, thorough, and strong application the first time around. For most visa applications, the process generally requires extensive research and a high attention to detail when completing the government forms and gathering supporting documents. Any minor mistakes on the application can potentially set you back weeks, if not months, and end up costing you more than anticipated in government fees.

Clerical mistakes such as submitting incorrect filing fees or filing your application at the wrong location can result in a rejection from USCIS, which means you will need to start over at the beginning of the process and re-file. Once you’ve submitted your application, missing documents or a lack of strong evidence can also slow down your visa processing, since you are likely to receive a Request for Evidence (RFE) from USCIS. RFE’s are a formal request for more evidence before USCIS is able to make a decision on your case and can add several months to your processing time. You can learn more about RFEs and how to avoid them in Boundless’ guide. Submitting a strong application from the start, with forms filled out correctly and sufficient supporting documents and evidence can help ensure that your application is reviewed in a quicker manner, without any roadblocks.

Boundless can help you avoid common pitfalls in the immigration process with unlimited support from our team of immigration experts. Learn more.

Take Advantage of Premium Processing (When Available)

Another way to potentially speed up your visa process is to utilize “premium processing,” if it’s available for the visa type you’re applying for. Premium processing is a service offered by USCIS that allows individuals or employers to expedite the processing of certain immigration petitions. It is available for select employment-based visas and some nonimmigrant visa categories.

When a petition is filed under premium processing, USCIS guarantees a response within a specific timeframe, typically 15 calendar days. If USCIS fails to respond within the designated timeframe, they will refund the premium processing fee and continue to process the case in an expedited manner.

To utilize premium processing, a petitioner must submit a specific form, along with the required fee, to request this service. The fee for premium processing is separate from the standard filing fee for each application and is typically higher cost than most filing fees. Despite a higher cost, it provides the benefit of faster processing, which can be particularly useful for individuals or employers who require a quicker resolution for their immigration matters.

It’s important to note that not all immigration petitions are eligible for premium processing. USCIS determines which visa categories are eligible and can choose to temporarily suspend or limit the availability of premium processing for certain visa types as needed.

For more information on how to request premium processing and whether it is available for your application type, see USCIS’ premium processing guide.

File an Expedite Request

In certain extreme circumstances, an applicant may be able to speed up their visa processing by filing an “expedite request” with USCIS. An expedite request is a formal request made to USCIS to accelerate the processing of an immigration application or petition. It’s typically granted when there are urgent circumstances or compelling reasons that justify expediting a visa or green card applicant’s case, such as an emergency medical situation or the death of a family member.

Expedite requests are evaluated on a case-by-case basis and it is always at the discretion of USCIS to either approve or deny them. You can learn more about the criteria for expedite requests and how to request expedited processing in Boundless’ guide.

Contact Your U.S. Representative

The last method for speeding up your visa processing is to reach out to your U.S. congressional representative directly for help.

Congressional representatives can engage with federal agencies on behalf of the individuals they represent and submit congressional inquiries into specific immigration cases. While they may not have the authority to directly resolve all immigration matters or change decisions, they can play a role in drawing attention to particular cases, which might help highlight issues such as processing delays. If you are interested in contacting your U.S. representative regarding your green card or visa application, you can refer to Boundless’ guide for more information.