One of the most difficult aspects of the marriage green card process is waiting for your application to be approved. With COVID-19-related delays and an ever-increasing number of pending cases, many couples are facing significantly longer wait times in recent years.
Given the current backlog, the average wait time for a marriage-based green card is now about 17 months. Processing times can vary widely, depending on where you currently live and whether the sponsor is a U.S. citizen or green card holder.
If you think you’ve been waiting too long for an update on your application, or you urgently need your marriage green card, it may be possible to expedite the process in certain circumstances. In this guide, we’ll cover how to expedite a marriage green card, what situations may warrant quicker processing, and other steps to take:
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In certain situations, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) allows applicants to request an expedited adjudication (or review) of an application or petition. Before filing your own expedite request, there are a few important things to note:
- USCIS reviews all expedite requests on a case-by-case basis
- USCIS may request additional documentation to support the basis for your expedite request
- USCIS has the sole discretion to approve or deny your expedite request
Expedite requests are at the full discretion of USCIS, and they are typically only approved for specific circumstances. Reasons why USCIS might grant an expedite request include:
- Severe financial loss to a person or urgent employment needs
- Emergencies and urgent humanitarian reasons (such as a death in the family, critical need for medical treatment, or extreme or unsafe living conditions)
- Clear USCIS error during the application review process (such as USCIS misplacing your filed application)
If you believe you have compelling circumstances that warrant expedited processing for your marriage green card, you can make a request to USCIS. Each case is evaluated on an individual basis, and USCIS has specific criteria for expediting applications.
To request expedited processing for your marriage green card, you typically need to submit a written request to USCIS along with supporting documentation that demonstrates the urgency or compelling circumstances. Remember that expediting a green card application is not guaranteed, and it’s important to follow the proper procedures and provide appropriate evidence to support your request.
Although the process may vary depending on your specific situation, to request expedited processing for a marriage-based green card application, you can follow these general steps:
- Review USCIS Guidelines: Be sure to review USCIS’ guidelines on expedited processing. Familiarize yourself with the criteria and circumstances they consider for expedited requests.
- Identify Compelling Circumstances: Determine if your situation meets the criteria for expedited processing. USCIS typically considers factors such as severe medical conditions, humanitarian reasons, or urgent employment needs. You should have supporting evidence to demonstrate the urgency or compelling circumstances.
- Prepare a Request: Follow USCIS guidelines for preparing a request for expedited processing. You can generally start a request for expedited processing by calling the USCIS Contact Center. From there, applicants typically need to prepare a formal letter explaining the reasons for the expedited request and provide supporting evidence. Include any relevant documentation, such as medical records, employment offers, or other pertinent information.
- Submit the Request: Send your expedited processing request, along with supporting documents, to USCIS. Follow the specified submission method as outlined by USCIS. Be sure to retain copies of all documents for your records.
- Follow Up: After submitting your request, it’s important to follow up with USCIS to confirm receipt and inquire about the status of your request. You may need to provide additional documentation or answer any further inquiries they may have.
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As noted above, expedite requests are never a guarantee. If you need to speed up your marriage green card process, there are some additional steps to take besides requesting expedited processing:
File a Case Status Update Request
If you have a pending marriage green card case that is outside the normal USCIS processing times, you can send USCIS an inquiry directly to receive a status update on your case. Be sure to check the average processing times and ensure your case is outside the normal range before reaching out to USCIS.
To receive an update on a case that exceeds the standard processing times, complete the electronic form available on the USCIS website. This submission will notify USCIS, prompting them to investigate the delay and provide an explanation for the prolonged processing. You can learn more detailed information about this process in Boundless’ processing times guide.
Contact your U.S. Representative
If you’ve already contacted USCIS about your case but are still awaiting a response, the next course of action is to contact your congressional representative.
Congressional representatives can communicate with federal agencies on behalf of their constituents. Although they cannot resolve all immigration issues or alter any decisions, they may be able to shed light on specific cases, potentially bringing attention to processing delays or bureaucratic hurdles. To learn more about how to reach out to your U.S. representative about your marriage green card application, check out Boundless’ guide.