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Processing Times Lengthen as Expedite Options Narrow - (10/30/19)

Earlier this year, USCIS quietly changed its policy regarding eligibility to make an expedite request, also known as the “traditional expedite.” A November 2001 memorandum previously identified nonprofit organizations as eligible for expedited processing in certain circumstances, without payment of the Premium Processing Fee. While not a consistently reliable option, this expedited service has been used in some emergency cases in which, through no fault of their own, nonprofit arts petitioners require rapid visa processing. However, the current USCIS webpage, last updated on May 10, 2019, reveals that three prior grounds for an expedite request have been excluded – no longer listed are “extreme emergencies,” “nonprofit entities seeking to further the cultural and social interests of the U.S.,” and “compelling interests of USCIS.” Arts advocates are seeking immediate reinstatement of the traditional expedite option.