If you or a loved is currently going through the U.S. immigration process, you no doubt want to get your case resolved as soon as possible. Unfortunately, in our current environment, immigration applications can take a long time to get through the process. Indeed, there is currently a massive backlog in the system, and sadly, it is only growing larger. According to recent data collected and provided by the Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), the pending case backlog reached an all-time record high in April of 2017: 585,930. Not only has the backlog of cases doubled in the last five years, but it has led to staggering wait times for many petitioners.
Our immigration system needs to improve to better serve the needs of applicants. More judges need to be sworn in by Congress and more resources need to be deployed to improve outcomes and shorten processing times. Of course, improving the system is far outside of the control of any applicant. In the meantime, immigration petitioners need to do everything in their power to help their own case move through the process in the most efficient manner possible. Here, our experienced Los Angeles immigration lawyers offer some guidance for speeding up your immigration case.
Apply for Premium Processing
For some types of immigration applications, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) offers faster processing. Specifically, many employment-based immigration petitions and applications qualify for what is known as “premium processing”. The fee associated with this service is $1,225, and it must be paid on top of all of the other standard application fees. USCIS keeps an updated list detailing the types of employment-based immigration applications and petitions that currently qualify for this service. However, it is subject to change. For example, on April 3rd, 2017, the USCIS announced a (six-month) temporary suspension of the premium processing program for H-1B visas.
Get Professional Help With Your Immigration Paperwork
The paperwork that you need to submit along with your immigration application is notoriously complex. Even a very simple mistake made within this paperwork, or anywhere else in your immigration application package, could lead to a lengthy delay, or even to the outright denial of your application. Getting your case delayed because U.S. immigration officials take a long time to handle these cases is frustrating enough; you do not want your case to be delayed because you made an avoidable mistake.
Far too often, applicants try to put together their immigration petition on their own, filling out all of the paperwork and gathering all of the necessary documents and records. This is extremely risky; it is always better to work with an experienced immigration lawyer. There are so many potential pitfalls that you could run into when filling out an application on your own. From misreading complex instructions to using an outdated application form or forgetting to include an important document, any mistake could lead to a long delay. Your lawyer will be able to help you put together an application package in the most effective manner, ensuring that it conforms to all legal requirements.
What to Do In Emergency Situations
In emergency situations, immigration applicants have additional options available that can be used to expedite their case. To be clear, expedited processing is only available in cases of genuine emergency. An applicant will not qualify for this option simply because they are frustrated with how long the process is taking. While that is certainly an understandable frustration, an emergency circumstance is required to get your application moved to the front of the line. For reference, some common examples of situations that can qualify for emergency expedited processing include:
- The immediate need to receive permission to leave the United States in order to visit a relative that is sick or dying in another country;
- Other type of medical emergencies where expedited immigration processing could help improve the situations;
- Separation from a family member (often a child) who is overseas in a dangerous situation;
- Severe financial distress being caused to a business or individual while waiting for an application to be processed; and
- The impending military deployment of you or your spouse, which would make it impossible to attend an immigration meeting in the future.
Ultimately, USCIS determines whether or not an emergency justifies pushing an application to the front of the line on a case-by-case basis. In these cases, the burden is always placed on the immigration petitioner to show that there is good cause to take such an action.
How to Request Expedited Processing
While the United States government is certainly not going to change the laws to accommodate your interests or desires, U.S. immigration officials may comply with your request to speed up the process if you can present them with a good reason to do so. When requesting expedited processing on the grounds of an emergency, you will need to send a letter to the appropriate immigration office that:
- Includes identification information for your specific application;
- Clearly explains why expedited processing is justified; and
- Presents evidence that supports your requests.
For example, if you are requesting expedited processing on medical grounds, some form of medical documentation should be included in your written request. In some cases, this documentation could be as simple as a doctor’s note. It is imperative that your request for expedited processing is made in a compelling manner. If you need expedited processing, you should always work with an experienced immigration Los Angeles immigration lawyer who can help you send in a written request that makes the strongest possible case on your behalf.
We Provide Help for Immigrants in L.A.
If you need help expediting your immigration case, please do not hesitate to contact the experienced legal team at the Law Office of Joshua L. Goldstein, PC, today. We will review your circumstances and determine exactly what needs to be done to best protect your legal rights and to speed up your case. Our firm is based in Los Angeles and we serve clients throughout Southern California, including in Inglewood, Torrance, Monterey Park and Pasadena.