A foreign national who seeks to become a lawful permanent resident of the United States may either apply through a U.S. Consulate or the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. If the application is made through a U.S. consulate, the foreign national obtains an Immigrant Visa.
In contrast, an application can be made to the US Department of Homeland Security (more specifically, USCIS) in a process known as Adjustment of Status. One considerable drawback of the Adjustment of Status process is that the foreign national cannot work or leave the United States for a period of approximately 5 months after filing the application with USCIS. Unfortunately, the five-month waiting period increased over the past 3 years from 3 months to 4 months and ultimately to 5 months.
Understandably, applicants for adjustment of status are frequently interested in requesting that USCIS expedite the adjudication of their applications for work authorization and travel authorization. In previous years, submitting such a request was relatively simple. The foreign national would telephone USCIS and attests to having received a job offer and represent that severe financial loss would befall him or her unless USCIS were to adjudicate the application for work and travel authorization immediately. It was not uncommon for a foreign national to receive permission to work and travel within a week of submitting an expedite request to USCIS.
Unfortunately, perhaps because USCIS was being bombarded with expedite requests, it has become considerably more difficult for a foreign national to receive a favorable decision on his or her expedite request within a reasonable time after submitting it to USCIS. Nowadays, such requests involve repeated telephone calls to USCIS, the presentation of considerably more evidence than in the past, and even filing repeated expedite requests with USCIS.
If you intend to submit a request to expedite work authorization to USCIS, it is important that you discuss the situation in detail with your attorney in order to evaluate the chance of success of such a request and whether it is worth pursuing. Your attorney will be able to review and improve your expedite request, assistance which could easily mean the difference between approval and denial.