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This article was prepared with the assistance of ABIL, the Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers, of which Loan Huynh is an active member.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on March 21, 2024, that it has updated guidance in its USCIS Policy Manual, effective immediately, to clarify how the agency considers expedite requests related to government interests and emergencies or urgent humanitarian situations, including travel-related requests. The update also clarifies how to make an expedite request and explains how USCIS processes expedite requests.

USCIS said it “may expedite cases identified as urgent by federal, state, tribal, territorial or local governments of the United States because they involve public interest, public safety, national interest or national security interests.” When an expedite request is made by a federal government agency or department based on government interests, USCIS generally defers to that agency or department’s assessment.

The update also clarifies that USCIS will consider expediting Form I-131, Application for Travel Document, to benefit requestors in the United States “when they have a pressing or critical need to leave the United States, whether the need to travel relates to an unplanned or planned event, such as a professional, academic or personal commitment.”

When the need is related to a planned event, USCIS said it considers whether the applicant timely filed Form I-131, and whether processing times would prevent USCIS from issuing the travel document by the planned date of departure.

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