In short, NO, the I-765 Permission to Work is not normally able to be expedited, except in severe and unexpected circumstances. The stand-alone argument that you need to work to pay bills is insufficient. The following is a longer explanation on why such a request cannot normally be expedited.
USCIS Expedite Policy states:
USCIS may consider an expedite request if it meets one or more of the following criteria:
- Severe financial loss to a company or person, provided that the need for urgent action is not the result of the petitioner’s or applicant’s failure to:
- File the benefit request or the expedite request in a reasonable time frame, or
- Respond to any requests for additional evidence in a reasonably timely manner;
- Urgent humanitarian reasons;
- Compelling U.S. government interests (such as urgent cases for the Department of Defense or DHS, or other public safety or national security interests); or
- Clear USCIS error.
USCIS Further Explains “Severe Economic Loss”
When considering severe financial loss to a person: If the expedite request relates to an application for employment authorization or student status, the need to obtain employment authorization or student status, standing alone without any evidence of other compelling factors does not warrant expedited treatment.
All expedite requests claiming severe financial loss, regardless of the immigration benefit sought and regardless of whether the claimed loss is to a company or a person, must be documented to establish the loss and that the requestor is not able to withstand the temporary financial loss that is the natural result of normal processing times.
When you tie these two explanations with the above “File the benefit request or the expedite request in a reasonable time frame,” USCIS can always reject an Expedite Request since the Immigrant could have filed sooner or could have married sooner to possible avoid any financial hardship. Even loss of the Immigrant’s legal employment is insufficient to establish “severe financial loss.” Lastly, the “Reasonable Time Frame” in the above criteria is an easy way to summarily deny a request.
Reasons why an I-765 Expedite Request normally fails and possible consequences
USCIS Policy Expedite Policy does have a category for “severe economic loss;” however, every request should consider how it could damage the I-864 and the I-944. USCIS will likely reject an I-765 Expedite Request for a number of reasons, examples below:
- The Petitioner of the Family-based Immigration Filing should be financially stable enough to work and support the household, according to the I-864.
- The Immigrant‘s inability to legally work or loss of work are not severe outcomes rising to the level of Economic Hardship since the Immigrant is expected to plan for the normal processing time of the I765 and the Petitioner or Co-Sponsor are financial sponsors. A financial sponsor who cannot provide while an I485 is pending, may not be able to provide once a Green Card is approved. Note: this could disqualify Sponsors and their I864.
- The existence of bills and debt in the household is not a ground for a “severe” occurrence since the bills and debt likely already existed prior to a Green Card Filing.
- An argument that an Immigrant‘s ability to work would irreparably damage the finances could cause an issue for the I-944 Self Sufficiency. If irreparably damaged while the Green Card is pending, then the Immigration Bond of $8100 may be required.
I-765 Expedite Request Scenarios
Example 1: An Immigrant is a “key employee” in a company project, such as a researcher or chemist. The Company would lose a million-dollar grant or their stocks would plummet if the project deadline is not met, and the “key employee” would help avoid that outcome. If the Immigrant is legally employed and the employment status (J-1, H-1B, O, etc) is set to expire months after the Family-based I-485 was filed, the employer can provide evidence and a clear statement of the financial loss that may warrant the Expedition of the I-765.
However, a key flaw in this example is that fact that the company could have filed a new visa for the employee, the employer could have taken timely steps to file their own Green Card Filing, the Immigrant could have filed their family-based I-485 sooner avoiding this outcome.
Example 2: An Immigrant has been legally working at a company. The pay was good, the immigrant created a savings account of $20,000. The Immigrant married a US Citizen who was employed at a good job as well. A recession occurred or the employers for both the immigrant and US Citizen Petitioner laid off many people. Now, the couple are unemployed, bills are stacking up, savings is being consumed quickly. The couple feels that the immigrant needs to work immediately and an expedite request of the I-765 would help.
However, a key flaw in this example is that the US Citizen could also work or should be able to work. If the US Citizen could pay the bills or the bills could be reduced to a level where the US Citizen could pay, there is no “severe economic loss” since there would no longer be loss.
Example 3: The Immigrant and US Citizen Spouse were employed. The US Citizen became pregnant (Yay! A Baby!), but the pregnancy was complicated and forced the US Citizen to stay in the hospital for many months. The US Citizen cannot be fired, has health insurance, but does not receive her paycheck. The Immigrant loses their job authorized by a Visa. The couple feels that the immigrant needs to work immediately and an expedite request of the I-765 would help.
Here, the spouses could argue everything was outside of their control. First, the US Citizen would never want a complicated pregnancy. Second, the Immigrant was working legally. Now, no income is coming in, the bills are piling up, and both spouses may be out of work for many months. Bank statements, bill statements, credit reports of both spouses can all be provided with clear statements requesting the I-765 be expedited.
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