Expedited Processing Considerations: F-1 Student Visas & Work Permits During the COVID-19 Pandemic
International students throughout the US are deeply concerned about the coronavirus outbreak and the effects on their nonimmigrant status. In the event you have been affected financially by the COVID-19 crisis you may be able to request that United States Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) expedite the adjudication of an already pending application or petition, such as an emergency work permit or Employment Authorization Document (EAD).
Individuals on nonimmigrant visas (including students on OPT or STEM OPT) can find themselves “out of status” if their employer shutdowns and they are no longer working or being paid. If a foreign national is out of status, the individual must change to another status or leave the country. For personal reasons, or due to the COVID-19 outbreak, it may not be feasible or safe for individuals to return to their home countries. For that reason, requesting an emergency EAD could be a good option.
It is important to remember that the cause of your request must be corresponding to the coronavirus crisis. For example: increased medical bills, losing an on-campus job, or an increase to expenses in the US. USCIS provides the following as "good" expedite request grounds:
Severe financial loss to a company (when the company would be at risk of failing) or person, provided that the need for urgent action is not the result of the petitioner’s or applicant’s failure: (1) to file the benefit request or the request to expedite in a reasonable time frame; or (2) to 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.
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. USCIS considers all expedite requests on a case-by-case basis and generally requires documentation to support such requests.
You can generally request expedited processing by contacting USCIS Contact Center at 1-800-375-5283 (TTY for the deaf, hard of hearing, or those having a speech disability: 1-800-767-1833) after you have obtained a receipt notice. The USCIS Contact Center will not be able to refer the expedited request to the appropriate office without a receipt number. When you call to request expedited processing, the USCIS Contact Center creates and forwards a service request to the office with jurisdiction over your application or petition.
Our office can help you and your family with instructions and information regarding immigration during this difficult time. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any immigration related questions or concerns, as we are happy to provide free initial consultations.
The Law Office of Nicholas J. Mireles is an experienced Los Angeles based U.S. Immigration law firm has been practicing immigration law since 2013. Our background makes us uniquely well suited to help you with any type of issue relating to your immigration status.
Law Office of Nicholas J. Mireles, APC
411 West 7th St. Ste 310
Los Angeles, CA 90014