This topic is made to pinpoint the exact requirements that allow most USC petitioners filing from abroad to have their I-130 auto-expedited, while some others seem to go through regular processing queues.
Background: on August 15, 2011, the rules for DCF changed and this alternative option disappeared in all countries that don't have a local USCIS field office, in other words in most countries in the world. Since September 2011, VJ members filing an I-130 while residing abroad with their spouses have been, in most cases, adjudicated extremely fast by USCIS, indicating that the case was expedited, although they did not request it. For an example, see my timeline, and note that this "auto-expedited" processing is only valid at the USCIS stage.
The details of this special processing queue are unclear and USCIS operators are not aware of its existence. In addition, a few members in the same situation have had their cases pending for months, indicating they were not placed in the fast queue.
I made a little survey that will help us understand what the conditions are to be placed in the fast queue. Please add questions if you think other relevant information is missing
All US citizen petitioning for your spouse and residing with them abroad, please fill it in!
(My answers in green).
1. Country USC resides in: France
2. Is there a USCIS field office in this country / Is DCF still possible? No
3. When did you file the I-130: November 2011
4. How long had you been living abroad: 2.5 years
5. Do you reside in the country legally? Yes
6. What is the reason for your residence: work permit/student/tourist/other - Scientist
7. Did you list your foreign address on all forms in I-130 package? Yes
8. Did you send I-130 package from abroad? Yes
9. Did you include evidence of your residence abroad in the I-130 package? Yes. They were meant to be evidence of bona fide relationship, but they also proved the USC was residing in France.
10. Did you mention the fact you reside abroad in the cover letter or write a letter describing your current situation and the evolution of your relationship with your spouse (mentioning your residence abroad)? Yes
11. Has your case been "auto-expedited"? How long between NOA1 and NOA2? Yes, 16 days.