What does It Mean to be Fast Tracked?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A process is said to be “fast tracked” when steps are taken to reduce the amount of time it takes to complete. For example, when a United States citizen expedites a passport application by paying an additional fee, it means that the application is fast tracked, and will move more quickly through the State Department's system to ensure that it gets to the citizen more quickly. The practice of fast tracking in some industries is criticized, because it is feared that fast tracking may lead to insufficient background and safety checks, which could potentially be a source of problems at a later date. Many consumers and companies, however, appreciate fast tracking, especially in the business world.

Applications for a passport can be fast tracked by paying an additional fee.
Applications for a passport can be fast tracked by paying an additional fee.

Fast tracking is usually offered as a convenience to an individual or company which requires a particular service. Usually, an fee must be paid in order for the service to be fast tracked, to compensate the agency providing the service for the extra work. In the case of an application, fast tracking does not necessarily mean that the application will be accepted, only that it will be processed more quickly than is normal. This can be extremely important in the case of fast tracked applications for citizenship, medical benefits, and other time sensitive issues.

New drugs may be "fast tracked" in the wake of an epidemic.
New drugs may be "fast tracked" in the wake of an epidemic.

To successfully fast track something, the providing agency and the applicant must work together. The applicant must make sure that all supporting materials are in order and that all of the parts of the application meet the needs of the agency. For example, a high school student who is trying to get a college application fast tracked must make sure that all relevant letters of support, test scores, transcripts, and essays are in order in a neat package. If the application is not complete, the providing agency cannot guarantee that it will be fast tracked successfully, because officials will have to request missing materials.

Frequently applications for new drugs, construction projects, patents, or businesses are fast tracked. Many governments encourage this practice, because it supports entrepreneurship and development. However, the fast tracking agency must be able to work carefully as well as quickly, to make sure that expensive or lethal mistakes are not made. This is especially important with fast tracked drug applications, because in the rush to bring, for example, a new cancer drug to the market, the regulating agency does not want to inadvertently release a potentially hazardous drug which may need to be recalled.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


My son in law recently went through the process of applying for citizenship. This was a lengthy process that took a lot of time to read and understand.

Some people will even hire attorneys to help with the process to make sure everything is done correctly.

He got everything sent in with only a couple of weeks left on his temporary visa. He did not know it, but the fees had increased and he had not included enough money with his forms.

Everything was returned to him, with a form that would fast track his application process if it was returned with the correct amount of money.

It is a good thing his application was fast tracked from that point on. If it had not been, he would have run out of time on his visa and had to return to his country and start the process all over again in the future.


For the many consumers, especially those who buy products over the internet, fast tracking is appreciated and sometimes downright crucial.

Some retail companies will search their stores all over the country to locate the items you want in your size etc.and ship it to you for free. Nordstroms is known for fast tracking items for its customers.They have done it for me several times.

Companies quite often need fast tracking from their suppliers. If companies are paid an extra fee, suppliers can readily gather what the business needs in short order and will then expedite shipping for an extra fee.

Fees for fast tracking consumer items can be high, but well worth it, if a business is in a pinch.


Teachers in the public school system who are temporarily off-duty because of charges of inappropriate or incompetence should be fast tracked.

As it is now, they are suspended but still receive full pay until their case is settled. This sometimes takes years because of the arbitration system that is inefficient. In the meantime, a huge amount of tax payer's money is wasted on paying these teachers, who are doing nothing, but waiting.

This system to decide if they will be let go or put back in the classroom should be streamlined.

Now, with all the fuss and bother for so long, not many of these teachers are found guilty. They then just leave the profession after getting some easy money.


@SkyWhisperer - I don't disagree that people taking lawful routes should come first. Some of those people wait years, sometimes living in the country but unable to either work or visit their home countries.

I'm not aware of fast-track programs for "regular" illegal immigrants, but there are some special programs. I read an article about special fast-track programs for two groups: one is crime victims who cooperate with the police, and the other is victims of human trafficking (who may not be here voluntarily, or who were brought under false pretenses).

I can get on board with both of those. Especially when gangs are involved (and who thinks illegal immigrants live in good neighborhoods?), police often have trouble getting people to testify, and those who risk it should be rewarded. And human trafficking is an easy one.

I've heard it proposed, too, that illegal immigrants who are willing to enlist in the armed services should be put on the fast track. (A fast track to citizenship is already available for *legal* immigrants who enlist.) I don't know if it was ever passed, but I can support that idea as well. Enlisted soldiers, sailors, Marines, and airmen make very little money (my cousin's family was on food stamps while her husband was in the Army), and this is wartime - people who enlist can expect to spend time in dangerous, unpleasant places.


@miriam98 - That sounds great, and there is nothing wrong with that at all.

The only kind of fast track approaches I am opposed to are ideas to fast track undocumented workers to citizenship. In my opinion, these people should be slow tracked, if anything.

That means that they need to pay fees, take a slot at the end of the line behind people who have taken legal approaches to citizenship, and of course learn English well.

In my opinion a fast track program should never be offered to people who break our laws.


I know someone who recently graduated from college with a business degree. She was a recruited by a major national bottling company and they put her on a fast track management program.

Basically it’s a one year program where she spends time with distributors, sales people and workers in the bottling facility, and learns the process inside and out.

After a year she will be in management, hopefully. This fast track program is something that the company makes available to a select few college recruits. She was chosen among thousands.

Apparently they do it because they have very specific requirements for people in management and the fast track program would be the best way to get someone groomed for their unique roles.

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