Premium Processing Is Phasing Back In

Constangy, Brooks, Smith & Prophete, LLP

Yesterday the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services began phasing back in premium processing for eligible Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker and Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers. Premium processing allows eligible applicants to pay an additional $1,440 filing fee to obtain an adjudication in 15 calendar days. Premium processing was suspended on March 20 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The announcement of the phase-in came after the agency declared that it expects to run out of funding this summer. In response, the USCIS plans to raise application fees and also requested a one-time emergency payment of $1.2 billion from Congress. The resumption of premium processing does not include a fee increase at this time.

Effective June 1

The USCIS will accept premium processing for all eligible Form I-140 petitions, whether new filings or upgrades to pending petitions.

The ability to get quick approval of an I-140 petition is important to H-1B beneficiaries who want to extend their H-1B eligibility. An approved I-140 petition is required for an H-1B extension of six years.

Effective June 8

Starting next Monday, the USCIS will accept premium processing requests for the following:

  • “H-1B petitions filed before June 8 that are pending adjudication and are cap-exempt (for example, petitions filed by petitioners that are cap-exempt and petitions filed for beneficiaries previously counted toward the numerical allocations).
  • “All other Form I-129 petitions (non H-1B petitions) for nonimmigrant classifications eligible for premium processing filed before June 8 that are pending adjudication.”

Effective June 15

In two weeks, the USCIS will resume premium processing for the following:

  • “H-1B petitions requesting premium processing by filing an I-907 concurrently with their I-129 (or request for a petition filed on or after June 8) and are exempt from the cap because
    • “The employer is cap-exempt or because the beneficiary will be employed at a qualifying cap-exempt institution, entity or organization (such as an institution of higher education, a nonprofit research organization or a governmental research organization); or
    • “The beneficiary is cap-exempt based on a Conrad/IGA waiver under INA section 214(l).”

Effective June 22

The USCIS will resume premium processing for all other Form I-129 petitions, including the following:

  • “All H-1B cap-subject petitions (including those for fiscal year 2021), including change of status from F-1 nonimmigrant status, for both premium processing upgrades and concurrently filed I-907s.
  • “All other Form I-129 petitions for nonimmigrant classifications eligible for premium processing and requesting premium processing by filing an I-907 concurrently with their I-129.

The USCIS cautions, “All dates are subject to change as USCIS continues to take on more premium processing requests and USCIS will announce any changes to these dates accordingly.”

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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