USCIS Resumes Premium Processing For I-129 And I-140 Petitions In A Phased-In Approach

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Premium processing, the vehicle utilized by many U.S. petitioners filing for nonimmigrant and immigrant-based benefits, is being resumed by U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) with a phased-in approach commencing June 1, 2020. USCIS notified the public on May 29, 2020, that the suspension of premium processing originally announced on March 20, 2020, would be lifted and a resumption of the popular 15-calendar day ”fast track” turnaround would be implemented as outlined below.

June 1, 2020: Premium Processing Requests Will be Accepted for Eligible I-140 Immigrant Worker Petitions

While USCIS did not announce which specific I-140 petitions would be eligible for premium processing, it is most likely that premium processing requests will be accepted for the same types of I-140 petitions eligible prior to March 20, 2020. If that instruction changes, this Legal Alert will be supplemented by a follow-up advisory.

June 8, 2020: USCIS Will Accept Premium Processing Requests for Certain Applicable Nonimmigrant Petitions

  • H-1B petitions filed before June 8, 2020, that are pending adjudication and are cap-exempt (for instance, petitions filed by petitioners that are cap-exempt and petitions filed for beneficiaries previously counted toward the numerical allocations);
  • All other Forms I-129 petitions (non-H1-B petitions) for nonimmigrant classifications eligible for premium processing filed before June 8 that are pending adjudication.

June 15, 2020: USCIS Will Accept Premium Processing for Certain H-1B Petitions

  • H-1B petitions requesting premium processing by filing Form I-907 concurrently filed with their I-129 (or request for a petition filed on or after June 8, 2020) and are exempt from the H-1B cap as:
    • 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 section 214(l).

June 22, 2020: USCIS Intends to Resume Premium Processing for all Other Forms I-129 of Petitions

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

The resumption of premium processing is certainly a relief for many companies and foreign nationals seeking clarity and assurance regarding USCIS processing times, which have been unpredictable for years. Through payment of the additional $1440.00 premium processing fee, USCIS will adjudicate a petition request within 15 calendar days - resulting in an approval notice, or alternately through issuance of a request for further information. Knowing results in a timely manner is most helpful for businesses planning for the U.S. employer and for the foreign national, who might be granted a period of authorized employment in the United States or more beneficially, a route to permanent residence through the grant of an I-140 immigrant visa petition.

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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