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.