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USCIS expands premium processing services on certain backlogged immigration cases

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On 29th March 2022, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) declared an extension of the premium processing services & rules that allow employers to pay an extra filing fee to expedite the processing of certain immigration petitions. The new rule intends to reduce agency-wide backlogs and give timely access to employment authorization documents.

The Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) issued the final regulation on 30th March 2022. Historically, premium processing was only available for certain nonimmigrant petitions (Form I-129) and limited employment-based immigrant visa petitions (Form I-140) by submitting Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service.

The new extended regulation will now be available for extra Form I-140 classifications, including the employment-based categories for EB-1 multinational executives and managers and EB-2 professionals with advanced degrees or exceptional ability seeking a national interest waiver (NIW). Additionally, premium processing will become available for Form I-539 candidates looking for a change of status to F-1/F-2, J-1/J-2, or M-1/M-2 nonimmigrant classification, or a change of status to or expansion of stay in E-1, E-2, E-3, H-4, L-2, O-3, P-4 or R-2 nonimmigrant classification.

Premium processing will also become available for Form I-765 candidates. However, the actual implementation will be phased in over several years. Once the premium processing expansion is implemented, the application processing timeframes and filing fees will be as follows:

Premium Processing Services Expansion Changes

Eligibility ClassificationProcessing TimeframeFiling Fee/Implementation
Form I-129 Petitions for Nonimmigrant Workers; Form I-140 Immigrant Petitions for Alien Workers(most EB-1, EB-2, and EB-3 categories)15 calendar days$2,500.00(currently available)
Form I-140 Immigrant Petitions for Alien Workers(EB-1 multinational manager and EB-2 NIW categories)45 calendar days$2,500.00(anticipated in FY 2022)
Form I-539 Application to Change Nonimmigrant Status(F-1/F-2, J-1/J-2, or M-1/M-2)30 calendar days$1,750.00(anticipated in FY 2022)
Form I-539 Application to Change or Extend Nonimmigrant Status(E-1, E-2, E-3, H-4, L-2, O-3, P-4, or R-2)30 calendar days$1,750.00(anticipated in FY 2025)
Form I-765 Applications for Employment Authorization(F-1/J-1; and other non-specified groups of applicants)30 calendar days$1,500(anticipated FY 2022, additional groups FY 2025)

[Indians bagged 3.01 lakh H-1B visas during fiscal 2021 – 74% of the total]

Until the USCIS declares the specific details surrounding the extended premium processing classifications, only the currently available Form I-129 and Form I-140 petitions remain eligible. The USCIS is expected to make declarations on the agency’s site as each new classification becomes eligible, including related processing conditions that might be placed on particular case types.

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