Today, January 12, 2023, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it is implementing the final phase of its expansion of premium processing for Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers, under the EB-1 and EB-2 immigrant classifications.
Who does this phase apply to?
This phase applies to new (initial) petitions, and all previously filed Form I-140 petitions under an E13 multinational executive and manager (EB-1C) classification or E21 classification as a member of professions with advanced degrees or exceptional ability seeking a national interest waiver (NIW) (EB-2).
When does premium processing open for new and pending EB-1C and EB-2 petitions?
Under the final phase of premium processing, effective January 30, 2023, USCIS will begin accepting premium processing upgrades for:
- All pending E13 multinational executive and manager petitions (EB-1C) and E21 NIW petitions (EB-2), and
- All initial E13 multinational executive and manager petitions (EB-1C) and E21 NIW petitions (EB-2)
- Petitioners who wish to request a premium processing upgrade must file Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service.
The expansion of premium processing was first known to the public with the release of the final rule entitled, “Implementation of the Emergency Stopgap USCIS Stabilization Act,” published in the Federal Register on March 30, 2022. As part of this final rule, USCIS announced the gradual expansion of premium processing to certain additional form types over a three-year period.
Background of the Planned Expansion of Premium Processing
The first phase of the planned expansion of premium processing was announced during May of 2022 and applied to certain pending EB-1 Multinational Executive and Manager and EB-2 NIW petitions.
Later, in July the agency announced a second phase of premium processing expanding premium processing of these categories to EB-1C petitions received by USCIS on or before July 1, 2021, and EB-2 petitions received by USCIS on or before August 1, 2021.
Finally, during September 2022, USCIS announces a third phase expanding premium processing to EB-1C petitions received by USCIS on or before January 1, 2022, and EB-2 petitions received by USCIS on or before February 1, 2022.
What is the Cost & How long is premium processing taking?
Under the final rule, the premium processing filing fee remains $2,500, but USCIS now has 45 days to take action on pending I-140 petitions upgraded to premium processing for I-140s requesting EB-1 immigrant classification as a multinational executive or manager or EB-2 immigrant classification as a member of professions with advanced degrees or exceptional ability seeking a national interest waiver (NIW).
Additionally, the rule states that premium processing will not begin until the date USCIS receives “all prerequisites for adjudication.” This means that the agency may not begin to count the 45-day processing timeframe until it determines that it has received all necessary documentation appropriate for the case type as required under the law. In practice, this means that petitioners could be waiting more than the 45-day waiting period to see action on their cases.
If a Request for Evidence (RFE) or Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID) is issued, a new 45-day period begins once USCIS receives the petitioner’s response to the RFE or NOID.
When should you upgrade your petition to premium processing?
Those eligible to upgrade their petitions to premium processing should contact their immigration attorney to determine whether it is recommended to do so. Although premium processing will soon become available, it may not be recommended for certain applicants to proceed with the upgrade, for instance if doing so might trigger issuance of a Request for Evidence, or the case may soon be adjudicated.
Is premium processing available for other types of cases?
USCIS has announced that in March of 2023 it will expand premium processing to additional form types including:
- certain F-1 students seeking Optional Practical Training (OPT)and F-1 students seeking STEM OPT extensions who have a pending Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization.
In April of 2023, it will expand premium processing to:
- F-1 students seeking OPT and F-1 students seeking STEM OPT extensions who are filing an initial Form I-765. USCIS will announce specific dates for each group during the month of February
Next, USCIS plans to expand premium processing for Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status in phases.
- In the month of May, USCIS plans to expand premium processing for certain student and exchange visitors with pending Form I-539 applications.
- In the month of June, premium processing will be expanded to certain student and exchange visitors who are filing initial Form I-539 applications.
Further announcements will be made when USCIS is ready to implement these additional phases.
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- USCIS Announces Final Phase of Premium Processing Expansion for EB-1 and EB-2 Form I-140 Petitions and Future Expansion for F-1 Students Seeking OPT and Certain Student and Exchange Visitors
- I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service
- Final Rule Implementation of the Emergency Stopgap USCIS Stabilization Act
- How Do I Request Premium Processing?
- USCIS Announcement DHS Announces Extension of Temporary Protected Status for Venezuela
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