The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has expanded premium processing to certain I-140 petitions, and premium processing of certain I-765 and I-539 applications is expected to be in place this spring.
As of January 30, premium processing has become available for I-140 Immigrants Petitions as follows:
- For individuals in the multinational executive and manager classification.
- For members of the professions with advanced degrees or exceptional ability seeking National Interest Waivers.
In the not-too-distant future, premium processing will become available for I-765 Applications for Employment Authorization and I-539 Applications to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status.
The premium processing time is generally 15 calendar days. However, the premium time for I-the 140 petitions covered as of January 30 is 45 calendar days. The additional time presumably reflects the added complexity of I-140 petitions in these categories.
The fee for premium processing in most cases is currently $2,500 per petition (I-140 immigrant and Form I-129 non-immigrant petitions).
The announcement by the USCIS should be welcome to all individuals seeking to work in the United States under these petitions and applications, as well as to their employers. Current processing time for I-140 petitions in the multinational executive and manager classification is a little more than a year. For a member of the professions with an advanced degree or exceptional ability seeking a National Interest Waiver, the processing time is even longer – roughly 16 to 19 months. These extremely long delays leave the individuals and their employers “in limbo” about whether the individual will be permitted to move forward in the final green card process.
The processing times for certain I-765 and I-539 applications are about as bad. For example, individuals seeking to transition to F-1 students are faced with delays from roughly a year to more than a year and a half. As a result, these individuals often have to postpone starting school. H-4 spouses of H-1B workers may apply for employment authorization in certain circumstances, such as when an I-140 Petition has been approved on the H-1B’s behalf; however, it is currently taking about six months for the I-765 application to be approved.
Premium processing available now
The I-140 petition is filed by employers on behalf of employees who are seeking permanent resident status. I-140 petitions filed on or after January 30 may now take advantage of premium processing. In addition, I-140 petitions that were already pending on January 30 may now be converted to premium processing. This is especially good news because prior expansions of premium processing for I-140 petitions applied only to petitions that were filed as of specified dates.
With the latest expansion, premium processing is now available for most I-140 and most I-129 (non-immigrant) petitions.
Future expansion for I-765 and I-539 applications
It won’t be long before the USCIS expands premium processing for certain I-765 and I-539 applications. According to the USCIS, the anticipated timetable is as follows:
March 2023: Premium processing will be expanded to certain F-1 students seeking Optional Practical Training (“OPT”) and F-1 students seeking STEM OPT extensions who have a pending Form I-765.
April 2023: Premium processing will be expanded to applicants in these same categories who are filing their initial Form I-765.
The USCIS will provide precise dates for these expansions sometime later this month.
Premium processing will be available for I-539 Applications for certain student and exchange visitors as follows:
May 2023: Available for individuals with pending I-539 applications.
June 2023: Available for individuals who are filing initial I-539 applications.
The USCIS will announce the precise dates in the future.