Yesterday the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services began phasing back in premium processing for eligible Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker and Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers. Premium processing allows eligible applicants to pay an additional $1,440 filing fee to obtain an adjudication in 15 calendar days. Premium processing was suspended on March 20 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The announcement of the phase-in came after the agency declared that it expects to run out of funding this summer. In response, the USCIS plans to raise application fees and also requested a one-time emergency payment of $1.2 billion from Congress. The resumption of premium processing does not include a fee increase at this time.
Effective June 1
The USCIS will accept premium processing for all eligible Form I-140 petitions, whether new filings or upgrades to pending petitions.
The ability to get quick approval of an I-140 petition is important to H-1B beneficiaries who want to extend their H-1B eligibility. An approved I-140 petition is required for an H-1B extension of six years.
Effective June 8
Starting next Monday, the USCIS will accept premium processing requests for the following:
- “H-1B petitions filed before June 8 that are pending adjudication and are cap-exempt (for example, petitions filed by petitioners that are cap-exempt and petitions filed for beneficiaries previously counted toward the numerical allocations).
- “All other Form I-129 petitions (non H-1B petitions) for nonimmigrant classifications eligible for premium processing filed before June 8 that are pending adjudication.”
Effective June 15
In two weeks, the USCIS will resume premium processing for the following:
- “H-1B petitions requesting premium processing by filing an I-907 concurrently with their I-129 (or request for a petition filed on or after June 8) and are exempt from the cap because
- “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 INA section 214(l).”
Effective June 22
The USCIS will resume premium processing for all other Form I-129 petitions, including the following:
- “All H-1B cap-subject petitions (including those for fiscal year 2021), including change of status from F-1 nonimmigrant status, for both premium processing upgrades and concurrently filed I-907s.
- “All other Form I-129 petitions for nonimmigrant classifications eligible for premium processing and requesting premium processing by filing an I-907 concurrently with their I-129.”
The USCIS cautions, “All dates are subject to change as USCIS continues to take on more premium processing requests and USCIS will announce any changes to these dates accordingly.”