Expansion of Premium Processing Program Under Federal Review

Practice Areas

By: Jacqueline Gonzalez-Valle

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has proposed a new regulation and submitted it for federal review to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The new policy focuses on expanding the premium processing program to more immigration benefit cases. The rule aims to fulfill legislation that was signed into an earlier stopgap budget measure. It is still unclear whether all newly eligible premium processing categories will be rolled out together, or if they will have a staggered release.

The New Regulation

While the official contents of the regulation are still unknown, the proposed rule is expected to mirror the October 2020 policy and feature newly eligible cases for premium processing, and also provide processing times, fees, and implementation timelines for each new category.

OMB has 90 days to consider the policy change. However, that deadline could be extended or reduced as needed. After approval, the official contents of the rule will be published in the Federal Register, and an advanced copy will be released prior to publication.  Until the rule is approved or rejected, there is no change to the premium processing program.

Background

Expanding the premium processing program was previously included in the October 2020 Emergency Stopgap Stabilization Act.

The law caused an increase in the base fee for premium processes from $1,440 to $2,500. Notable changes were expanding the program to include Form I-765 applications for employment authorization and Form I-539 extensions and changes of status of dependents of H-1B, L-1 and other principal nonimmigrants.

The law also limited USCIS’ power to suspend premium processing, allowing the agency to suspend premium processing only if they are unable to finish a significant number of requests within the given time period. USCIS is also required to offer petitioners access to premium case status information, and communication with USCIS Service Centers processing units. In February 2021, the policy was expanded again, covering E-3 petitions.

Currently the premium processing program is restricted to certain Form I-129 nonimmigrant worker petitions and certain Form I-140 immigrant worker petitions, with a 15-day adjudication timeframe.

Proposed Premium Processing Expansion, Timelines, and Fees

  • Form I-140 EB-1, EB-2 and EB-3 petitions (some exceptions apply)
    • 15 calendar days- current
    • $2,500
  • Form I-140 EB-1 Multinational Manager/Form I-140 EB-2 National Interest Waiver/Form I-140 EB-2 Physician 
    • 45 days
    • Not over $2,500
  • Form I-129 Nonimmigrant Worker Petitions 
    • 15 calendar days- current
    • $2,500
  • Form I-539 Change/Extension of Status to F, J or M 
    • 30 days
    • Not over $1,750
  • Form I-539 Change/Extension of Status for E, H, L, O, P and R Dependents 
    • 30 days
    • Not over $1,750
  • Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization 
    • 30 days
    • Not over $1,500

Conclusion

The Chugh LLP, immigration team will continue to monitor USCIS policy changes and provide updates as they become available.

Disclaimer

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