If the USCIS is notorious for anything, it’s the long and extraneous processing times. With processing times reaching all-time highs within the fiscal year, applicants were left wondering about when their cases were going to be reviewed, if at all.
On March 29th, 2022, applicants were relieved to find out about the USCIS’s efforts to speed up processing times and expand premium processing options to Immigrant applicants. The USCIS announced that in an effort to reduce backlogs it would expand premium processing options to include a broader range of case types, and would expedite the decision time through a fee ranging up to $2,500 depending on case type.
Applicants’ prayers were answered, but what does this new rule actually entail?
USCIS New Premium Processing Option
In an effort to reduce backlogs and decrease processing wait times for immigration-based cases, the USCIS has announced a new rule that will take effect on May 31, 2022, the Implementation of the Emergency Stopgap USCIS Stabilization Act.
“The purpose of this rulemaking is to amend the DHS premium processing regulations to codify those fees set by the USCIS Stabilization Act under section 286(u)(3)(A) of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1356(u)(3)(A), and to establish new fees and processing timeframes for new immigration benefit requests, consistent with the conditions and eligibility requirements set forth by section 4102(b)(1) of the USCIS Stabilization Act.”
So, what does this mean?
In an attempt to “deliver a timely and fair decision”, according to USCIS Director Ur M. Jaddou, it means that the waiting time for a final case decision could become increasingly shorter. We have seen premium processing options for Forms such as Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, and for certain Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers. This rule would expand the premium processing option to include, Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status, Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorizations: and additional classification under Form I-140.
Premium Processing Options Before vs. Now
|Already Available Premium Processing Time Options||New Premium Processing Time Options|
|Non-Immigrant petition for E-1 (treaty trader), E-2 (investor), or E-3 (Australian Specialty Occupation Worker)||Immigrant petition to classify as EB-1 (Certain multinational executives and managers)|
|Non-Immigrant petition for H-1B (Specialty occupation worker, fashion model, or DOD cooperative research and development project worker)||Immigrant petition to classify as EB-2 (Advanced degree holder or exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business with a waiver)|
|Non-Immigrant petition for H-2B (Non-agricultural worker)||Application to change nonimmigrant status to F-1, F-2, J-1, J-2, M-1, M-2|
|Non-Immigrant petition for H-3 (Trainee or special education exchange visitor)||Application to change status to/ extend stay as a dependent of an E, H, L, O, P, or R|
|Non-Immigrant petition for L-1 (Intracompany transferee)||Application for employment authorization document (EAD) for F-1 (optional practical training), or J-2 (work authorization)|
|Non-Immigrant petition O-1 (Extraordinary ability or achievements in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics), or O-2 (Providing essential support services for a principal)||Application for employment authorization document (EAD) for other employment authorization types|
|Non-Immigrant petition P-1 (Internationally recognized athlete or entertainment group), P-1S (Essential support alien, supports performance of P-1 alien), P-2 (Artist or entertainer in a reciprocal exchange program), P-2S (Essential support alien, supports performance of P-2 alien), P-3 (Artist or entertainer in a culturally unique program), P-3S (Essential support alien, supports performance of P-3 alien)|
|Non-Immigrant petition for Q-1 (International cultural exchange alien)|
|Non-Immigrant petition for R-1 (Religious occupation worker)|
|Non-Immigrant petition for TN (NAFTA/USMCA professional from Canada or Mexico)|
|Immigrant petition to classify as EB-1 (Extraordinary Ability or Outstanding professor or researcher)|
|Immigrant petition to classify as EB-2 (Advanced degree holder or exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business without waiver)|
|Immigrant petition to classify as EB-3, (Skilled workers, Professionals, other workers)|
Processing Times and Fees
As of now, there has been an increase in case processing times with forms like F I-130 averaging up to 10.2 months and F I-539 averaging 9.6 months.
This new rule would eliminate the long wait by reducing time frames as follows;
- 15 calendar days for most apps and petitions including I-129s and I-140s
- 30 calendar days for change of status to F-1, F-2, M-1, M-2, J-1, or J-2, and change of status to or extension of stay of E, H, L, O, P, or R dependents
- 30 calendar days for certain I-765 EAD applications
- 45 calendar days for EB-1 petitions for multinational executives and managers, and EB-2 petitions for advanced degree holders or exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business, when requesting a national interest waiver of the job offer and labor certification requirement
With processing fees as indicated:
- $2,500 for most employment-based petitions including H-1B, O (except petitions for R-1 and H-2B, set at $1,500), and many I-140 categories; this is what the current premium processing fee is for those petitions
- $1,750 for change of status to F-1, F-2, M-1, M-2, J-1 or J-2, and change of status to or extension of stay of E, H, L, O, P, or R dependents
- $1,500 for certain I-765 EAD applications
These processing fees are added to the standard application fee and petition filing fees.
Have further questions?
While longer than normal wait times are pretty common for the USCIS, you should still remember to contact a reliable immigration attorney if you believe that your case falls outside of normal processing times. If you believe you need help with your case or have further questions, make sure to contact a representative that is sure to help you with your case.
At the Kameli Law, we have extensive experience dealing with Immigration cases and have had many success stories over the years. If you have further questions or need help with your Immigration case, feel free to contact the Law Offices of Kameli and Associates, at email@example.com or 312-233-1000, for legal assistance.
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