USCIS to Expand Premium Processing Offerings
The Department of Homeland Security has published a final rule to expand premium processing service to expand premium processing service for certain immigration benefit requests. The rule takes effect May 31, 2022.
What is Premium Processing?
Premium processing service currently allows employers to request expedited processing for certain immigration petitions if the employer pays a premium fee in addition to the base petition filing fee. Premium processing is currently available for employers requesting a limited number of designated classifications when filing Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, and Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker.
What does the New Rule Do?
Pursuant to the rule, USCIS intends to make premium processing available for additional benefits as part of a 10-year phased-in implementation strategy.
According to the rule’s preamble, USCIS expects to implement premium processing for the following categories in FY 2022 (i.e., before September 30, 2022):
|Expected Premium Processing Fee
to preference classifications for Multinational Executives and Managers (EB-1)
and National Interest Waivers (EB-2).
Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant
F-1, F-2, J-1, J-2,
M-1, and M-2 classification. Expansion to additional categories of E-1, E-2, E-3, L-2, H-4, O-3, P-4, R-2 expected by FY 2025.
Application for Employment Authorization Document (EAD)
|Requests for EADs for F-1, Optional Practical Training, and Exchange Visitors. Expansion to additional categories expected by FY 2025.
USCIS will announce on its website which applications and petitions are eligible for premium processing, and the conditions that will apply. Fees may be adjusted on a biennial basis without notice and comment rulemaking.
Publication of this rule comes at a time when USCIS is under growing criticism for its untenable adjudication delays. The agency has millions of applications pending in processing backlogs, many stemming from Trump-era policies designed to stymie immigration.
Before USCIS can further expand premium processing, it must raise sufficient funds to ensure that it has the staffing and IT resources to avoid increasing non-premium processing related processing times. Hence the phase-in approach to premium processing expansion. At the same time, expanding premium processing, even on an incremental basis, will serve as an additional revenue stream for the agency, helping it to add resources and implement efficiencies to eliminate backlogs.
USCIS also announced other initiatives aimed at providing relief, including setting revised processing timelines (essentially aspirational targets) for certain benefits and expanding automatic extensions for EADs when a renewal application is filed.
Gibney will continue to monitor these developments and provide updates as they become available. If you have questions, please contact your designated Gibney representative or email email@example.com.