Eighteen months after passage of the Emergency Stopgap USCIS Stabilization Act, on Sept. 30, 2020, which allowed Premium Processing for more case types, USCIS has issued regulations to implement those additions, in phases. The first phase may begin in 60 days (or longer – see below), with more case types being added to Premium processing over the next three fiscal years. USCIS will monitor the rollout to comply with a Congressional mandate that they must not speed up processing of some case types at the expense of others. Accordingly, 8 CFR §106.4 (replacing old 8 CFR 103.7(b)(1)(i)(SS) and (e)) has been deleted in its entirety and is replaced with a revised version in today’s Final Rule. The Act of 2020 did not authorize Premium processing for Form I-131 applications for Advance Parole and Re-Entry Permit travel documents, nor for Form I-485 applications to adjust status, so those case-types will remain ineligible for the foreseeable future.
Today’s Final Rule amends regulations and implements several key expansions of the Premium Processing program. For all case types covered, they are sticking with calendar days, and will not switch to counting in business days. The first phase of expansion includes:
- Form I-140 immigrant visa petitions for EB-1C Multinational Managers or Executives, and for EB-2 advanced degree professionals or aliens of exceptional ability seeking a National Interest Waiver. The Premium processing fee for these I-140 case types is $2,500, and the processing timeframe is 45 calendar days.
- Form I-539 Applications for Change of Status to F-1, F-2, J-1, J-2, M-1 & M-2 status (students, exchange visitors & trainees); and I-539 Applications for Change of Status to, or Extension of Status in, E-1, E-2, E-3, H-4, L-2, O-3, P-4 & R-2 status (i.e. spouses and children). The Premium processing fee for these I-539 case types is $1,750, and the processing timeframe is 30 calendar days.
- Form I-765 Applications for Employment Authorization for F-1 student Optional Practical Training and J-2 Exchange Visitors. Premium Processing for additional EAD types will be phased in gradually, from FY2022 to FY2025, as USCIS builds capacity. The Premium processing fee for the approved I-765 EAD case types is $1,500, and the processing timeframe is 30 calendar days.
The Service will use its discretion to suspend Premium Processing to delay implementation of this Final Rule, and to assess its impact on staffing, training and technology demands. While Premium for the three groups described above will go into effect some time in what remains of FY2022, between May 31 and September 30, we won’t know exactly when until USCIS makes an announcement on its website.
Will the expansion result in additional delays for already filed and pending cases of these types? No, that would run afoul of the mandate not to speed up some case types at the expense of others.
Will this change Premium Processing timeframes for previously-authorized case types? Also no. The $2,500 fee and the 15-day time frame for Premium I-129 petitions and for Premium EB-1A extraordinary ability, EB-1B outstanding researcher, and PERM-based EB-2 and EB-3 I-140 immigrant petitions will not change. Only Multinational Manager and NIW I-140s will have a 45-day timeframe for Premium Processing.
If you already have a pending case of one of the above types, and wish to expedite it, you or your attorney may be able to file a Form I-907 Request for Premium Processing along with the applicable filing fee, sometime after May 31, 2022… but they won’t tell us exactly when.Contact