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When to Use USCIS Premium Processing Service?
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What is USCIS’s “Premium Processing” Service?

The Premium Processing Service Came into Effect on June 1, 2001 to Expedite USCIS’s Application Decision Process:
On June 1, 2001, the legacy U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) implemented the Premium Processing Service promising to speed up the agency's applications decision process on select types of employment-based petitions and applications.

USCIS Provides a Decision Within 15 Calendar Days:
Under the USCIS Premium Processing Service, paying an additional fee (currently $1,225) will guarantee a USCIS decision on certain employment-based petitions and applications within 15 calendar days of the receipt of the petition or application by the USCIS or within 15 calendar days of the receipt of the premium processing request for a petition or application already pending. If the application or petition is not adjudicated within the 15 days the additional fee will be refunded and the case will still be completed under the Premium Processing rules.

USCIS’s “Decision” Could be an Approval, Denial or Request for Evidence:
The processing time of the 15-day period begins when the Form I-907 is received by USCIS (at the appropriate address) and will end upon the mailing of the USCIS notice. The notice may be a notice of approval, denial notice, request for evidence, notice of intent to deny or notice to open an investigation for fraud or misrepresentation.

NOTE: If the notice requires the submission of additional evidence or a response to an intent to deny, a new 15-day period will begin upon the receipt of a complete response documents by USCIS.


Who is Eligible for USCIS’s Premium Processing Service?

Non-immigrant Work Visas (I-129 Petitions)

E-1, E-2, H-1B, H-2B, H-3, L-1, O-1, O-2, P-1, P-2, P-3, Q-1, R-1 and TN:

Employers filing a Form I-129 to classify a beneficiary under E-1, E-2, H-1B, H-2B, H-3, L-1, O-1, O-2, P-1, P-2, P-3, Q-1, R-1 and TN nonimmigrant categories can request USCIS’s Premium Processing Service.

Note 1: Premium Processing Service for nonimmigrant religious worker (R-1) visa petitions was initially suspended on November 28, 2006. On July 20, 2009, USCIS resumed acceptance of Form I-907 for I-129 petitions seeking R-1 classification but only from those petitioners who have previously completed a successful on-site inspection at the location where the beneficiary will be employed

Note 2: Premium Processing Service is not available for any Form I-129 that requests a change or initial grant of status for beneficiaries within the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). 

Employment Based Green Cards (I-140 Petitions)

The USCIS has also extended the Premium Processing Service to certain Form I-140s, as below:

EB-1:
Premium Processing Service is available for I-140 petitions filed to classify a beneficiary as an Alien of Extraordinary Ability or Outstanding Professor and Researcher under the EB-1 Green Card category.

Premium Processing Service is not currently available for I-140 petitions filed on behalf of Multinational Executives and Managers under the EB-1 Green Card category.

EB-2:
Premium Processing Service is available for I-140 petitions filed on behalf of members of professions with Advanced Degrees or Exceptional Ability not seeking a National Interest Waiver under the EB-2 Green Card category. Premium Processing Service is currently not available for I-140 petitions filed on behalf of members of professions with Advanced Degrees or Exceptional Ability seeking a National Interest Waiver under the EB-2 Green Card category.

EB-3:
Premium Processing Service is available for I-140 petitions filed on behalf of Professionals and Skilled Workers under the EB-3 Green Card category.

Additional Conditions:

Premium Processing Service is available for the Form I-140 classifications as above, provided that the case does not involve:

  • A second filing of a Form I-140 petition while an initial Form I-140 remains pending;
  • Duplicate Labor Certification requests, i.e., cases filed without an original labor certification from the Department of Labor, and;
  • A Form I-140 petition in which a final decision has already been made.

Further, Premium Processing Service requests may be rejected if the filing fails to clearly establish the conditions of availability and/or is incorrectly submitted concurrently with a Form I-140 petition at a USCIS office without geographic jurisdiction over the Form I-140 petition.

 

What is the Fee for Premium Processing Service?

The fee for USCIS Premium Processing Service is currently $1,225. The Premium Processing fee is in addition to all other USCIS filing fees for the application or petition.


How to Apply for Premium Processing?

Use Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service: 
An application for premium processing of a petition is made by filing a completed and signed Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service and attaching a separate remittance of $1,225.

Form I-907 may be filed together with the Form I-129 or Form I-140 and the supporting documents, at the USCIS Service Center designated as the appropriate filing location on the primary form instructions.

In the case where an I-129 or I-140 petition has already been filed without a request for Premium Processing, the petition can be upgraded to Premium Processing by forwarding Form I-907 and the check for remittance of $1,225 to the Service Center where the I-129 or I-140 petition is currently pending, together with a copy of the Notice of Action Receipt Notice, Form I-797, as proof of receipt of the petition by the Service Center. If you have received a transfer notice, it is very important that you include a copy of it and that you submit Form I-907 to the transferred location.

Filing Form I-907 at a wrong Service Center:
USCIS will reject any Form I-907 premium processing service request that is filed at an office without geographic jurisdiction over the underlying petition if the Form I-907 is filed:

  • concurrently with a Form I-140 petition;
  • concurrently with a Form I-129 petition; or
  • as a standalone relating to a pending Form I-129 petition.

In the case of a standalone Form I-907 relating to a Form I-140 petition erroneously filed at the wrong service center, USCIS will not reject the filing, but instead will forward the filing to the correct service center having jurisdiction over the petition or application. For incorrectly filed Forms I-907, the 15-calendar day period will start on the date the file is received at the correct service center as indicated in the Form I-907 filing instructions.

The 15-day Guarantee:
If the USCIS Service Center fails to process the petition within 15 calendar days, it will refund the premium processing filing fee and continue to process the petition as part of the Premium Processing Service. In addition to expedited processing, companies who participate in the program may use a dedicated phone number and e-mail address to check on the status of their petition or ask any other questions they may have concerning their petition.


When Should You Opt to Use Premium Processing Service

When You Need to Get an Answer Quickly
Premium Processing can be very effective in certain situations where a relatively rapid response is crucial. A common example is when an employer needs to have an employee commence employment as soon as possible. In the case of most nonimmigrant visa categories, including H-1B and L-1 in certain scenarios, the nonimmigrant cannot begin working until the petition is approved.


CASE SCENARIO
Juan finished his bachelor’s degree in accounting and has been working for Company A pursuant to his Optional Practical Training (OPT) since graduation. Juan’s OPT will expire on December 31 and Company A is not willing to file for an H-1B for him. On December 1 he receives an employment offer from Company B. The H-1B cap is still open and Company B is willing to sponsor Juan’s H-1B. They want him to start on January 1. If Company B uses the regular process, it could be three to four months before they get an approval for him and Juan would not be able to work at Company A beyond December 31 when his OPT expires or start with Company B until the H-1B is approved. By using the Premium Processing Service the H-1B petition will be approved within 15 days of filing and Juan will be able to start on January 1.


To Speed Up Processing After Delay Caused By a Request for Evidence
USCIS Premium Processing Service is also effective for cases pending on a regular track in which an RFE is issued. Petitioners may opt to convert such a case to Premium Processing when submitting the response to the RFE response in order to get a final decision quicker.


When Not to Use Premium Processing Service

Not Required In All Cases:

The Premium Processing Service can be cost prohibitive for many employers and beneficiaries. It is important to remember that the service may not always be necessary or advisable to use. 


Conclusion:

Premium Processing Service should be used judiciously. If the Premium Processing examiner issues an RFE, the time sought to be saved may be lost in responding to the RFE. Also, Premium Processing may not be required at all where the filing of petition is properly planned beforehand.

An unnecessary Premium Processing application may not just be expensive but it may also delay the entire application process. If you are an employer or a nonimmigrant with questions about premium processing, consult a VisaPro attorney.


The above article is brought to you by VisaPro. VisaPro’s U.S. Immigration Lawyer Services include H-1B visas, L-1 visas, P-1 visas, P-3 visas, O-1 visas, Green Cards and over 100 Immigration Services.

The information in this article is not intended to be legal advice. If you have questions specific to your case, we suggest that you consult with the experienced immigration attorneys at consultattorney.visapro.com 

Visit VisaPro regularly for updates and the latest immigration news at www.visapro.com 


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