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USCIS Resumes Premium Processing for R-1 Visa Classification
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U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that, effective July 20, 2009; it will resume Premium Processing Service for nonimmigrant religious worker petitions filed by certain R-1 petitioners. Only those petitioners who have successfully passed an on-site inspection are eligible to file under Premium Processing Service.

In August 2005, USCIS’ Office of Fraud Detection and National Security completed a Benefit Fraud Assessment (BFA) which focused on religious worker petitions. Based on that assessment, USCIS initiated a site inspection requirement as part of the adjudication process for religious worker petitions.

Due to the requirement for a successful site inspection prior to approval, premium processing was suspended for R-1 nonimmigrant religious worker visa petitions on November 28, 2006.

Under Premium Processing Service, USCIS guarantees petitioners that, for a $1,225 processing fee, it will issue either an approval notice or, where appropriate, a denial notice, a notice of intent to deny, a request for evidence, or open an investigation for fraud or misrepresentation, within 15 calendar days of receipt. If the petition is not processed within 15 calendar days, USCIS will refund the $1,225 fee and continue to process the request under normal processing times.

As the processing of R-1 nonimmigrant petitions includes procedures such as inspections, evaluations, verifications and compliance reviews, designed to ensure the legitimacy of the petitioner and statements made in the petition, USCIS cannot reasonably ensure the processing of R-1 nonimmigrant petitions within 15 calendar days for those petitioners who have not previously had a successful completion of a site inspection.

Accordingly, USCIS will resume its acceptance of Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service, for Form I-129s, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, requesting R-1 nonimmigrant visa classification, only from those religious organizations that have previously had a successful completion of a site inspection at the location where the beneficiary will be employed.

Prior to accepting the Form I-907, USCIS will conduct a system search to verify whether or not a successful site inspection was completed at the location where the beneficiary will work. The petitioner may choose to submit a copy of Form I-797 approval notice for the previously approved R petition to facilitate USCIS in locating the petitioner’s site inspection record.

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