Frequently asked Questions on Premium Processing
June 6, 2022
What exactly is Premium Processing?
Premium processing is a service, where available, for an extra fee employers can get a decision from the USCIS much more quickly on certain employment-based visa petitions. This usually costs $2,500 and you should get a decision in 15 (or 45) calendar days depending on the visa classification. The premium processing service is an optional additional filing fee/form that is usually filed at the time you submit your petition. Both employment-based immigrant visas (such as the EB-1/EB-2) and employment-based non-immigrant visas (such as the H-1B) can use premium processing.
Is premium processing available for my wife’s petition?
Unfortunately, no. The USCIS does not have premium processing available for any family-based petitions (I-130 “Petition for Alien Relative”). Your best strategy is to speak to an immigration attorney and arrange for your petition to be filed efficiently and early.
Should I use Premium Processing? What are some risks and benefits of pursuing a Premium Processing Service?
It really depends on the priorities of the employer and how urgently they want to be able to sponsor and then hire a potential foreign employee. For example, if an employer wants quicker access to talented international workers like software engineers, researchers, or business executives, the premium processing service may be appealing. Without premium processing, employers may have to wait an additional number of months before their petitions get approved. However, premium processing only speeds up the approval time for the initial petition (such as the I-140). The availability or scheduling of consular interviews is an entirely different process and there may still be long waits for appointments at the U.S. Consulates.
Remember, Premium Processing is an additional filing fee that is paid to the government (USCIS) and not to your immigration attorney. It is not the same as requesting your attorney to do a “rush job” where you need to request (and possibly pay extra) for your attorney to work faster and prioritize your case to get it filed under a specific deadline. Immigration attorneys typically work on schedules and generally have a certain time frame in mind to file for a specific visa and obtain all the necessary supporting documents and evidence.
Here is a good analogy of Premium Processing in the Green Card context . Imagine a 100-mile-long immigration journey on a crowded highway. Premium processing for an immigrant visa (employment-based green card) is like paying for the express pass on the interstate for 40% of the journey. For an additional cost, you can bypass a lot of the traffic for the first 40 miles, but once the express lanes end, you still are in the same congested line for the last 60 miles waiting for your consulate interview.
Opting for premium processing is beneficial in the opinion of most experienced immigration attorneys but is not without its risks. Outside of the additional cost, some legal professionals believe that the USCIS is stricter when adjudicating employment/investment visa petitions under premium processing. In the long run, as long as you and your immigration attorney believe you meet the specific requirements of your work/business visa category, paying for premium processing is usually the right decision.
I just read somewhere that there are brand new changes to Premium Processing?
Starting on June 1, 2022, the USCIS will allow for certain heavily backlogged pending/previously filed employment-based visa applications to upgrade to a premium processing service when it was previously not available.
1) If you have a pending I-140 for a multi-national manager/executive (L-1 visa) received by Jan 1, 2021, you can upgrade to premium processing after June 1, 2022.
2) If you have a pending I-140 for extraordinary ability seeking a National Interest Wavier (EB-2 NIW) received by Mar 1, 2021, you can upgrade to premium processing after July 1, 2022.
3) To do this upgrade, a current pending petitioner must file a Form I-907, which is a "Request For a Premium Processing Service".
Remember, the USCIS will reject Premium Processing requests (for those previously mentioned classifications) that are filed before their start date of June 1, 2022 or July 1, 2022. Also, the USCIS will not accept new I-140s in these two categories with a premium processing request at this time - only pending applications can make this request