A blog about U.S. immigration matters by Paul Szeto, a former INS attorney and an experienced immigration lawyer. We serve clients in all U.S. states and overseas countries. (All information is not legal advice and is subject to change without prior notice.)

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Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Rule to expand premium processing for I-539, I-765, EB-1C and EB-2; set target processing timeframes

A new rule published by DHS today creates a long-term plan to reduce USCIS case backlogs, increase processing timeframes and also expand premium processing services to include I-539, I-765, EB-1C and EB-2 NIW applications.

The new goals of processing timeframes are as follows:

  • I-129 premium, I-140 premium:  2 weeks
  • I-129 non-premium: 2 months
  • I-765, I-131 advance parole, I-539, I-824: 3 months
  • N-400, N-600, I-485, I-140 non-premium, I-130, I-290B, I-360, I-102, I-526, I-600, I-600A, I-730, I-800, I-800A, I-90, I-821D renewals:  6 months

These are certainly ambitious goals. Given the current volume of backlogs, it may take some time to achieve these goals.  But, by setting up these goals, both the agency and the public have something to work towards and look forward to. 

Expansion of Premium Processing Services: 

The rule also codifies premium processing fees provided by Congress under the Emergency Stopgap USCIS Stabilization Act (H.R. 8089) including: 

  • Form I-140 requesting EB-1C immigrant classification as a multinational executive or manager or EB-2 immigrant classification as a member of professions with advanced degrees or exceptional ability seeking a national interest waiver (NIW). Fee: $2,500. Timeframe: 45 days;
  • Form I-539 requesting a change of status to F-1, F-2, J-1, J-2, M-1, or M-2 nonimmigrant status or a change of status to or extension of stay in E-1, E2, E-3, H-4, L-2, O-3, P-4, or R-2 nonimmigrant status. Fee: $1,750. Timeframe: 30 days; and
  • Form I-765 requesting employment authorization. Fee: $1,500. Timeframe: 30 days.

Without setting up a fixed schedule, USCIS announced a long-term plan to implement premium processing services in phases to additional applications.

USCIS intends to implement expansion of premium processing availability of Forms I-539, I-765 and I-140 "as soon as feasible" in FY 2022.   There are currently no plans to expand premium processing to additional applications. 

Even regarding the aforementioned forms, premium processing is limited to certain type of visa statuses as described above. 

For I-765, certain application categories will be given higher priorities.  For example, DHS expects to begin premium processing EADs for F-1 students applying for Optional Practical Training (OPT) and exchange visitors some time in FY 2022. 

As usual, we must wait for further instructions from USCIS to know the details. Stay tuned!

(Immigration laws and policies change regularly.  If you have any questions regarding this article, please visit www.1visa1.com to schedule a legal consultation.) 

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