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USCIS to Expand Premium Processing to New Categories, Launch Other Backlog Reduction Initiatives

1 Apr

On March 29, 2022, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that the agency would implement the statutory requirement to expand “premium processing” to additional types of petitions and applications and pursue other backlog reduction efforts. The following day USCIS published a Final Rule in the Federal Register which lists the categories that will be eligible for premium processing and the associated government filing fees for each category.

The premium processing expansion rule will go into effect May 31, 2022, but by its terms USCIS will post on the official USCIS website the dates each of the different types of petitions and applications will be accepted for premium processing. USCIS has indicated a plan to begin implementation in the current fiscal year, by September 30, 2022. Accordingly, USCIS should begin implementation after the final rule goes into effect on May 31, and before the end of the fiscal year on September 30th.

In a phased approach, USCIS will extend premium processing benefits to the following additional types of petitions and applications:

Petition or Application Type Premium Processing Fee
 
USCIS Time-Frame Guarantee
I-140 Immigrant Visa Petition for EB-1C Multinational Manager Immigrant Visa Petitions $2,500 45 days
I-140 Immigrant Visa Petition seeking a National Interest Waiver $2,500 45 days
I-539 Application for F, J, or M status $1,750 30 days
I-539 Application for Dependent Status for nonimmigrants holding H, L, O, P, or R status. $1,750 30 days
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization (EAD card) $1,500 30 days

 
Other types of petitions and applications that have been previously eligible for premium processing will remain eligible. USCIS has codified the premium processing fee for each benefit category in the new premium processing rule in accordance with statutory authorization.

In accordance with statutory authority for the expansion of premium processing, USCIS has committed to expand premium processing services without a resulting increase in the adjudication times for petitions and applications under regular processing.

In the March 29 announcement, USCIS published the agency’s “cycle time goals”, or target adjudication timelines for cases that are not filed under the premium processing program. For many categories the target is six months, but for most nonimmigrant petitions USCIS indicates a target time of two months. Applications for Employment Authorization (Form I-765), Advance Parole (I-131), Extension or Change of Status (I-529), and USCIS Action on an Approved Petition (I-824) are listed with targets of 3 months. USCIS hopes to reach these goals by September 30, 2023.

USCIS has also announced that the agency continues to work on an upcoming rule that would address the issue of lengthy adjudications of I-765 Applications for Employment Authorization with the goal of mitigating the impact on certain applicants and avoiding loss of work authorization.

Foster will continue to monitor changes in USCIS programs, regulations and fees and will make future updates available via the firm’s website at www.fosterglobal.com.