The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that premium processing had expanded again.
This time, it intends to address F-1 students seeking extensions for Optional Practical Training (OPT) and STEM OPT. In addition, the USCIS will also work with students with pending Applications for Employment Authorization (Form I-765). As a result, these students can now benefit from premium processing of their work authorization.
The USCIS stated that F-1 students can now file Requests for Premium Processing Service (Form I-907) online. However, the agency assured everyone that it would still accept paper forms. The USCIS expects this change will benefit students seeking work experience in their areas of study. In addition, employers would avoid the considerable wait times these applications have often suffered.
According to USCIS Director Ur M. Jaddou, “The availability of premium processing for certain F-1 students, in addition to the ease of online filing, will streamline the immigration experience for a great many international students.” The Director also stated, “The ongoing expansion of online filing is a priority for USCIS as we continue to create operational efficiencies and increase access to the immigration system for stakeholders, applicants, petitioners, requesters, and those we serve.”
Premium processing will cost $1,500 and offer a 30-day processing timeframe for USCIS to take action after meeting application prerequisites. However, a new timeframe would begin should the USCIS issue a Request for Evidence or Notice of Intent to Deny. As a result, mean actual timeframes may greatly exceed 30 calendar days.
F-1 students can expect the introduction of premium processing phases on March 6, 2023. However, this applies to students with pending Form I-765 filing under one of the following categories:
Beginning April 3, 2023, the USCIS will accept premium processing requests from students in these categories. In addition, they will accept initial and concurrent Form I-765 applications filed online or via paper.
These changes are the latest expansion of premium processing, which should significantly reduce processing time in key areas. In addition, the USCIS expects to expand premium processing to certain students further. The agency intends to do the same for exchange visitors attempting to change their status on Form I-539.
For employers, this latest development will allow potential employees to gain employment authorization. In addition, employers must verify this authorization through the employment eligibility verification process (Form I-9) in a reasonable time. Compliance with the employment eligibility verification process is critical to avoid unnecessary fines and other penalties.
The best way to ensure uniform compliance is to invest in electronic I-9 management tools. This tool can guide employers through every step of the process. It also provides secure storage of forms and documentation and helpful reminders on when to take action.
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