The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that it will implement the final phase of its premium processing expansion after receiving authorization in a stopgap funding bill. This expansion will allow premium processing for Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers (Form I-140), those under EB-1 Multinational Executive and Manager, and EB-2 National Interest Waiver (NIW) classifications.
Unlike previous phases, this expansion will apply to initial petitions and previously filed Form I-140s. However, it specifically includes Form I-140s filed under a multinational executive and manager classification (E13) or an individual with an advanced degree or exceptional ability classification (E21) seeking an NIW. In addition, anyone seeking premium processing may file a Request for Premium Processing Service (Form I-907) starting January 30th, 2023.
After approving premium processing requests, the USCIS must move the petition forward within 45 days. However, the agency clarified that it revised the regulation. As a result, the countdown begins after the USCIS has received “all prerequisites for adjudication.” In other words, the USCIS will begin the 45-day countdown after confirming it received all necessary documentation to make a decision on the case.
As such, petitioners could wait much longer than 45 days for USCIS to take action on a given case. In addition, if they receive a Request for Evidence (RFE) or Notice of Intent to Deny instead, the petitioner’s response will restart the 45-day countdown.
Currently, these petitions’ premium processing fee is $2,500. However, USCIS can adjust it biannually based on changes in the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Price Index for all Urban Consumers (CPI-U). However, the agency’s newly proposed fee schedule will have a clear regulatory review process before taking effect. As a result, the premium processing fee would remain unchanged. In the meantime, the adjudication period would change from calendar days to business days. This change effectively extends the premium processing period by one week.
USCIS also announced plans to expand premium processing in May to students seeking Optional Practical Training (OPT) and OPT extensions with a pending Application for Employment Authorization (Form I-765). In April, the agency intends to expand premium processing to students seeking OPT extension by filing an initial Form I-765.
With these expansions, certain employers may see a faster resolution to their workers’ applications. With this in mind, employers should prepare for the employment eligibility verification process (Form I-9). The best way to simplify this process and ensure uniform compliance is with an electronic I-9 management system. This system can provide step-by-step guidance and secure processing for all forms and documentation.
Learn more about automating your employment eligibility verification and ensuring compliance with I-9 Compliance.