When to use Premium Processing
What is Premium Processing?
On June 1, 2001, the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (now U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) put into place a Premium Processing Service, promising to speed up the agency’s applications decision process on selected work visas.
Under this program, paying an additional $1,000 fee will guarantee an USCIS decision on eligible temporary work visas within 15 calendar days of the receipt of the application by the USCIS. If the application or petition is not adjudicated within the 15 days the additional fee of $1,000 will be refunded and the case will still be completed under the Premium Processing rules.
The processing period that will be used to determine whether or not the USCIS meets the 15-day period will begin when the I-907 is delivered to the USCIS (at the appropriate address) and will end upon the USCIS mailing of a notice. The notice may be a notice of approval, request for evidence, intent to deny or notice of investigation for fraud or misrepresentation.
If the notice requires the submission of additional evidence or of a response to an intent to deny, a new 15-day period will begin upon the delivery to the USCIS of a complete response to the request for evidence or notice of intent to deny.
Who is eligible for Premium Processing?
Beginning with implementation of the program on June 1, 2001, employers filing a Form I-129 to classify a beneficiary under one of the following nonimmigrant categories could request Premium Processing Service: E-1, E-2, H-2B, H-3, L-1, O-1, O-2, P-1, P-2, P-3 and Q-1.
Since July 30th, 2001, the USCIS has made this service also available to employers wishing to file petitions to classify a beneficiary as an H-1B, TN or R nonimmigrant, thus covering all the major work visa categories.
Fee for Premium Processing
The fee for Premium Processing Service is $1,000. The Premium Processing fee is in addition to all other USCIS filing fees for the application or petition.
How to apply for Premium Processing?
Application for premium processing of a petition is made by filing a completed and signed Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service and attaching a separate remittance of $1000. Form I-907, together with Form I-129 and the supporting documents, may be filed with the Premium Processing Service unit of the USCIS Service Center.
Upgrading Regular petition to Premium Processing
In the case where an I-129 petition has already been filed without a request for Premium Processing, the regular processing can be upgraded to Premium Processing by forwarding Form I-907 and the check for remittance of $ 1,000 to the Service Center where the I-129 petition is pending, together with a copy of the Notice of Action Receipt Notice, Form I-797, as proof of receipt of the petition by the Service Center.
The 15-day guarantee
If the Service Center fails to process the petition within 15 calendar days, it will refund the $1,000 to the company and continue to process the petition as part of the Premium Processing Service. In addition to expedited processing, companies who participate in the program may use a dedicated phone number and e-mail address to check on the status of their petition or ask any other questions they may have concerning their petition.
Benefits of Premium Processing: When to use?
Premium Processing can be very effective in certain situations. The first and foremost advantage of Premium Processing is its use for new employment of nonimmigrant beneficiaries who need to wait for the approval of their petition to start work. This holds especially true for H-1B users subject to the H-1B cap.
Premium Processing is also effective for cases pending on a regular track in which an RFE is issued. Petitioners may opt to convert such a case to Premium Processing when submitting an RFE response.
The darker side
In practice, Premium Processing has proven to be a blessing (though an expensive one) in many cases. It may not, however, always be necessary or advisable to use the Premium Processing system.
Premium Processing should be used judiciously. If the Premium Processing examiner issues an RFE, the time sought to be saved may be lost by responding to the RFE. Also, Premium Processing may not be required at all, where the filing of petition is properly planned beforehand.
An unnecessary Premium Processing application may not just be expensive but it may also delay the entire application process. If you are an employer or a nonimmigrant in a similar situation consult a VisaPro attorney.