The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it resumed premium processing services in phases beginning on June 1.

On March 20, the USCIS temporarily suspended premium processing for both the I-140 and I-129 petitions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which made the agency close its offices to routine public services.

During the temporary closures, USCIS continued to process all I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service it received before the March 20 suspension but did not accept any new premium processing requests. Going by the criteria for-907 processing, it is expected that those whose requests were accepted before the suspension should have received a notice from the USCIS. But in case you are in this category and you haven’t received a notice of action or a refund, you may re-file your I-907 when the service resumes.

Premium processing is an immigration service that allows applicants to expedite their visa petition processing and receive a decision on their cases within 15 calendar days after submitting their petitions. It may be used for both immigrant and nonimmigrant visas at an additional cost.

Premium Processing to Resume in Phases

According to the announcement, the USCIS plans to start accepting I-907 requests for premium processing in phases. The timelines for these phases are June 1, June 8, June 15, and June 22. The agency, however, stated that these dates are subject to change. If you are planning to use premium processing for your visa application, you can submit your I-907 by following the timeline below:

June 1: I-140 Petitions

The USCIS will start accepting I-907 requests for all eligible I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers.

June 8: Some I-129 Petitions

Beginning on June 8, the USCIS plans to start accepting premium processing requests for the following I-129 petitions:

  • Cap-exempt H-1B petitions filed before June 8 and are pending adjudication. Examples include petitions filed by cap-exempt petitioners as well as those where the beneficiaries were previously counted against the cap, including H-1B petition amendments, changes of employer, and extensions. 
  • All other I-129 petitions (non-H-1B petitions) that are eligible for premium processing filed before June 8 and are pending adjudication. This includes the O-1 visa and L-1 visa petitions.

June 15: H-1B Petitions

Effective June 15, the USCIS plans to start accepting premium processing for the following;

  • H-1B I-129 petitions that are concurrently filed with an I-907 (or request for a petition submitted on or after June 8) and are cap-exempt because of any of the following reasons:
    • The employer is cap-exempt or because the H-1B beneficiary will be hired at a qualifying cap-exempt organization, entity, or institution (such as an institution of higher education, a governmental or nonprofit research organization); or
    • The H-1B beneficiary is cap-exempt based on a Conrad/IGA waiver in accordance with INA section 214(l).

June 22: All Other Eligible Categories

Beginning on June 22, the USCIS plans to resume premium processing for all other categories of I-129 petitions, including:

  • All H-1B cap-subject visa petitions (including those filed for the 2021 fiscal year) for both premium processing upgrades and those that were filed concurrently with I-907s. Those filing changing of status from F-1 to H-1B are also included in this timeline.
  • All other I-129 petitions eligible for premium processing and are filed concurrently with I-907.

What This Means for H-1B Employers and Beneficiaries

Premium processing is a unique immigration service that immensely benefits both eligible employers and employees in that it helps you avoid visa processing delays. With the plans to resume the service, employers can now use the I-907 to expedite their I-140 or I-129 petitions and receive a decision within 15 days. As everyone earnestly waits for the economy to recover from the downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic, knowing you have the needed workforce within a short timeframe will be a huge relief to U.S. employers who make use of the H-1B program.

How VisaNation Law Group Can Help 

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VisaNation Law Group helping petitioners request premium processing for various categories of work visas is one of their specialties. They have highly experienced immigration attorneys that can help you file your I-907 request either concurrently with your work visa petition or filed afterward.