By Andrea Lee
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced the expansion of premium processing service to more case types. Premium processing is an expedited adjudication service for specific types of forms filed with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). It is currently available to those filing a Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, or a Form I-140 for certain employment-based immigrant visa petitioners. The final rule expands the regulation to apply to three more categories, detailed below.
Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status
This form is commonly used for spouses of individuals who hold nonimmigrant employment visas in the United States. Premium processing is already available for employees seeking temporary work visas, which allows for quick adjudication of their petitions. However, their spouse’s applications currently get delayed with long backlogs, without the option for premium processing. Hopefully, this new rule will help keep families on the same processing timeline, now that the employee, their spouse, and their children are eligible for premium processing.
Form I-765, Application for Work Authorization
U.S. employers are required to verify the identity and authorization to work for all employees. For many non-immigrants, this is often done by showing an employment authorization document (EAD), issued after Form I-765 is approved. Without an approved EAD, many individuals must take extended unpaid leave from work or become unemployed altogether.
This new premium processing rule gives applicants the opportunity to pay the premium processing fee to receive approved work authorization within 15 calendar days of submission. Cases that are now taking almost a year may be approved in just two weeks. The expansion of premium processing regulations is great news for employers and employees alike.
Form I-140, Petition for Alien Worker
The Form I-140 Petition for Alien Worker is used by employers to request permanent residency for an employee, often after the certification of a PERM labor certification application. Premium processing was already available to certain categories under the I-140 petition. This new rule adds premium processing options for additional classifications in the employment-based immigrant visas, such as national interest waivers or multinational executives or managers.
The new expansion will be implemented in a phased approach, starting in fiscal year 2023 (which starts on October 1, 2022). USCIS plans to begin the implementation process with Form I-140, for those requesting EB-1 classification as a multinational executive or manager and EB-2 classification as a member of professions with advanced degrees or exceptional ability seeking a national interest waiver.
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Karol Brown is the managing attorney at World One Law Group in Bellevue, Washington. World One specializes in employment and business immigration, family-based immigration, naturalization, as well as asylum, DACA, VAWA, and U-Visa cases.