Phased Premium Processing begins for I-140 Immigrant Visa Petitions and I-129 Visa Petitions for Temporary Workers, including the H-1B and L- visa categories
By Donald W. Parker, Immigration Attorney
On May 29, 2020, the USCIS announced the phased resumption of Premium Processing for I-140 Immigrant Visa Petitions and I-129 Visa Petitions for Temporary Workers, including the H-1B and L- visa categories. The USCIS had suspended Premium Processing for 2021 H-1B cap cases on March 16th, and then on March 20th, as a result of the COVID-19 situation for all other eligible I-140 and I-129 visa petitions. Under Premium Processing, a petitioning employer or a sponsored employee can pay a special USCIS fee of $1,440 to ensure processing of the Form I-140 or I-129 within 15 calendar days — without Premium Processing, these visa petitions can take anywhere from 1 to 6 months, or longer, to be processed.
The resumption of Premium Processing will proceed in the following phases:
- Effective June 1, 2020, USCIS will accept Premium Processing for all eligible Form I-140 petitions.
- Effective June 8, USCIS will accept Premium Processing for all pending (i.e., cases filed prior to June 8th) H-1B extensions, H-1B amendments, H-1B change of employer filings and all other pending non-H-1B Form I-129 visa petitions for which Premium Processing was available prior to its suspension.
- Effective June 15, USCIS plans on resuming Premium Processing for all H-1B visa petitions filed on or after June 8thwhere the employer is cap-exempt, where the beneficiary will be employed at a qualifying cap-exempt institution, entity or organization (such as an institution of higher education, a nonprofit research organization or a governmental research organization) or where the beneficiary is cap-exempt based on a Conrad/IGA waiver.
- Effective June 22, USCIS plans on resuming Premium Processing for all other Form I-129 petitions, including H-1B cap-subject petitions and all other Form I-129 petitions for nonimmigrant classifications eligible for premium processing.
The USCIS announcement states that these dates are subject to change as it continues to take on more premium processing requests.