Premium processing guarantees that United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will complete processing of a visa application through to adjudication in 15 calendar days in most cases. Applicants pay extra for it, and it has only been available for select visas in the past.
On January 12, USCIS announced what appears to be a drastic expansion of premium processing, starting on January 30 when all new and pending E13 multinational executive and manager petitioners and E21 National Interest Waiver (NIW) petitioners can file a Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service.
The request comes with a price—$2,500—but in this case, it means petitioners will get an answer within 45 days.
According to the announcement, the expansion of premium processing is “part of our efforts to increase efficiency and reduce burdens to the overall legal immigration system.”
Starting in March, USCIS will also offer premium processing to certain F-1 students seeking Optional Practical Training (OPT) and F-1 students seeking STEM OPT extensions who have a pending Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization. In April, they will also offer premium processing to F-1 students seeking OPT and F-1 students seeking STEM OPT extensions who are filing a Form I-765 for the first time. USCIS plans to also offer premium processing for other kinds of visa applications over the course of the year.
The previous administration added layers of scrutiny and investigation to many visa applications, which slowed an already sluggish system, and it sapped USCIS’ financial and manpower resources. Premium processing offers applicants a way to speed the process.
“Expanding premium processing does not solve USCIS processing issues,” Forbes’ Stuart Anderson writes. “However, it provides the agency with more revenue that can be used to address those issues and can help individuals and their employers overcome processing delays by paying an additional fee.”
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