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Regulation To Expand USCIS Premium Processing Program Clears Federal Review

A U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) final rule that would expand premium processing to include additional case types has cleared the Office of Management and Budget, putting it closer to publication and implementation. The regulation implements Congress’s October 2020 legislation directing USCIS to expand premium processing service to a number of additional case types, including for applications for employment authorization (Form I-765) and nonimmigrant changes of status and extensions of stay for certain dependent family members (Form I-539). The specific contents of the final rule – including the case types eligible for premium processing, processing timelines, and corresponding fees and implementation dates – are not yet known, but implementation of the expansion is expected to be gradual and take place over several months or more.

The issue

A final regulation that would expand U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ (USCIS) premium processing adjudication program to include several additional immigration benefit case types has been approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), putting it a step closer to publication and implementation.  The rule implements legislation that was signed into law in October 2020 as part of a stopgap budget measure. The rule will soon be published in the Federal Register and take effect according to the timeline detailed in the regulation.

The full contents of the final regulation are not yet known and will remain confidential until released for publication in the Federal Register, but the rule is expected to mirror the premium processing case types, fees, and timelines detailed in the October 2020 legislation.  It is also expected that USCIS will implement premium processing for newly eligible categories in phases over the course of several months or more, instead of all at once.

The rule will soon be published in the Federal Register. An advance copy of the rule should be released just prior to publication, which will set forth the details of the expansion.

What it means

There is no immediate change to the premium processing program at this time. The existing premium program for certain I-129 and I-140 petitions remains available.

Employers and foreign nationals should prepare for the full implementation of premium processing expansion to occur slowly and in phases over several months or even longer.

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