U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) today announced that it plans to resume premium processing for Forms I-129 (nonimmigrant visa petitions) and eligible Forms I-140 (immigrant visa petitions) in phases over the next month. On March 20, the agency temporarily suspended premium processing due to the COVID-19 emergency.
Premium Processing Timeline
USCIS now plans to accept Form I-907 premium processing requests according to the below timeline, but notes that all dates are subject to change. The agency especially notes that the June 15 and June 22 phase-in dates are tentative.
June 1: USCIS begins accepting premium processing requests for all eligible Form I-140 petitions.
June 8: USCIS begins accepting premium processing upgrade requests for the following Form I-129 case types that were filed before June 8:
- Cap-exempt H-1B petitions (for example, those filed by cap-exempt employers and those where the beneficiary was previously counted against the cap, including H-1B extensions, H-1B changes of employer and H-1B petition amendments); and
- All other (non-H-1B) nonimmigrant petitions eligible for premium processing, including L-1 and O-1 petitions.
June 15: USCIS plans on accepting premium processing requests for:
- H-1B petitions that are filed concurrently with an I-907 (or an upgrade request for a petition filed on or after June 8), provided the petition is exempt from the cap because:
- The employer is cap-exempt or because 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
- The beneficiary is cap-exempt based on a Conrad/IGA waiver under INA section 214(l).
June 22: USCIS plans on resuming premium processing for all other Form I-129 petitions, including:
- All H-1B cap-subject petitions (including those for fiscal year 2021), for both premium processing upgrades and concurrently-filed I-907s; and
- All other Form I-129 petitions for nonimmigrant classifications eligible for premium processing.
USCIS will publicly announce any changes to the above timeline.
As a reminder, under the new H-1B registration and filing process, the H-1B filing period lasts until June 30.
What this Means for Employers and Foreign Nationals
Employers will be able to begin submitting premium processing requests for eligible I-140 and I-129 petitions starting June 1, according to the above timelines. Organizations can work with their legal professional to identify cases that may qualify for premium processing in each stage of the phase-in, but should also be prepared for the possibility that USCIS may postpone the start dates of the later phases.