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Your Employment-Based Petition May Be Eligible For 15-Day Premium Processing Service

USCIS's premium processing program allows petitioners and applicants to request expedited processing of certain cases. Under the Premium Processing Service, in exchange for the $1,000 processing fee, USCIS guarantees that designated petitions and applications will be processed within 15 calendar days. 8 CFR 103.2(f)(1). Currently not all petitions are eligible for premium processing; only those petitions filed on Form I-129 for Nonimmigrant Workers such as E-1; E-2, H-1B; H-2B; H-3; L-1; O-1; O-2; P-1; P-3; Q-1; TN and R are eligible.

Given how quickly the H-1B cap was reached for Fiscal Year 2007 (less than two months from the initial date of filing April 1, 2006), it is obvious that most applicants are paying a premium to get their petitions adjudicated within the 15-day window.

USCIS will soon publish a notice that will expand its Premium Processing Service to include nearly all employment-based immigrant visa petitions filed on Form I-140 (immigrant worker petitions). The agency will also extend premium processing to certain Form I-539 applications to change or extend nonimmigrant status as well as to Form I-765 applications to renew employment authorization for foreign nationals with pending employment-based applications for adjustment of status. In addition, USCIS will permit concurrent filing of Forms I-539 and I-765 for certain nonimmigrant classifications.

Basically, upon payment of a $1,000 fee and submission of the supporting documentation, USCIS has to take action within 15 calendar days of filing - by issuing an approval, a denial or a request for evidence (RFE) in the case; if the agency does not take action on the case within the stated period -- the $1,000 fee is refunded.

Proposed Expansion: Form I-140 (Immigrant Worker Petitions) Premium Processing

USCIS will permit premium processing service to most employment-based (EB) immigrant visa petitions filed on Form I-140. Premium service will be available for the following employment-based immigrant categories:

Proposed Expansion: Form I-539 Premium Processing

Premium processing is also being expanded to include certain applications for extension of status or change of status filed on Form I-539, as follows:

Form I-765 Premium Processing

USCIS will extend premium processing service to Form I-765 applications to renew employment authorization for foreign nationals who have pending Form I-485 applications to adjust status that are supported by immigrant visa petitions in the EB-1 through EB-5 classifications. No other type of employment authorization application on Form I-765 is yet available for premium processing service.

The moral of the story is this: Time is money; if you can afford premium processing, go forward with it.

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