On Friday, May 29, 2020, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced plans for the phased-in resumption of premium processing for eligible I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker petitions and eligible I-129 Nonimmigrant Worker petitions. (See USCIS website at https://www.uscis.gov/news/alerts/uscis-resumes-premium-processing-certain-petitions.)

USCIS temporarily suspended premium processing availability for all eligible Form I-129 and I-140 petitions on March 20, 2020, due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) national emergency.  After nearly two months without premium processing, this is welcome news. Of course, the announcement includes a caveat–USCIS may change its phase-in plans as needed based on the circumstances.

An appropriately prepared and filed Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service packet continues to be the means for upgrading a pending petition or to concurrently request premium processing for an upcoming filing.

According to USCIS’s announcement, the resumption of Premium Processing is planned to occur in phases during the month of June and USCIS will accept I-907s as follows:

  • Effective Monday, June 1:  I-907s accepted for all eligible Form I-140 petitions.
  • Effective Monday, June 8:  I-907s accepted for certain I-129 petitions filed before June 8 and pending, including:
    • Cap-Exempt H-1B petitions (e.g., those filed by cap-exempt petitioners and for beneficiaries previously counted toward the numerical limits); and
    • All other (non H-1B) I-129 petitions for eligible nonimmigrant classifications such as for L-1 Intracompany Transferees, E Treaty Traders and Investors, O-1 Aliens of Extraordinary Ability, etc.
  • Effective Monday, June 15:  I-907s accepted for Cap-Exempt H-1B petitions filed after June 8 with a concurrently filed request for premium processing, including those exempt from the H-1B Cap because:
    • The employer is cap-exempt or the beneficiary will be employed at a qualifying cap-exempt institution, entity or organization (such as an institution of higher education, a non-profit research organization or a governmental research organization); or
    • The beneficiary is cap-exempt based on a J-1 Physician Conrad/IGA waiver under INA section 214(l).
  • Effective Monday, June 22:  I-907s accepted for all other I-129 petitions, including: 
    • All FY-2021 H-1B Cap-Subject petitions (e.g., including change of status from F-1 nonimmigrant status, for both premium processing upgrades and concurrently filed I-907s.)
    • All other I-129 petitions for eligible nonimmigrant classifications with a concurrently filed I-907.
  • Pre-March 20, 2020 Premium Processing Requests:
    • Petitioners whose pre-March 20 premium processing requests relating to eligible I-129 and/or I-140 petitions received no action and for which the premium processing fee was refunded may refile their Form I-907 Request for Premium Processing Service following the announced timings—and keeping in mind that USCIS may announce date changes at any time in the future.
    • For Petitioners whose pre-March 20 premium processing requests otherwise remain pending, the USCIS announcement states that the Agency will continue “to process any petition with a previously accepted Form I-907, in accordance with the premium processing service criteria.”

Now is the time to prepare, file, etc.  As mentioned, the dates set forth are subject to change so it’s important to watch for updates as USCIS takes on more premium processing requests. USCIS will announce date changes accordingly.

Ms. Wadhwani is a Partner and Co-Chair of the Immigration Practice Group at Fox Rothschild LLP.  For nearly 25 years, her practice has focused on business immigration law and compliance, primarily in the health care, general corporate and academic sectors.  Ms. Wadhwani’s practice covers the United States and Consulates worldwide.  She is based in our Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania office.  Please contact Ms. Wadhwani at cwadhwani@foxrothschild.com or at 412-394-5540.