Premium Service

Posted on October 31, 2006 by Warren Wen | Category: Immigration

The Influence of the Expansion of Premium Service Scope by the USCIS on Green Card Application

To cut backlogged cases and speed up the overall immigration case processing, the USCIS has introduced the Premium Processing Service in 2001. With this service, the USCIS requires the applicant to pay $1,000 premium processing fee in addition to its normal application fee, and in turn promises to process the case in 15 days.  Within 15 days, the USCIS must either decide to approve or deny the case, or request for additional evidences, or issue a notice of intent to deny.

In general, the Premium Processing Service is applied in the following two categories: non-immigrant working visa applications and employment-based immigration visa applications.  Unfortunately, the Premium processing Service is not allowed for the family-based immigration cases at this point.

In case of non-immigrant working visa, the Premium Processing Service can be used for the following petitions: E-1/E-2, H-1B/H-2B/H-3, L-1A/L-1B, O-1/O-2, P-1/P-2, Q-1, R-1, and TN.  If the USCIS cannot make a decision on the case in 15 days, the USCIS must return the $1,000 premium processing fee to the applicant.

The petitioners of the following employment-based immigration categories are allowed to use the Premium Processing Service when filing I-140 petitions: Personals of extraordinary ability and outstanding professors and researchers in EB-1; Advanced degree professionals and persons of exceptional ability in EB-2; and skilled or professional workers in EB-3.  Petitioners of the national interest waiver category are excluded from this service.  Even if the petitioner falls into one of the above categories, however, the USCIS may not accept the applications for Premium Processing Service in the following cases:

  1. A second filing of I-140 petition while the initial filing of I-140 remains pending;
  2. Labor Certification substitution requests; and
  3. Duplicate of Labor Certification requests (i.e., the cases filed without an original labor certification from the Department of Labor).

The USCIS prescribes these additional conditions regarding the use of Premium Processing Service for I-140 petition, and this is because the USCIS is trying to avoid the situations that may make it difficult to guarantee that it will process the case within 15 days due to various special requirements, including internally locating and transferring of other files or documents needed or requesting initial evidences from an outside agencies for the processing of the case.
Although the premium processing fee is expensive, it would be a very valuable service for those petitioners who are in special situations where they need to have their petitions approved in a very short time. Moreover, the USCIS allows the Premium Processing Service for H-2B and H-3 petitions as well, and this service can be very beneficial to the employers since it will allow more flexibility in making plans to bring foreign workers to work in the US.

This article is only for your reference. Please do not apply mechanically to any exact cases. You are welcome to consult our attorneys at Liu & Associates, P.C. For contact information, please click here.