Third Phase of Premium Processing Expansion Underway

On September 15, 2022, USCIS launched the third phase of expanding its premium processing service. For those who do not recall, premium processing allows you to pay USCIS more money for them to process your case faster than usual. Premium processing is only available for certain cases and, until earlier this year, was NOT available for the National Interest Waiver cases (EB-2) or the Multinational Executive and Manager category (EB-13).

The first phase expanded premium processing first to EB-13 cases on June 1, 2022 (only for EB-13 cases filed on or before January 1, 2021), then to EB-2 NIW cases on July 1, 2022 (only to EB-2 cases filed on or before June 1, 2021) as well as expanding the EB-13 cases covered to those filed on or before March 1, 2021.

Phase 2 started on August 1, 2021, and expanded the NIW cases allowed to use premium processing to those filed on or before August 1, 2021, and for EB-13 cases, to those filed on or before July 1, 2021. Small changes, but at least forward movement consistently.

Phase 3 began as of September 15, 2022, and saw expansion to NIW cases filed on or before February 1, 2022, and to EB-13 cases filed on or before January 1, 2022. This seven-month jump was a much more significant jump in terms of cases allowed and hopefully means we may be close to full implementation of premium for these cases (meaning that you can ask for a case you are currently filing to use premium processing). In addition, we are still waiting to hear when USCIS will allow premium processing for other benefits, such as I-765 Applications for Work Authorization.

Before anyone rushes out to use premium processing, there are a few things to remember. First, it is an additional $2500 fee to use premium for any I-140 application. Second, premium processing is not always a smart thing to use. Premium processing has been available for the EB-1A extraordinary ability application for many years now. While usually, that process is ok to use and the result of the application (approval, denial, whether a request for evidence is issued) is the same as using the normal process, there are times when that is not the case. In fact, for about a year now, premium cases for extraordinary ability applications have been very uneven. Some officers send out requests for evidence and denials on such cases at a much higher rate than usual, but not all officers. This type of behavior leads to extremely varied outcomes for similar cases. And this happened previously several years ago as well. It usually straightens itself out over time but then, at some point, pops up again.

Unfortunately, because premium processing for National Interest Waiver cases has been around for a very short period, we do not have a clear idea if it will affect those cases similarly. It may be wise for people with less-than-ideal cases to not use premium until more information is available and we have a better idea of how cases are adjudicated. For those with long pending, solid cases, however, this may be helpful to get your case adjudicated quicker.

If you wish to utilize premium on your currently pending case, please use the following link to set up an appointment so we can discuss your case:

Please remember, as always, this blog does not offer legal advice. If you need legal advice, consult with a lawyer instead of a blog. Thank you.

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