The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) offers a premium processing service for faster processing of certain immigration forms. This expedited service allows applicants to receive a decision on their case within a guaranteed timeframe – 15 calendar days for Form I-129, 30 for Form I-140, and 45 for Form I-539 and Form I-765.
If you have filed or are planning to file an eligible form with USCIS, premium processing can help speed up the adjudication process. Here is what you need to know about requesting a premium processing service.
How Premium Processing Works
Premium processing allows applicants to pay an extra fee for faster processing and a guaranteed timeframe for a decision on their immigration form. Here are some key aspects of how it works:
- Guaranteed Processing Time: USCIS guarantees 15 calendar days of processing for Form I-129, 30 days for Form I-140, and 45 days for Form I-539 and I-765 when premium processing is requested.
- Additional Fee: An additional fee is required to request premium processing, which is currently $2,500 for Form I-129 and I-140 and $1,750 for Form I-539 and I-765.
- Refund Provision: If USCIS does not take action within the guaranteed processing timeframe, the premium processing fee is refunded to the applicant.
- Case Inquiry: Applicants can inquire about their premium processed case if they do not receive a response within the guaranteed time.
- Prioritization: Premium processing prioritizes adjudication of the case but does not guarantee approval. USCIS will still evaluate eligibility based on statutes and regulations.
Benefits of Premium Processing
There are several advantages to utilizing premium processing:
- Quicker Adjudication: The 15, 30, or 45-day processing guarantee allows faster decision-making on your immigration case or petition.
- Peace of Mind: Knowing that your case will be acted on within a set timeframe provides greater predictability.
- Ability to Plan Ahead: Quicker adjudication provides the ability to move forward with the next steps, like visa interviews, travel, employment authorization, or other proceedings.
- Refund Option: If the processing time guarantee is unmet, applicants can get the premium processing fee refunded.
While premium processing does come at an additional cost, the expedited decision and other benefits are often worth it for applicants seeking faster adjudication. Our experienced family immigration lawyers can advise if premium processing may benefit your unique situation.
What Forms Are Eligible for Premium Processing?
USCIS currently offers premium processing service for the following forms:
Form I-129 Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker
Employers use this form to petition for an employee’s nonimmigrant work visa, such as:
The I-129 premium processing expansion is being introduced in phases. As of March 2022, you can request premium processing for certain cap-exempt H-1B petitions.
USCIS plans to expand premium processing availability to all I-129 petitions eventually.
Form I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker
The I-140 is filed by employers sponsoring an employee for U.S. permanent residence (a green card). Premium processing is available for:
- EB-1 extraordinary ability petitions
- EB-2 advanced degree petitions
- E-13 Multinational executive/manager petitions
USCIS aims to expand premium processing to all employment-based I-140s in the future.
Form I-539 Application to Change/Extend Nonimmigrant Status
The I-539 lets you apply to change to a new nonimmigrant status or extend your current status. Premium processing is offered for F-1 students seeking:
- Initial OPT (Optional Practical Training)
- STEM OPT extension
It will also be expanded to other I-539 change of status requests like H-4, L-2, J-2, etc.
Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization
The I-765 is used to apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). Premium processing is offered when filed with an I-539 OPT/STEM OPT request.
However, premium processing will be expanded to all types of I-765 EAD applications, including those filed with I-485 green card applications.
USCIS is steadily expanding premium processing availability to more immigration forms and case types. This will allow faster approval for more applicants and petitioners.
Check the USCIS website for the most updated list of forms eligible for premium processing.
How to Request Premium Processing
If you have filed or are planning to submit an eligible form, here are the steps to request premium processing:
- File Form I-907: This form is used to request premium processing service officially. It must be filed with the eligible underlying form (I-129, I-140, etc).
- Pay Fee: Include payment of the premium processing fee by check/money order or credit card.
- Online Filing (Some Forms): Form I-907 can be filed online for certain underlying forms through USCIS’s website.
- Paper Filing: For forms where the online filing of Form I-907 is not available, submit by mail with the paper application.
- Check Status: You can check the status of your premium processing request via USCIS’s Case Status Online tool.
- Inquire if Delayed: If you do not receive a decision within the guaranteed timeframe, you can contact USCIS to inquire about the case status.
It is important to note that premium processing can only be requested upon initial submission of the form. It cannot be requested for a case that is already pending. Requests for pending cases will be rejected.
Online Filing is Now Available for Some Forms
USCIS now allows online filing of Form I-907 for certain premium processing requests, such as:
- H-1B I-129 petitions
- E-13 I-140 multinational manager/executive petitions
- F-1 I-539 change of status requests
You must first create a USCIS online account and log in to file online. Then, you can complete Form I-907 through the account and pay the fee electronically.
Online filing can be faster and more convenient than mailing paper forms. USCIS aims to expand online I-907 filing availability to more form types over time.
Premium Processing Fees
The current Form I-907 fees are:
- $2,500 for H-1B, L-1A, L-1B, O-1, TN, P-1, and most other form types
- $1,750 for I-539 change of status applications
- $1,500 for EB-1 and certain EB-2 I-140 petitions
These fees are in addition to the normal filing fees for the underlying application or petition.
However, premium processing generally greatly boosts speed which helps applicants/petitioners tremendously. The extra fee is well worth it in most cases.
Reduced Processing Times with Premium Processing
By law, USCIS must adjudicate cases with premium processing within:
- 15 calendar days for most form types
- 30 calendar days for Form I-140
- 45 calendar days for Form I-539
This is significantly faster than the normal 5-12+ months of regular processing.
Once you submit Form I-907, USCIS will aim to give you an approval, denial, or request for evidence (RFE) within 15 calendar days.
If USCIS needs more time (e.g., for an interview), it may issue one extension of 15 calendar days or less. So, premium processing speeds up decision times on your case tremendously.
Who Is Eligible for Premium Processing?
USCIS has set eligibility criteria for premium processing requests:
- Your application or petition must be a form type currently designated for premium processing. Check the USCIS website for the latest list.
- You must have filed the underlying application/petition and a receipt number. Do not submit I-907 before filing the main form.
- The underlying form must have been pending for at least 15 calendar days. Do not request premium processing immediately upon filing.
- You must fill out Form I-907 fully and accurately. Any errors may delay processing.
- You can only make one premium processing request per application. Do not submit multiple I-907 forms.
- Your case must warrant faster resolution. Do not request premium processing without legitimate need.
Provided these requirements are met, USCIS will accept your Form I-907 request for premium processing.
5 Tips for Filing Form I-907
To avoid delays or rejection of your I-907 premium processing request, follow these important tips:
- Check if your form type is eligible – Only submit I-907 if your case meets the criteria.
- Wait 15 days after filing the underlying form before requesting premium processing.
- Pay the full fee – A missing or incorrect fee will prevent faster processing.
- File at the service center with jurisdiction over your case – Sending I-907 to the wrong USCIS center will delay it.
- Include a copy of Form G-28 if you have an attorney to prevent processing delays.
Carefully following all instructions and eligibility criteria when filing I-907 is key for rapid premium processing approval.
How It Affects Expedite Requests
You cannot request an expedite for a case already upgraded to premium processing.
However, if your I-907 is pending and you need urgent processing, you can submit:
- An expedited request citing severe financial loss or humanitarian factors
- Evidence to support your expedited request
- A copy of your pending I-907
USCIS will then review and decide if expedited handling is warranted despite the pending premium processing upgrade.
Work with a Trusted Immigration Law Firm
The various USCIS forms, categories, and premium processing protocols can be complex. If you need assistance with an immigration application, the immigration attorneys at the Law Office of Lina Baroudi in San Jose can help.
Their attorneys have years of experience filing immigration forms and leveraging options like premium processing on our client’s behalf. Their team can review your situation and determine the best options for achieving your immigration goals.