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USCIS to Change Premium Processing Timeline Effective Oct. 2

On July 31, 2020, USCIS announced a final rule adjusting many of the fees for immigration and naturalization benefit requests. In addition to the fee adjustments, the final rule also changed the premium processing timeline. 

What is Premium Processing?

The premium processing service provides guaranteed expedited processing of Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, and Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, for an additional fee of $1,440. 

Traditionally, using the premium processing service guaranteed adjudicative action on the petition within 15 calendar days of receipt of Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service. Petitioners would receive notification of an approval, denial, request for evidence (RFE), or notice of intent to deny (NOID) within 15 calendar days or be refunded the premium processing fee.

New Premium Processing Timeline

Effective October 2, 2020, premium processing will guarantee adjudication of a matter within 15 business days instead of 15 calendar days. The change means applicants and employers may have to wait up to four days longer to receive decisions on their cases. 

Reasons for the Change

According to USCIS, both the agency and petitioners will benefit from the amended premium processing timeline. USCIS provided the following reasoning for the change:

  • There have been instances where USCIS has been unable to adjudicate all the petitions that were filed with premium processing, which forced it to refund premium processing fees and temporarily suspend the premium processing service. The change gives USCIS additional time to process a petition before it must issue a refund to the petitioner for not meeting the guaranteed deadline. 
  • The 15-calendar day timeline failed to consider days that USCIS staff were not able to adjudicate cases, including federal holidays or weather-related closures, which often left USCIS with many petitions to adjudicate in under 15 days. 
  • Extending the premium processing time will provide USCIS with adequate time to adjudicate cases and provide a more consistent and predictable experience for petitioners. The change should also allow USCIS to adjudicate more premium processing cases each year, because it should not have to suspend the service. 

The change applies only to premium processing requests filed on or after October 2, 2020, and the cost of premium processing ($1,440) was not increased by the final rule. 

If you have questions about how the updated premium processing timeline may affect your petition, be sure to contact Berardi Immigration Law to speak with one of our knowledgeable attorneys.