USCIS to Expand Premium Processing Service / Premium Processing Information

Via USCIS
09/22/2006

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today the addition of three new categories to the Premium Processing Service, which allows U.S. businesses to pay a $1,000 Premium Processing fee in exchange for 15-calendar-day processing of their case.

Starting on September 25, 2006, USCIS will begin accepting Premium Processing requests for
Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, involving the following immigrant visa categories:

• EB-1, outstanding professors and researchers,
• EB-2, members of professions with advanced degrees or exceptional ability not seeking a National Interest Waiver, and
• EB-3, workers other than skilled workers and professionals (i.e., unskilled labor requiring less than two years of training or experience.

Under the Premium Processing Service, USCIS guarantees petitioners that, for a $1,000 processing fee, it will issue either an approval notice, or where appropriate, a notice of intent to deny, a request for evidence or open an investigation for fraud or misrepresentation, within 15 calendar days of receipt. If the petition is not processed within 15 calendar days, USCIS will refund the $1,000 fee and continue to process the request as part of the Premium Processing Service. In addition to faster processing, petitioners who participate in the program may use a dedicated phone number and e-mail address to check on the status of their petition or ask any other questions they may have concerning their petition. Premium Processing Service continues to be available for previously designated classifications within Form I-140 and Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker.

Since 2001, Premium Processing Service has been available for several classifications within Form I-129, including E Treaty Traders and Investors, H-1B Specialty Occupation Workers, H-2B Temporary Workers performing non-agricultural services, H-3 Trainees, L Intracompany Transferees, O Aliens of Extraordinary Ability and those performing essential support services, P Performers and Athletes and those performing essential support services, and Q international Cultural Exchange Visitors, R Religious Workers and NAFTA Professionals from Canada and Mexico. Form I-129 petitions for those nonimmigrant worker classifications will continue to be eligible for Premium Processing Service unless the filing period has closed (for example, when the annual cap for a specific visa has been reached.)

Also, since August 28, USCIS began accepting Premium Processing Service requests for petitions involving two other immigrant visa categories, the EB-3 Professionals, (i.e. immigrant workers with bachelor degrees who are members of the professions), and EB-3 Skilled Workers, (i.e. immigrant workers capable of performing skilled labor requiring at least two years of education, training or experience). Employers file for both of these immigrant visa categories using the Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker (Form I-140) as well.

——————————-


Premium Processing Service provides faster processing of certain
employment-based petitions and applications. Specifically, USCIS
provides 15 calendar day processing to those who choose to use this
service or USCIS will refund the Premium Processing fee and the
relating case will continue to receive faster processing.

The processing period that is used to determine whether or not USCIS
meets the 15 calendar day period will begin when the current version of
Form
I-907
is received by USCIS at the correct filing address noted on the form.
Within the 15 day calendar period USCIS will issue an approval notice,
or where appropriate, a notice of intent to deny, a request for
evidence or open an investigation for fraud or misrepresentation. If
the notice requires the submission of additional evidence or of a
response to intent to deny, a new 15 calendar day period will begin
upon the delivery to USCIS of a complete response to the request for
evidence or notice of intent to deny.

Who is eligible?

The chart below sets forth the forms, designated classifications
within each form type, and current availability and termination dates
for premium processing service.

Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker

Designated Classification Within Form I-129

Corresponding Nonimmigrant Visa Classification

* Availability Date

** Termination Date

Treaty Trader

E-1

June 1, 2001

 

Treaty Investor

E-2

June 1, 2001

 

Alien in Specialty Occupation

H-1B CAP

July 30, 2001

May 26, 2006 (FY 07)

August 10, 2005 (FY 06)

Alien in Specialty Occupation, Advanced Degree Exception (Masters or Higher)

H-1B CAP

July 30, 2001

July 26, 2006 (FY 07)

January 17, 2006 (FY 06)

Alien in Specialty Occupation

H-1B NON-CAP

July 30, 2001

 

Temporary Worker performing nonagricultural services

H-2B CAP

June 1, 2001

December 15 2005 (1 st half)

April 4, 2006 (2 nd half)

April 4, 2006 (annual FY 06)

Temporary Worker performing nonagricultural services

H-2B NON CAP

June 1, 2001

 

Trainee

H-3

June 1, 2001

 

Intracompany Transferee, Executive or Manager Capacity

L-1A

June 1, 2001

 

Intracompany Transferee, Specialized Knowledge Professional

L-1B

June 1, 2001

 

Petitioners
that meet requirements may file a blanket petition seeking continuing
approval of itself and some or all of its parent, branches,
subsidiaries, and affiliates as qualifying organizations
L-BLANKET
June 1, 2001
 
Aliens of extraordinary ability or achievements in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics
O-1
June 1, 2001
 
Aliens providing essential support services for a principal O-1 alien
O-2
June 1, 2001
 
Internationally recognized athlete or member of an internationally recognized entertainment group
P-1
June 1, 2001
 
Essential
Support Alien, highly skilled, that performs support services which are
essential to the successful performance of the principal P-1 alien
P-1S
June 1, 2001
 
Artist or Entertainer under a Reciprocal Exchange Program
P-2
June 1, 2001
 
Essential
Support Alien, highly skilled, that performs support services which are
essential to the successful performance of the principal P-2 alien
P-2S
June 1, 2001
 
Artist or Entertainer in a Culturally Unique Program
P-3
June 1, 2001
 
Essential
Support Alien, highly skilled, that performs support services which are
essential to the successful performance of the principal P-3 alien
P-3S
June 1, 2001
 
International cultural exchange aliens
Q-1
June 1, 2001
 
Alien in a Religious occupation
R-1
July 30, 2001
 
NAFTA professional, Canada
TN1-CANADA
July 30, 2001
 
NAFTA professional, Mexico
TN2-MEXICO
July 30, 2001
 

 
* The availability date is the date that the classification was initially deemed eligible for Premium Processing Service.

** The termination date reflects
the last day that USCIS accepted filings requesting that specific
classification. If a date is entered in this column, that
classification is currently ineligible for filing because of cap
restrictions or other processing restrictions.

For additional information relating to the current cap count for Non-Immigrant Worker Visas, refer to: http://www.uscis.gov/graphics/services/tempbenefits/cap.htm

Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker

Designated Classification Within Form I-140

Corresponding Employment-Based Visa Classification

 

Availability Date

Termination Date

Aliens of extraordinary ability

 

EB-1

Not Yet Available

 

Outstanding professors and researchers

 

EB-1

September 25, 2006

 

Multinational executives and managers

 

EB-1

Not Yet Available

 

Members of professions with advanced degrees or exceptional ability not seeking a National Interest Waiver

 

EB-2

September 25, 2006

 

Skilled workers***

 

EB-3

August 28, 2006

 

Professionals***

 

EB-3

August 28, 2006

 

Workers other than skilled workers and professionals

 

EB-3

September 25, 2006

 

  *** (if designated as available, please also see section on additional conditions placed on Premium Processing Availability)


May the beneficiary of a visa petition seek Premium Processing Service?

No, except
in cases where the petition is eligible to be filed as a self-petition
(i.e., the petitioner and the beneficiary are the same). Otherwise,
only the visa petitioner, or the attorney or representative who has
filed a notice of appearance (Form G-28)
on behalf of the visa petitioner, may request Premium Processing
Service for designated visa petition adjudications. The petitioner,
attorney or representative, or beneficiary may pay the $1,000 Premium
Processing fee, but the beneficiary cannot sign or file the Form I-907.

How do I verify that I am using the current version of the form?

Check the
USCIS website at the Forms and Fees webpage for the most up-to-date
information as well as the most current version of Form I-907 which is
available for download at http://www.uscis.gov/graphics/formsfee/forms/i-907.htm.

If you are already in possession of a Form I-907, please use this
webpage, Forms and Fees, to verify that your version of Form I-907 is
still current. This can be done by comparing the Forms and Fees webpage
which includes the “edition” date that USCIS is currently accepting and
the edition date on your Form I-907. The edition date, which is
referenced as (Rev. xx/xx/xx) is located in the lower right corner on
every page of the form and instructions. If the edition date on your
Form I-907 matches the date or dates, if applicable, on the Forms and
Fees webpage, your version of Form I-907 is current and will be
accepted by USCIS. If there is a designation “N” shown after the
edition date on the Forms and Fees webpage, please note that USCIS will
not accept any other editions of the form.

How do I file a request for Premium Processing Service?

You must
complete and sign Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service,
in accordance with the instructions on the current version of the form.
You must file the concurrently filed Form I-907 with Form I-129 or Form
I-140 at the Service Center designated as the appropriate filing
location on the instructions to the Form I-907. If you filed Form I-129
or the Form I-140 and you now wish to request Premium Processing
Service, file Form I-907 with the Service Center where the Form I-129
or Form I-140 is currently pending. Submit a copy of the Form I-129 or
Form I-140 filing receipt. If you received a transfer notice, it is very important
that you include a copy of it and that you submit your filing to the
transfer location. If a petitioner or applicant erroneously filed a
concurrent or standalone Form I-907 at the wrong service center, USCIS
will not reject the filing, but instead will forward the filing to the
correct service center having jurisdiction over the petition or
application. For an incorrectly filed Form I-907, the 15 calendar day
period will start on the date the file is received at the correct
service center as indicated in the Form I-907 filing instructions.

Are there any additional conditions of availability being placed on the Premium Processing Service at this time?

Yes. This
will accord USCIS the flexibility to adapt to contingencies affecting
its ability to provide Premium Processing Service. Premium Processing
Service is available for the Form I-140 classifications indicated on
the chart above provided that the case does not involve:

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

USCIS is
prescribing these additional conditions of availability on Premium
Processing for Form I-140 because of their special processing
requirements, including locating and transferring other files or
documents internally and requesting initial evidence from an outside
agency, that make it difficult for USCIS to guarantee that it will
process the case within a 15 calendar day period.

What is the fee for this service?

The fee for this service is $1,000. The Premium Processing Service fee
may not be waived. In addition to the Premium Processing Service fee,
all other filing fees relating to the specific form(s) for which you
are requesting Premium Processing Service must also be submitted. The
Premium Processing Service fee must be submitted in a separate
check or money order. The petitioner, attorney or representative, or
beneficiary may pay the $1,000 Premium Processing Service fee, but the
beneficiary cannot sign or file the Form I-907. If e-filed, USCIS
accepts credit card, debit card, or electronic transfer of funds from a
checking or savings account from a U.S. bank.

Are there any additional benefits to the program?

Yes. USCIS has provided not only a unique mailing address for its
Premium Processing Service customers, but it has also established a
special phone number and e-mail address for each of the Service
Centers. These special communication channels will be available only to
Premium Processing Service customers.

USCIS is also collecting, on the Form I-907, your phone number, fax
number and e-mail address so that we can send you (the petitioner or
attorney) an automatic e-mail notifying you of the receipt of your Form
I-907, Request For Premium Processing Service. If the underlying form
for which you requested Premium Processing Service is approved, we will
send an automatic e-mail notifying you of the approval. It is important that you provide this information so that USCIS may correspond with you in the most appropriate manner.

In addition and at no additional cost, USCIS will strive to provide
faster processing of Form I-539 applications filed by or on behalf of
dependents of the principal beneficiary of a petition for which Premium
Processing Service has been requested if the Form I-539 is filed at the same time. USCIS provides this service as a courtesy. Consequently, it cannot guarantee faster processing of the Form I-539.

Does this program have any effect on the USCIS’ previous expedite practices?

Yes. The discretionary expedite requests will no longer be available
for those classifications designated as eligible for Premium Processing
Service; however, petitioners designated as not-for-profit entities by
the Internal Revenue Service may continue requesting discretionary
expedited service as they have in the past or they may choose to pay
the Premium Processing fee and utilize that service. If the criteria
for a discretionary expedite are not met, the not-for-profit petitioner
still has the option of requesting of Premium Processing upgrade by
filing Form I-907 with fee.

How will the USCIS manage those categories that have an annual limit in relation to this faster processing?

USCIS
does not believe that individuals who pay for Premium Processing
Service on petitions filed for nonimmigrant classifications that are
subject to annual limitations will have an unfair access to these
limited immigration programs.

For cap-subject H-1B and H-2B petitions, USCIS will apply a random
selection process to all petitions (whether or not Premium Processing
Service is requested) received on the date when a sufficient number of
petitions have been received to reach the applicable numerical limit
(“final receipt date”). Petitions that are accepted through this random
selection process are adjudicated to completion. For H-1B cases, USCIS
will return the fees to the petitioner and hold the cases that were filed ON the cut-off day
but were not selected in the random process. This way, if USCIS does
not use all of the projected H-1B1 Singapore/Chile cap cases (which
count towards the H-1B cap), additional H-1B cap cases will be taken in
order from the list of cases that were held. Those petitioners will
then be notified to re-submit the fees. All H-1B cap cases filed AFTER the cut-off day are rejected along with the fees.

Cases subject to the H-2B cap that were not selected in the random process, and H-2B cases that were filed AFTER the cut-off day
are rejected along with the fees. Unlike the H-1B cap cases, there is
no need to hold the H-2B cap cases that were not selected because there
are no special provisions that apply to the H-2B cap cases like there
are with the H-1B cap cases, i.e. H-1B1 Singapore/Chile cap cases.

In order to ensure equitable access to other cap-subject nonimmigrant
classifications to which USCIS does not currently apply a random
selection process, USCIS will temporarily terminate the availability of
Premium Processing when it becomes clear that the demand will exceed
the annual numerical limitation (e.g., when the USCIS has a pending
volume of petitions sufficient to reach the limitation). This
termination of procedure will ensure that all petitioners have
equitable access to these limited immigration programs.

Can
I contact a USCIS Service Center if I have not filed a request for
Premium Processing Service yet but have questions about the program?

No, you
cannot contact the Service Centers directly unless you have already
filed Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service, for the
underlying Form I-129 or Form I-140. The Premium Processing toll-free
phone number and e-mail addresses listed on Form I-907 are dedicated
only to customers who have already submitted a request for Premium
Processing Service. If you have not requested Premium Processing
Service, you can call the Customer Service toll free phone number at
(800) 375-5283 for general information about the program.

How do I contact the Service Center concerning the Premium Processing request that I filed?

The
unique mailing address for each of the Service Centers is listed on the
instructions to the Form I-907. Additional contact information for each
Service Center will be provided to you on your receipt notice and will
also be provided on this Website.

If you have already filed a Request for Premium Processing Service
and you need to contact the Service Center, call the Premium Processing
Toll Free phone number at 1-866-315-5718. You will need to have your
receipt number when you call, because this phone number is only for
inquiries relating to Premium Processing Service.

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