When you file a petition or application with USCIS, you would likely want it to be processed as soon as possible. You might even be willing to pay extra to make that happen.
Premium processing is only available for certain immigration transactions. This particular article will be focused on two of them, the EB-1A extraordinary ability green card and the E-2 treaty investor nonimmigrant visa.
What is premium processing, and how much does it cost?
When a foreign national opts for premium processing of their immigration paperwork, a USCIS adjudicator is required to review and act on their petition or application within 15 calendar days. In fact, USCIS states on their website: “Specifically, we guarantee processing within 15 calendar days to those who choose to use this service, or we will refund the premium processing service fee and will continue with expedited processing.”
Premium processing is achieved by filling out Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing, and including it with the application package with other relevant forms and supporting evidence. It is available for some, but not all, submissions of the Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, or the Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers.
With the exception of those filers of the Form I-129 who are requesting H-2B or R-1 nonimmigrant status, as of October 19, 2020, all those asking for premium processing must pay $2,500 for that privilege. This amount has been raised from $1,440 to $2,500.
Current Premium Processing Issues for EB-1A and E-2
Both the EB-1A extraordinary ability green card and the E-2 treaty investor nonimmigrant visa require a foreign national to supply a great deal of evidence with the appropriate forms. This means that a USCIS adjudicator must work quickly to address the documents within 15 calendar days.
Acting on an EB-1A or E-2 within 15 days
With the USCIS service center backlog caused in part by factors relating to COVID-19 precautions in 2020 and 2021, officers are hard-pressed to handle premium processing requests on voluminous EB-1A and E-2 immigration packages. But they must act within 15 calendar days.
One way that USCIS adjudicators can act on a premium processing request within the 15-day parameters is to issue a Request for Evidence (RFE) or a Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID). When this happens, and it occurs a lot, a foreign national may feel that they have wasted the extra $2,500 filing fee.
Responding to an RFE or NOID
When working with an immigration lawyer, a foreign national may need to pay extra for the extra attorney time spent on responding to the RFE or NOID. Additionally, diligent or busy counsel may not be able to submit additional documents to USCIS for a month or more.
Essentially, these days paying for premium processing may not be worth the extra fees. However, sometimes an RFE or NOID can work to the advantage of the applicant, in that the USCIS letter indicates exactly what evidence is lacking. If one pays the extra $2,500 for premium processing, the almost guaranteed RFE or NOID letter may provide a “cheat sheet” that clues the applicant and their attorney on how to get their particular case approved.
Talk to an Immigration Attorney about Premium Processing
If you are not sure about whether premium processing is the right choice for your EB-1A extraordinary ability green card petition or your E-2 treaty investor nonimmigrant visa, have a conversation with an immigration lawyer near you.
At Gallagher Domanski, we do not charge clients for responses to an RFE or NOID, so you can use this information on weighing your options about filing an I-907, Request for Premium Processing.