What is the Premium Processing Service?
As the name suggests, the Premium Processing Service allows a faster processing time after the H1 visa petition is received. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS, formerly the INS) guarantee that it will process the visa petition within 15 days under this service. There is a $1,000 fee that your employer must pay to the USCIS for this service. Also, a separate phone number and e-mail address is provided for companies using the expedited processing to check on the status or ask questions.
Who can apply for H1B Premium Processing and how?
Only your employer or business can apply for this service. As an individual you cannot apply for the service.
Your employer must complete Form I-907 (Request for Premium Processing) and pay the premium processing fee of $1,250. The fee should be paid by a separate check and under no circumstances be combined with the regular processing fee.
Dependent family members filing concurrently with the primary applicant for this service do not have to pay any additional fee. This means that if your spouse/children are on the dependent visa and you are filing a petition with the premium processing service, your employer does not have to pay $1250 for them.
Where can my employer file for H1B Premium Processing?
The Form I-907 provides addresses of Service Centers. Your petition for premium processing should be filed at the appropriate Service Center. The 15-day processing period begins when the USCIS identifies your request for premium processing.
Will the USCIS waive the $1,250 fee under special circumstances?
No, the $1,250 fee is fixed and cannot be waived for any reason. However, if the USCIS is unable to complete the processing within 15 days, the entire fee will be refunded.
Which petition and applications are part of this service?
Only Non-Immigrant Worker petitions can be processed through the premium service. The following types of petitions and applications are part of this service:
- E1 Treaty Trader
- E2 Treaty Investor
- H1B Temporary Workers in Specialty Occupations
- H2A Agricultural Worker
- H2B Temporary Worker
- H3 Trainee
- L1 Intra-company Transferees
- O1 and O-2 Aliens of Extraordinary Ability or Achievement
- P1, P2 and P3 Athletes and Entertainers
- Q1 International Cultural Exchange Aliens
- R1 Temporary Workers in Religious Occupations
- TN NAFTA Professionals
This year (2009) the USCIS has made a few exceptions and is accepting premium processing service for Forms I-140 as well. According to a recent press release on USCIS
- the USCIS is accepting the Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service, for Forms I-140 filed on behalf of alien beneficiaries who, as of the date of filing the Form I-907.
- Are the beneficiary of a form I-140 petition filed in a preference category that has been designated for premium processing service.
- Have reached the 6th year statutory limitation of their H1B stay, or will reach the end of their 6th year of H1B stay within 60 days of filing.
- They are only eligible for a further H1B extension upon approval of their Form I-140 petition as prescribed by American Competitiveness in the Twenty-first Century Act (AC21) provisions 104(c) .
- Are ineligible to extend their H1B status under AC21 & 106(a).
Under what circumstances can the USCIS do faster processing besides the premium service?
The USCIS allows for expedited processing under the following circumstances:
- Severe financial loss to a company or individual
- Extreme emergency
- Humanitarian situation
- Department of Defense or national interest situation
- USCIS error
What documents should I send while filing for the premium processing service for my Form I-140?
If for some reason you are found to be ineligible for the premium processing, your fee will be refunded by USCIS. To determine your eligibility for this service, it is better that you provide a file with the following documents:
- Provide copies of all Forms I-94
- Provide copies of Arrival/Departure Record and I-797
- Provide copies of H1B or L approval notices that have been issued to the petitioner or the petitioner's employees.
- Provide a copy of the I-140 petition receipt notice if the form was previously filed.
- Provide a copy of the labor certification approval letter. This letter is issued by the Department of Labor when you file under the EB-2 or EB-3 categories.