Many legal and eligible dependents on H4 EAD have endured unemployment, loss of pay and frustration due to the unending wait for their H4 EAD visas to come through. Processing delays, both for new petitioners as well as those seeking a renewal have waited for over 12 months to receive their approved employment authorization documents. To remedy the situation, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is rolling out the premium processing option for these applicants. Once finalized, H4 EAD applicants will have the option to expedite their EAD process and receive an adjudication within 15 business days.
Which Visa Categories Will Have Premium Processing?
According to the Continuing Appropriations Act, 2021 (CAA), the additional fees collected for premium processing can be used towards the following categories:
- Form I-765, which is used to apply for employment authorization documents (EADs)
- Form I-539 applications, which is used to apply for a change or extension of status for B1, B2 visitor visa holders, F1 student visa holders and dependents including H4, L2 and F2 students.
- All employment-based non-immigrant petitions
- All I-140 employment based green card petitions, including for the EB-1(c) category and for EB-2 national interest waivers (NIWs)
Premium Processing Fees & Timelines
Once DHS announces the dates for the premium processing to go live, the following parameters will be implemented regarding premium processing fees and processing timelines:
- The premium processing fee for all I-765 applications will be under $1,750. Once approved, the EAD will be processed in under 30 days.
- The premium processing fee for most I-539 applications pertaining to B1/B2 visitor visa extensions should not exceed $1,750. Once approved, the B2 visitor visa extension should be processed in under 30 days. Currently, B2 visitor visa extensions are severely delayed.
- The premium processing fee for I-140 petitions filed for EB-1 and EB-2 NIW employment based green card applications will be $2,500, and the processing timelines will be within 45 days.
When Can You Start Premium Processing For H4 EAD Approvals?
While DHS intends to announce the premium processing option this month, September 2021, they have not released a definite date. Moreover, once USCIS issues the regulation, it will still take a few weeks before the changes go into effect.
In the meantime, here are some ways you can expedite your H4 EAD application without using premium processing.