USCIS announced on May 29, 2020 that it will resume premium processing for Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Workers and Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers, in stages during the month of June. Premium Processing Service has been suspended since March 20, 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19).

Premium processing provides expedited processing for certain nonimmigrant categories filed via Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, and immigrant categories filed via Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker. By filing Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service, and paying an additional filing fee of $1,440, USCIS guarantees processing within 15 calendar days or it will refund the premium processing service fee and will continue with expedited processing.  The initial response within 15 days is normally approval or a request for additional evidence.

USCIS will resume its premium processing service in the following stages:

The first stage will begin on June 1 by allowing eligible new I-140 petitions to be filed via premium processing and eligible pending I-140 petitions to be upgraded to premium processing.

The second stage will begin on June 8 by allowing pending H-1B cap-exempt petitions, including transfers, extensions, amendments, and non-profit employers to be upgraded. Additionally, all other I-129 non-H-1B petitions (L-1, TN, O-1, etc.) filed before June 8 that are pending, can be upgraded.

The third stage will start on June 15 by resuming premium processing for H-1B petitions requesting premium processing by filing an I-907 concurrently with their I-129 (or requesting upgrade to premium processing for a petition filed on or after June 8) and are exempt from the cap because:

  • The employer is cap-exempt or because the beneficiary will be employed at a qualifying cap-exempt institution, entity or organization (such as an institution of higher education, a nonprofit research organization or a governmental research organization); or
  • The beneficiary is cap-exempt based on a Conrad/IGA waiver under INA section 214(l).

The final stage will start on June 22 by resuming premium processing for all other I-129 petitions, including:

  • All cap-subject H-1B petitions (including those for the fiscal year 2021) that are pending can be upgraded and those that have not yet been filed can be concurrently filed via premium processing.
  • All other I-129 petitions for nonimmigrant classifications will be eligible for premium processing.

Squire Patton Boggs will continue to monitor and provide updates regarding the Premium Processing implementation as USCIS stated that some of the foregoing dates are tentative and thus subject to change.