Department of Homeland Security
Premium Processing Expansion for Applicants Seeking Status Change
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) is now accepting premium processing requests for Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status applicants who are seeking to change into F (academic students), M (vocational student), or J (exchange visitors) status. Dependent children and/or spouses of these applicants who seek to change into F-2, M-2, or J-2 status may also request premium processing. USCIS will adjudicate these change of status requests within 30 calendar days after receipt of all required prerequisites (which includes biometrics), and the Form I-907 fee for these new categories is $1,750. We will continue monitoring the expansion and implementation of premium processing services and provide updates as developments occur.
USCIS Launches New System for Rescheduling of Biometrics Appointments
As part of USCIS’s attempt to streamline the immigration system and implement more efficient processes/procedures, a new biometrics rescheduling tool has been launched. The self-service tool (which can be accessed through a myUSCIS online account) now allows requestors and their attorneys and accredited representatives to reschedule their biometric services appointment at least 12 hours before their scheduled appointment. Please note that the tool cannot be used to reschedule appointments that have already been rescheduled two or more times, however, USCIS may accept untimely requests to reschedule for “good cause” (e.g., illness and medical appointments/hospitalizations, previously-planned travel, significant life events including weddings, funerals, or graduations, etc.). The new tool is a welcome and efficient change compared to the methods previously accepted by USCIS to reschedule biometrics appointments, which includes phone calls directly to the USCIS Contact Center (introduced in May 2021 and can still be utilized) and requests in writing (required prior to May 2021). Contact immigration counsel for assistance with USCIS’s new self-service tool.
Department of State
Stateside Visa Processing to be Implemented for U.S. Foreign Workers
Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of State (“DOS”) announced the upcoming implementation of a pilot program that would allow H and L visa holders to renew their visas in the U.S. rather than traveling to a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad for visa renewal. This process, known as “stateside processing,” may be implemented for certain foreign workers from India (who make up approximately 73% of all H-1B petitions approved in fiscal year 2022) before the year’s end. Often, Indian nationals in H-1B status must time their return to their home country with visa renewal appointment availability (which can take months to schedule), resulting in added costs and potential delays if issues arise. While the DOS has not yet announced a start date, it appears that stateside processing will soon be implemented in an attempt to reduce processing backlogs at U.S. consulates abroad and improve visa access for many individuals. Continue to monitor Immigration Insights for the latest updates on USCIS’s implementation of new actions to reduce backlogs to the U.S. immigration system.
DID YOU KNOW?
The Munsch Hardt Immigration Team recently assisted a prominent surgeon obtain an O-1 “extraordinary ability” visa to lead innovative research and perform state-of-the-art surgeries for one of the leading healthcare organizations in the United States.