U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced it will be bringing back expedited processing (i.e., Premium Processing) option for the Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker-based filings and Form I-140, Immigrant Petition.  Importantly, the return of Premium Processing will be gradual and proceed in phases over the month of June.  Effective June 1, 2020, USCIS is starting to accept Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service for all eligible Form I-140 Immigrant Petitions.

As of June 8th, USCIS will start accepting expedited processing requests for H-1B petitions filed prior to June 8th that are pending adjudication and are not subject to the H-1B cap.  This would include petitions filed by cap-exempt petitioners and petitions for beneficiaries already counted under the cap (e.g., petitions to extend H-1B stay).  Additionally, as of June 8th, USCIS should start accepting Premium Processing service requests for all other petitions filed on Form I-129 (e.g., L, TN, O-1 and other proceedings) filed before June 8th and pending adjudication.

Effective June 15, USCIS should be resuming premium processing for H-1B petitions with Form I-907 Premium Processing Service request filed concurrently with the Form I-129H submission or added on or after June 8th.  During this phase, expedited processing would be available only for the proceedings exempt from the H-1B cap because the petitioning employer is cap-exempt or because the beneficiary will be employed at a qualifying cap-exempt institution, entity; or the beneficiary is cap-exempt based on a Conrad/IGA waiver under INA section 214(l).

On June 22, USCIS plans on resuming premium processing for all other Form I-129 petitions that used to be eligible for Premium Processing service prior to the March 20, 2020 temporary suspension of premium processing for all Form I-129 and Form I-140 Petitions due to COVID-19 pandemic.

While the return of Premium Processing Service is good news, petitioners and beneficiaries should carefully consider their options and filing strategies in view of this development.  Specifically, Premium Processing service requests for pending petition proceedings should be approached with caution and pursued only upon careful consideration and immigration counsel’s advice.