The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service (USCIS) has announced many optimization measures in recent months to speed up internal processes for processing applications
Learn here which categories or procedures are affected and which requirements have to be considered.
The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service (USCIS) is responsible, among other things, for processing certain work authorization procedures, such as L or H-1B petitions and applications for extension of status or change of status. Repeated criticism has focused on the long processing times and outdated application processes. In addition, the Corona pandemic fueled resource shortages.
For months now, USCIS has been working on a major modernization program to make internal processes more efficient, from individual workflows to expanded payment options and the expansion of online application processes. By 2023, existing backlogs are to be reduced, processing times shortened, technologies improved, and capacity increased through more staff in order to bring about an improvement in the situation for applicants as quickly as possible. The Emergency Stopgap USCIS Stabilization Act was already launched in this regard in 2020.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) now announced an official set of measures through which the "Emergency Stopgap USCIS Stabilization Act" passed on March 30, 2022, can be implemented.
Central to this: the expansion of expedited "Premium Processing" to additional U.S. immigration application processes and the establishment of associated fees and processing timelines.
The expedited "Premium Processing" process is currently only available to petitioners who file an I-129 (Employment Authorization, e.g., H-1B, L, O) or I-140 (Employment Based Green Card) petition with USCIS.
The Premium Processing procedure allows the petitioner to bypass the regular processing times, which can take months, and promises processing of the petition by USCIS within 15 calendar days at present (provided there are no queries) upon payment of an additional fee.
An extension is planned for the following forms/procedures:
I-539 to renew or change nonimmigrant status,
I-765 to obtain a general employment authorization document (EAD); and
I-140 to apply for an employment-based green card (EB categories).
Implementation or expansion will be phased in beginning in 2022 over the next three years and is expected to be completed by Fiscal Year 2025 (i.e., no later than October 2026). As a requirement of Congress to USCIS, the processing of Premium Processing applications must not, under any circumstances, cause time delays in the processing of regular applications.
So, unfortunately, some applicants will have to be patient until they can enjoy faster processing.
The phased implementation of the Premium Processing expansion will start with the I-140 Green Card application procedures for EB-1C (Multinational Executives/Managers) as well as EB-2 National Interest Waiver (NIW).
Also, change of status proceedings (I-539) to certain categories (F, J, M) in the U.S. as well as EAD application proceedings for F-1 OPT students and J-1 visa holders are already scheduled to receive the Premium Processing option by September 2022 at the latest.
Below you will find a list of the procedures for which Premium Processing will be introduced and the fees to be charged:
|Processing timeframe||Expected implementation timeline|
(Employment Based Green Card)
|EB-1A, EB-1B, EB-2, EB-3||$2,500||15 calender days||current|
I-140(Employment Based Green Card)
|EB-1C, EB-2 (NIW)||$2,500||45 calender days||FY 2022 latest September 30, 2022)|
|E, H, L, O, P, Q||$2,500||15 calender days||current|
|H-2B, R||$1,500||15 calender days||current|
I-539(Change of Status)
|Change of Status to F, J or M||$1,750||30 calender days||FY 2022 latest September 30, 2022)|
I-539(Change/Extension of Status)
|Change/Extension of Status for E, H, L, O, P, and R dependents||$1,750||30 calender days||FY 2022 latest September, 30 2022)|
(Employment Authorization Document)
|EAD for F-1 OPT and J||$1,500||30 calender days||FY 2022 latest September 30, 2022)|
(Employment Authorization Document)
|EAD for not yet specified additional group (e.g. L-2, E Spouses etc.)||$1,500||30 calender days||FY 2025 latest September 30, 2025)|
* The "processing period" refers to the deadline by which USCIS must issue either an approval notice, a Request for Evidence (RFE), a Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID), or a denial notice.
Updated on 3.5.2022