The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that US Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) will accept premium processing requests on a rolling basis for certain immigrant petitions (Form I-140) for multinational executives/managers and for members of professions with advanced degrees or exceptional ability seeking a national interest waiver. Immigrant petitions (Form I-140) are filed by employers sponsoring employees and individuals for US permanent residency (the US green card). This is the first implementation phase of the previously announced premium processing expansion.
Employers will be able to request premium processing (expedited adjudication based on a government filing fee) in a staggered approach for the newly-included categories, but note that this benefit applies only to cases filed on or before a specific date in 2021.
USCIS will have up to 45 days to adjudicate the above EB-1C and EB-2 categories that qualify for premium processing. This differs from the 15 days the agency currently commits to when adjudicating certain other premium processing requests for Form I-140 petitions based upon a test of the labor market.
As part of this implementation, the agency published a new version of the Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing. For the month of June 2022, DHS will accept both the current 09/30/20 and the new 05/31/22 edition of Form I-907. Starting July 1, 2022, only the new 05/31/2022 version will be accepted.
Plans to Continue Expanding Premium Processing
The final rule published by DHS focuses on providing relief to individuals waiting for work permits and setting agency-wide backlog reduction goals, including a further expansion in the future of additional premium processing services, including Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status; Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization; and additional classifications under Form I-140. The agency intends to hire and train new staff to expand the availability of premium processing. The premium processing fees and timeframes for the expanded categories are consistent with the fees and maximum processing timeframes set forth by Congress.
Employers should ensure they are filing premium processing during the designated period and using the correct edition of Form I-907 to avoid rejections or delays of premium processing requests.
The expansion of premium processing options to include these green card categories will be welcome news to employers and their executive and manager employees, but note that this expansion is limited in scope as it applies only to immigrant petitions filed in early or mid-2021 as noted above. As and when this expansion becomes broader in scope, Mayer Brown will keep you informed on the impact to employer organizations and their green card applicant pool.