Expedited, Premium Processing Further Expanded
September 15, 2006

In the past few months, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (CIS) has extended “premium,” expedited processing to a variety of new immigration filings, including the I-140, Immigrant Worker Petition for 2 categories of “EB-3” workers, skilled workers and professionals. Employers seeking to facilitate permanent residence/immigrant visa processing for its employees in these categories can have an I-140 petition decided within 15 calendar days of receipt by submitting an additional $1,000.00 filing fee (on top of the standard $195.00 fee). Just 10 days ago, this program has been further expanded to include Employment Based First Preference (EB-1) for outstanding professors, Second Preference (EB-2) for members of professions with advanced degrees or exceptional ability not seeking a national interest waiver, and Third Preference (EB-3) unskilled workers (a.k.a “other workers”).

Practically speaking, premium processing will only be beneficial to employers and employees qualifying for the above EB-1 or EB-2 classifications (excluding EB-2 workers from China and India) and EB-3 physical therapists and registered nurses since there is immediate visa availability in these employment based categories and no significant, additional delays for final permanent residence/immigrant visa processing is involved. I-140 petitions in other employment based categories will indeed face additional waiting following CIS’ completion of processing since there is a several year wait for visa availability. Thus hurrying up the I-140 petition process may not make much sense for those in employment based categories where there is no immediate visa availability.

Additionally, employers and their workers with the above types of I-140 petitions now pending for conventional processing are eligible to request that their cases be upgraded to premium processing by forwarding the additional $1,000.00 filing fee to the CIS service center in question.

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