Published: March 20, 2012

Everyone wants things done yesterday. When it comes to processing of a green card, U.S. citizenship, work permit, work visa, student visa, or any other immigration benefit, the same holds true. And when people hear that a “Premium Processing” unit is in place at U.S. Department of Homeland Security/Citizenship and Immigration Services here in the U.S. to provide expedited service (as quick as 1-15 days) on immigration related filings for an additional fee, lots of folks want in.

Firstly, not all immigration filings can be submitted for Premium Processing. Most notably, for example, Premium Processing is not available for family based immigration filings, such as green card filings based on marriage or other family relationships.

However, for the vast majority of employment-based immigration filings, Premium Processing guarantees 15 calendar day processing, and if that time frame is not met, the employer will received a refund of the Premium Processing fee – which is at $1225.00 currently. If the fee is refunded, the case will continue to receive expedited processing.

What’s Guaranteed in 15 days – The petitioning party will receive one of the following within a 15 calendar day period of filing: an approval notice, a denial notice, a notice of intent to deny, a request for evidence or a notice advising of an investigation for fraud or misrepresentation. If additional evidence is requested, a new 15 calendar day period will begin once the response is received by CIS.

Premium Processing is available for practically all types of temporary work visa filings, except that religious worker petitions must have already been the subject of a previous on-site inspection (relating to a prior filing) to qualify. As to petitions to accord permanent status (I-140), the same is true – and like for temporary worker petitions, there are some exceptions, e.g. petitions based on “National Interest Waiver”, international executives and managers and a few others are not eligible for Premium Processing. Further, for workers seeking to “adjust” their status in the US and undergo all permanent residence processing in the US and without appearing at a US consular post abroad, only the I-140 (immigrant worker petition) stage of the process is eligible for Premium Processing. The I-485 (adjustment of status) application – the second stage – is not eligible for Premium Processing.

Additionally, the Premium Processing service only plays out with regard to CIS processing in the U.S., and it does not include the additional time it may take such as for the U.S. Department of State, through a U.S. embassy or consular post, to process a visa to allow a foreign worker abroad to ultimately gain entry into the U.S.

It should also be noted that under certain extraordinary and/or humanitarian circumstances, practically any type of immigration filing, whether family based or employment based, might be eligible for expedited processing and without paying a premium processing fee – as long as the extraordinary or humanitarian circumstances at play can be documented.

Copyright © 2012, By Law Offices of Richard Hanus, Chicago, Illinois