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What Is USCIS Premium Processing?

By June 24, 2022Immigration
premium processing

For those who are in need of an expedited decision on an employment-based application (such as a request to extend or change status), the premium processing service offered by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (or USCIS) can be a critical option. By requesting premium processing and paying the premium processing fee, the applicant is guaranteed a decision from USCIS in 15 calendar days – an amount of time that is far shorter than the months that USCIS usually requires to adjudicate the petition.

In this post we take a look at several frequently asked questions about premium processing, including how to apply for it and how much it costs, what USCIS actually guarantees, and what happens if they fail to provide a decision within the guaranteed timeframe.

Which applications are eligible for premium processing?

USCIS frequently changes the applications that are eligible for premium processing. An updated list of eligible petitions can be found here. As of the time of writing (June 2022), premium processing is available for the Form I-129 applications for E-1 traders, E-2 investors, E-3 specialty occupation professionals from Australia, H1B specialty occupation professionals, H-2B temporary workers, H-3 trainee or exchange visitors, L-1 intracompany transferees, O-1 applicants, P, Q-1 and R-1 applicants and TN professionals, as well as a variety of classifications on the Form I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers.

What do I get by requesting premium processing?

For applicants who request premium processing, USCIS guarantees that the petition will be “processed” within 15 calendar days. “Processed” typically means that the petition is either approved or denied, or that USCIS issues a request for additional evidence (RFE) or a notice of intent to deny (NOID).

If USCIS issues an RFE or NOID, USCIS will restart the 15-calendar-day period once it receives your response to the RFE or NOID.

How do I request premium processing?

An applicant requests premium processing by filing the USCIS Form I-907 Request for Premium Processing Service and paying the applicable filing fee. As of the date of writing, the filing fee for premium processing is $2,500 (a reduced fee of $1,500 is available for those filing a Form I-129 to request H-2B or R classification). It is important to note that, as of the time of writing, each filing fee must be paid to USCIS separately. This means that the premium processing fee must be paid to USCIS separately from the filing fee for the underlying petition, such as the Form I-129.

When does the 15-calendar-day clock start?

The 15-calendar-day period starts when USCIS receives the properly filed Form I-907. Make sure that you are using the current edition of the form, that you pay the filing fee, and that you closely follow all instructions. The current edition of the Form I-907 and instructions can be found here.

Can I request premium processing after submitting the initial application?

Yes, a petition can be “converted” to premium processing after being filed. This can be done by properly filing the Form I-907 (along with the filing fee) after the initial petition is filed.

What happens if I request premium processing but do not receive a decision from USCIS within 15 calendar days?

If USCIS fails to process the petition within 15 calendar days, it will refund the premium processing filing fee. The refund will typically be issued only once the petition is adjudicated.

If USCIS fails to process the application in 15 calendar days and refunds the premium processing filing fee, will USCIS still expedite my application?

Yes. USCIS will still expedite processing of the petition even if it fails to abide by the 15-calendar-day deadline.


I have a question or concern involving my premium processing request. How do I contact USCIS?

Many inquiries can be resolved by calling USCIS’s premium processing phone number at 1-800-315-5718.

 

Since USCIS has several facilities that process premium processing requests, it is useful to know where your premium processing request is being handled. You can determine this by looking at the receipt notice you received after filing the request. The assigned service center is usually noted at the bottom of the receipt notice. Alternatively, the receipt number printed at the top of the receipt notice will typically start with three letters that reflect the assigned service center: EAC represents the Vermont Service Center, WAC represents the California Service Center, SRC represents the Texas Service Center, and LIN represents the Nebraska Service Center.

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