Law Blog

Premium Processing – Business Visas

What is Premium Processing?

Premium processing is a expedited service offered by the USCIS for certain visa types.  There is an extra charge, which adjusts from time to time (currently $1,440).  The advantage of premium processing is that you will get a response to the application within 15 days.  Currently, the USCIS offers Premium Processing for the following Visa applications:

I-129 Petitions

  • H visas
  • L-1 visas
  • O visas
  • P visas
  • Q-1 visas
  • R-1 visas – only if the petitioner has passed an on-site inspection

I-140 Petitions

  • EB visas (all)

The 15-day deadline

The clock starts the day the USCIS receives your Form I-907, along with payment.  Usually, the I-907 is filed along with the rest of the petition package but, if you decide after filing the main package that you want premium processing, you can do that by electronically filing the I-907 by itself.

If you pay for Premium Processing but do not get a response within 15 days, the USCIS will refund the fee you paid for the Premium Processing (not the other filing fees, though).  And, the USCIS will continue to process the petition on an expedited basis.  So, you basically get expedited treatment for free.

Other considerations

While the idea of paying a little extra to speed up the visa process sounds fantastic, there are some caveats to keep in mind.  First, the USCIS does not promise you will get a decision within 15 days.  Technically, the examiner only has to make one of four responses:

  1. Approval Notice – this is ideal
  2. Request for Evidence – this is less than ideal but not a killer
  3. Notice of Intent to Deny – this is definitely not good but might be surmountable
  4. Commencing an investigation for fraud or misrepresentation – uh oh . . .

Also, be aware that, even if your petition is approved within 15 days, that does not mean you will immediately have your visa.  In most cases, you will still have to go through the US embassy/consulate in your home country for the interview and actual issuance of the visa.  So, that means you will be subject to the local embassy/consulate’s scheduling calendar.

The skeptics say . . .

One of the common criticisms is that Examiners simply issue Requests for Evidence (RFE) for each and every petition filed with Premium Processing.  What some of us immigration attorneys suspect is that it is unrealistic for Examiners to get through the very substantial documentation that goes along with these business visa petitions within 15 days.  The packages tend to be 200+ pages, and God only knows how many of these packages each Examiner has on his/her desk.  At the same time, the USCIS surely does not want to refund Premium Processing fees left and right.  So, what options do they have?

The Examiners just trump up some excuse for issuing an RFE — which is not hard to do — and they have the best of both worlds.  They get the extra time they need to properly review the package but without having to refund the Premium Processing fee.

Nobody knows for sure what really happens behind the curtain, but some of this speculation does stand to reason.  Now, if you want to try to speed up the process, I suppose there is no harm done by paying for Premium Processing.  All you have to lose is the extra fee.  So, if time is of the essence, you should certainly give it a try.

Make sure you get an attorney that will submit a very complete and accurate package along with the Premium Processing fee.  Also, make sure the package is organized as well as humanly possible in order to make things easier for the Examiner. 

If you do that, maybe the Examiner will not feel the need to issue an RFE and will simply approve the petition.

~ Jeff Harrington, Esq.

Harrington Legal Alliance