Jun 11, 2001 Immigration Law

INS Launches Premium Processing Service For Work Visa Applications

On June 1, 2001, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (“INS”) launched a new premium processing service for employment-based visas through which, for a $1,000 fee, INS guarantees that applications will be processed within 15 calendar days. INS has created a new form, I-907, that will be required for any applicant who desires to use the new service. Employers that have visa applications already pending at INS may use the premium processing service by sending an additional $1,000 to the agency along with an accompanying premium processing form.

The processing service is immediately available for applicants in nine visa classifications, including the H-2A category for seasonal agriculture workers and the H-2B category for temporary workers in low-skilled, nonagricultural jobs. The service is also available for foreign intracompany transferees, athletes, and entertainers. Applicants for H-1B visas–designated for highly skilled foreign workers–may utilize the new processing service beginning July 30, 2001. The service will eventually be available for all categories of employment-based visas and green cards. The $1,000 fee for the processing service cannot be waived under any circumstances and will be added to other filing fees for specific visa categories. If the agency fails to process the petition within 15 days, it will refund the $1,000 to the applicant. In such cases, the agency “will still expeditiously process the case,” according to the INS.

Visas for dependent family members of work visa applicants also will be processed within the 15-day time period for no additional charge. The family member’s application must be filed concurrently with the premium processing petition.

Several visa categories, including H-1B visas, are subject to annual numerical limits. Once INS has reached the limit for a particular visa category, the agency will announce, by publication of a notice in the Federal Register, that no additional premium processing services within the visa category will be processed for that fiscal year. The agency will then process all pending applications, both regular and premium, in the order of receipt. In those circumstances, applicants whose premium processing petitions in that category are then pending will be moved into the pool of normal processing cases, and their $1,000 fee will be returned.