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Premium Processing: Is it Necessary?

Deciding to use premium processing is not always a clear-cut decision for employers, but it is a relatively straight-forward one for the foreign national beneficiary. My employer clients typically weigh the options before agreeing to pay for premium processing. Conversely, my employee clients believe that everyone of their cases requires premium processing.

To put things in a bit of perspective, the United States Immigration System was set up as a pay as you go system. The application fees directly pay the costs for the processing, so that begs the question, why should we “have to” pay more for an application that we already spent money on. The short answer is you do not. However, for the sake of analogy, you can drive on the highway and get stuck in traffic or you can pay a toll to use the express lane. Premium Processing is the Immigration Service’s express lane.

How much is the Premium Processing Fee?

The cost is currently $1225.

Do I need to pay the fee when I file my case or can I upgrade it later?

The Immigration Service will allow you to upgrade your case to premium processing after your case has been filed.

Should my H1B Quota Case be premium processed?

Premium processing a H1B quota case will not increase its chances of being selected for the quota. Also, premium processing will not change the stated start date of October 1st.

Does the employer have to pay the $1225?

No, the employer is not required to pay the premium processing cost. However, many employers will do so in order to secure a candidate who is joining their company.

What does Premium Processing do?

Premium processing will put your petition in the fast line. The case adjudication period will become 10-15 calendar days. And in the event you have a RFE, the RFE review will take 10-15 calendar days once the response is received. Premium processing will also give you access to a special email contact at the Immigration Service and officers who will respond directly to your case questions.

Given the benefits of Premium Processing, shouldn’t every eligible petition be filed using Premium Processing?

Some employers will premium process every application for their employees. This will mean every H1B and every I-140 petition is fast-tracked. I have found that this is the exception to the rule. Most employers are judicious about which cases they premium process. Many employers will use premium processing to port a new H1B employee to their company. Some will split the costs or require that the foreign national pay.

Also, unless there is a compelling reason to premium process an employee’s I-140 petition, such as reaching the six-year H1B limit, then the employer will probably not pay for this cost.

What will happen if every petition is Premium Processed?

We have not yet reached that tipping point. However, if we encounter this scenario, I suspect that the Immigration Service will increase the premium processing fee and increase the 10-15 day processing time line. However, I see a fee increase happening before an overload situation occurring.

If you would like to discuss your immigration situation and the pro’s and con’s of using premium processing, then feel free to contact me.

Thank you for reading.