About 6 months ago, USCIS made premium processing available to certain cases where the I-140 beneficiary is in danger of H-ing out. (Our original stories.) USCIS has just announced that it is expanding the I-140 premium processing program. Currently, only beneficiaries who are in H-1B status at the time of the filing of the I-140 may request premium processing. The new program, which becomes effective March 2, 2009, will allow beneficiaries who have reached or are reaching the limitation on their stay in H-1B nonimmigrant status to request premium processing.
I-140 Premium Processing, starting March 2, 2009, will be available to beneficiaries who, as of the date of filing the premium processing request:
- are the beneficiary of a Form I-140 petition filed in a preference category that has been designated for premium processing service;
- have reached the sixth-year statutory limitation of their H-1B stay, or will reach the end of their sixth year of H-1B stay within 60 days of filing;
- are only eligible for a further H-1B extension under section 104(c) of the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-first Century Act of 2000 (AC21) (which allows beneficiaries to extend H-1B in 3-year increments if I-140 is approved and a visa number is not immediately available); and
- are ineligible to extend their H-1B status under section 106(a) of AC21.
Documents Needed by USCIS to Determine Eligibility
USCIS has indicated that certain documents are helpful to determine the premium processing eligibility of a particular I-140 application:
- Copies of all Forms I-94, Arrival/Departure Record and I-797 H-1B or L approval notices that have been issued on his or her behalf;
- A copy of the relating Form I-140 petition receipt notice if the form was previously filed; and,
- A copy of the labor certification approval letter issued by the Department of Labor, if filing under the EB-2 or EB-3 classifications.
By expanding the premium processing program for I-140s, USCIS effectively expands the window in which the premium processing request may be filed. Previously, only holders of valid H-1B status who had 60 days or less remaining on their status were eligible. Now, under the new rule, premium processing can be filed 60 days before the expiration of H-1B status or after it expires.