Labor Immigration Law

United States Labor Immigration Law News and Analysis

AAO Articles

Client Success Story: How Premium Processing of an H-1B Petition Helped Us Reverse USCIS Error and Save Our Client Time and Money

One of the main areas of expertise of our firm is handling H-1B petitions for a number of organizations around the United States.   Our readers are aware that the H-1B petition allows the election of a premium processing service which, for an additional government filing fee of $1,225.00, guarantees that the government will provide a response on the petition within 15 calendar days.     Often we are asked by our clients t advise whether premium processing must be chosen or the regular process (which can vary between 2-5  months) is sufficient.

In many cases this determination is easy – premium processing must be used when there is a requirement for fast employment start, especially in change of status cases.   In other cases, however, the decision to use premium processing is not so easy.    We would like to share one of our recent client success stories to highlight some of the additional benefits of using premium processing.

The Client Situation

Our office was contacted by an individual and their employer after they had filed the H-1B petition internally.   The employer sought to petition for H-1B transfer and to extend the beneficiary’s current H-1B status.    Due to a number of reasons, the employer had filed the H-1B transfer petition a few days after the optimal filing time and, as a result, USCIS had issued a request for evidence seeking evidence that the beneficiary had maintained valid status as of the time of filing of the H-1B petition.     Our office was engaged to respond to the RFE and complete the case in the best possible way.

Upgrading to Premium Processing Together with the RFE Response

We worked with the client to prepare the best possible RFE response and we worked to draft a number of legal arguments providing a justification of the delay and asking for USCIS discretion in excusing the late H-1B petition filing by the client.   At the same time, we upgraded the H-1B petition from regular to premium processing.    The rationale for this premium processing upgrade was partially to force the decision faster so that the client can seek alternatives in case the USCIS response was negative.

At the same time, by upgrading to premium processing, as attorneys, we gained a few additional and often overlooked benefits of the premium processing service.    First, we are given a direct access to the USCIS service center, including a direct email and phone contact with immigration officers at the service center.   This kind of access is essential when working with USCIS to address any issues or concerns relating to a case promptly and efficiently.

By way of comparison, USCIS provides a customer service phone line to all regular processing cases but handling case issues, especially complex ones,  through the regular customer service avenue is often very slow and sometimes, especially for more complex situations, even impossible.

Initial USCIS Decision:   Both Petition and Extension of Status Requests Denied

In response to our premium processing upgrade and RFE response, USCIS provided a prompt decision but not the decision our client hoped for.   USCIS determined that because the beneficiary had not maintained valid status at the time the H-1B petition has been filed, they are denying both the H-1B classification petition and the extension of status request.

At that time, our attorneys immediately spotted a USCIS error.   In cases where the beneficiary is not proven to be in valid status at the time of filing of an H-1B petition, USCIS has the option of denying the status component of the H-1B petition.  However, if there are no other outstanding issues regarding the H-1B petition, USCIS should approve the H-1B classification component of the petition.

As a result, our office realized that USCIS should have approved the H-1B petition, with consular notification option, even though the status component of the petition was denied.   We sought to correct this situation for our client.

Case Problem and Error Resolution for Premium Processing Cases

Normally, when USCIS denies an application, the normal route is to file for an I-290B motion to reopen/reconsider or even appeal at the Administrative Appeals Office.   This application must normally be filed within 30 days of the denial decision date, often with a fee, and often has a processing timeline of 4-6 or more months.    This kind of case denial resolution option is often inadequate, especially for H-1B petitions, because of the significant period of uncertainty.    Many employers decide to refile their H-1B petition with a new set of fees even when they feel that the denial is reversible on appeal.

Understanding the challenges of a new refiled petition in terms of time and cost for our client, we sought to convince the service center that they have made a wrong decision.    Immediately upon receipt of the denial notice, our office reached out to the service center’s premium processing unit responsible for the case and we explained in detail the legal reasons as to why their decision to deny the H-1B classification portion of the petition was wrong.     We explained that under relevant guidance a finding that the beneficiary had not maintained valid status at the time of filing should not cause the classification portion of the H-1B petition to be denied.   Instead, in this kind of cases, the H-1B petition should still be approved, albeit with consular processing.

Several days later our office received notification from the service center that a supervisor had reviewed our arguments in the case and had issues a corrected decision — to approve the H-1B petition with consular processing.   As a result, we were able to achieve complete and favorable case resolution for the full benefit of our client within a few days and without any additional cost to our client (this kind of service is normally included in our H-1B petition flat fee arrangement).   We were able to save time and money to our client by not having to use the I-290B motion/appeal case resolution avenue.

Is Premium Processing Worth It In All Situations?

The moral of this story is not to imply that premium processing should be used in all situations – in fact, there are cases where premium processing may impact an H-1B filing strategy negatively.    The moral of the story is that premium processing service should be considered not only when a fast decision is required but also where the case may have complexities or issues.

Certainly we suggest all H-1B petitioners to discuss the pros and cons of premium processing with their attorneys before filing to understand and confirm that a premium vs. regular processing filing option is the best for that particular case.

Conclusion

We hope that this client success story is helpful to our clients and readers to understand the alternative ways to resolve a case where premium processing has been used.    Our hope is that case difficulties would not happen in the first place, but if or when they do, using premium processing service may allow for one extra layer of case resolution options.

Our office has grown as a leading practice in H-1B petitions and other employment-based immigration matters so please do not hesitate to contact us if we can help you in any way.    Please visit us again or subscribe to our free weekly newsletter to ensure that you obtain this and related immigration-related news and announcements

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AAO Processing Times (January 1, 2014)

Our office has established a reputation as one of the leading practices for handling appeals with the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) and we often receive inquiries not only  about the procedural aspects of an AAO appeal but also about the current processing times for AAO cases.    The AAO processing times are published monthly, at the beginning of the month, and we are providing monthly updates and analysis for the benefit of our clients and readers.

About the AAO

The AAO is an appeals office which handles appeals of certain decisions made by USCIS field offices and regional processing centers.  The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requires that all AAO decisions be made available to the public.  As a result, AAO decisions are accessible in reading rooms at USCIS headquarters here in Washington, DC and at field offices.  Also, some (but not all) AAO decisions are available online.

Current AAO Processing Times

USCIS has released the average processing times for cases pending at the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) as of January 1, 2014.  Read the full AAO Processing Times report.

Among the most notable AAO processing times:

  • H-1B appeal is “current” (6  months or less) (no change from our last report as of October 1, 2013);
  • L-1 is current (no change);
  • I-140 EB-1 Extraordinary Ability is current (no change), Multinational Manager or Executive is also current (no change) and EB-1 Outstanding Professor or Researcher category is current (no change);
  • I-140 EB-2 (Advanced Degree) is current (no change) and EB-2 (NIW) is current (no change); and
  • I-140 EB-3 Skilled Worker is current (no change) and EB-3 Other Worker is current on appeal (no change).
Conclusion

The AAO processing times reports have been improving over the past 6-12 months and we are now happy to report and see that all types of cases reviewed by the Administrative Appeals Office are “current” which means that a decision is expected in six months or less from the time arrives at the AAO.   Now that all times are “current” we hope that AAO would continue to maintain them at this level – many of our readers may remember that several months ago some of the AAO processing times were close to three years.

If our office can be of any assistance regarding AAO representation or consultation, please contact us.  Also, please feel free to subscribe to our free weekly newsletter to receive updates and immigration news.

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AAO Processing Times (October 1, 2013)

Our office has established a reputation as one of the leading practices for handling appeals with the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) and we often receive inquiries not only  about the procedural aspects of an AAO appeal but also about the current processing times for AAO cases.    The AAO processing times are published monthly, at the beginning of the month, and we are providing monthly updates and analysis for the benefit of our clients and readers.

About the AAO

The AAO is an appeals office which handles appeals of certain decisions made by USCIS field offices and regional processing centers.  The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requires that all AAO decisions be made available to the public.  As a result, AAO decisions are accessible in reading rooms at USCIS headquarters here in Washington, DC and at field offices.  Also, some (but not all) AAO decisions are available online.

Current AAO Processing Times

USCIS has released the average processing times for cases pending at the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) as of October 1, 2013.  Read the full AAO Processing Times report.

Among the most notable AAO processing times:

  • H-1B appeal is “current” (6  months or less) (no change from our last report as of March 1, 2013);
  • L-1 is current (no change);
  • I-140 EB-1 Extraordinary Ability is current (no change), Multinational Manager or Executive is also current (no change) and EB-1 Outstanding Professor or Researcher category is current (no change);
  • I-140 EB-2 (Advanced Degree) is current (no change) and EB-2 (NIW) is current (no change); and
  • I-140 EB-3 Skilled Worker is now current (improvement of over six months) while EB-3 Other Worker is current on appeal (no change).
Conclusion

The AAO processing times for many of the (H-1B, EB-2, for example) have been improving notably over the past few months and our office has witnesses these greatly improved processing times.   We are very pleased to see that the AAO is now processing as “current” all of its case types, as reported as of October 1.    Now that all times are “current” we hope that AAO would continue to maintain them at this level – many of our readers may remember that several months ago some of the AAO processing times were close to three years.

If our office can be of any assistance regarding AAO representation or consultation, please contact us.  Also, please feel free to subscribe to our free weekly newsletter to receive updates and immigration news.

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AAO Processing Times (March 1, 2013)

Our office has established a reputation as one of the leading practices for handling appeals with the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) and we often receive inquiries not only  about the procedural aspects of an AAO appeal but also about the current processing times for AAO cases.    The AAO processing times are published monthly, at the beginning of the month, and we are providing monthly updates and analysis for the benefit of our clients and readers.

About the AAO

The AAO is an appeals office which handles appeals of certain decisions made by USCIS field offices and regional processing centers.  The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requires that all AAO decisions be made available to the public.  As a result, AAO decisions are accessible in reading rooms at USCIS headquarters here in Washington, DC and at field offices.  Also, some (but not all) AAO decisions are available online.

Current AAO Processing Times

USCIS has released the average processing times for cases pending at the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) as ofMarch  1, 2013.  Read the full AAO Processing Times report.

Among the most notable AAO processing times:

  • H-1B appeal is “current” (6  months or less) (no change from our last report as of February 1, 2013);
  • L-1 is current (no change);
  • I-140 EB-1 Extraordinary Ability is current (no change), Multinational Manager or Executive is also current (improvement with 3+ months since last month) and EB-1 Outstanding Professor or Researcher category is current (no change);
  • I-140 EB-2 (Advanced Degree) is current (no change) and EB-2 (NIW) is current (no change); and
  • I-140 EB-3 Skilled Worker takes 12 months (improvement of two months) while EB-3 Other Worker is current on appeal (no change).
Conclusion

The AAO processing times for many of the (H-1B, EB-2, for example) have been improving notably over the past few months and our office has witnesses these greatly improved processing times.   We are very pleased to see that the AAO is now processing I-140 EB-2 cases in as little as six months and EB-3 cases in as little as 12 months (in comparison to close to three years recently).   We notice that AAO processing times improve  across many of the other types of cases.     Now that most AAO cases are “current”, we hope that AAO will be able to keep these processing times consistently going forward.

If our office can be of any assistance regarding AAO representation or consultation, please contact us.  Also, please feel free to subscribe to our free weekly newsletter to receive updates and immigration news.

No comments

AAO Processing Times (February 1, 2013)

Our office has established a reputation as one of the leading practices for handling appeals with the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) and we often receive inquiries not only  about the procedural aspects of an AAO appeal but also about the current processing times for AAO cases.    The AAO processing times are published monthly, at the beginning of the month, and we are providing monthly updates and analysis for the benefit of our clients and readers.

About the AAO

The AAO is an appeals office which handles appeals of certain decisions made by USCIS field offices and regional processing centers.  The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requires that all AAO decisions be made available to the public.  As a result, AAO decisions are accessible in reading rooms at USCIS headquarters here in Washington, DC and at field offices.  Also, some (but not all) AAO decisions are available online.

Current AAO Processing Times

USCIS has released the average processing times for cases pending at the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) as of February 1, 2013.  Read the full AAO Processing Times report.

Among the most notable AAO processing times:

  • H-1B appeal is “current” (6  months or less) (no change from our last report as of January 1, 2013);
  • L-1 is current (no change);
  • I-140 EB-1 Extraordinary Ability is current (no change), Multinational Manager or Executive takes 9 months (no change) and EB-1 Outstanding Professor or Researcher category is current (no change);
  • I-140 EB-2 (Advanced Degree) is current (improvement of one month) while EB-2 (NIW) is current (no change); and
  • I-140 EB-3 Skilled Worker takes 14 months (improvement of five months) while EB-3 Other Worker is current on appeal (no change).
Conclusion

The AAO processing times for many of the (H-1B, EB-2, for example) have been improving notably over the past few months.   We are very pleased to see that the AAO is now processing I-140 EB-2 cases in as little as six months and EB-3 cases in as little as 14 months (in comparison to close to three years recently).   We notice that AAO processing times improve  across many of the other types of cases.     We hope that the notable trend of improvement in the processing times in EB-2 appeals would continue and spread to other types of cases as well, specifically EB-3, where the current wait is still around a little over one year.

If our office can be of any assistance regarding AAO representation or consultation, please contact us.  Also, please feel free to subscribe to our free weekly newsletter to receive updates and immigration news.

No comments

AAO Processing Times (January 1, 2013)

Our office has established a reputation as one of the leading practices for handling appeals with the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) and we often receive inquiries not only  about the procedural aspects of an AAO appeal but also about the current processing times for AAO cases.    The AAO processing times are published monthly, at the beginning of the month, and we are providing monthly updates and analysis for the benefit of our clients and readers.

About the AAO

The AAO is an appeals office which handles appeals of certain decisions made by USCIS field offices and regional processing centers.  The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requires that all AAO decisions be made available to the public.  As a result, AAO decisions are accessible in reading rooms at USCIS headquarters here in Washington, DC and at field offices.  Also, some (but not all) AAO decisions are available online.

Current AAO Processing Times

USCIS has released the average processing times for cases pending at the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) as of January 1, 2013.  Read the full AAO Processing Times report.

Among the most notable AAO processing times:

  • H-1B appeal is “current” (6  months or less) (a notable decrease, or improvement, of three months, compared to our last report as of November 1, 2012);
  • L-1 is current (improvement of four months);
  • I-140 EB-1 Extraordinary Ability is current, Multinational Manager or Executive takes 9 months (improvement of one month) while EB-1 Outstanding Professor or Researcher category is current;
  • I-140 EB-2 (Advanced Degree) is at 7 months (increase of one month) while EB-2 (NIW) is current (no change); and
  • I-140 EB-3 Skilled Worker takes 19 months (improvement of five months) while EB-3 Other Worker is current on appeal (no change).
Conclusion

The AAO processing times for many of the (H-1B, EB-2, for example) have been improving notably over the past few months.   We are very pleased to see that the AAO is now processing I-140 EB-2 cases in as little as six or seven months (in comparison to close to three years recently).   We notice that AAO processing times improve  across many of the other types of cases.     We hope that the notable trend of improvement in the processing times in EB-2 appeals would continue and spread to other types of cases as well, specifically EB-3, where the current wait is still around a little less than 2 years.

If our office can be of any assistance regarding AAO representation or consultation, please contact us.  Also, please feel free to subscribe to our free weekly newsletter to receive updates and immigration news.

No comments

AAO Processing Times (November 1, 2012)

Our office has established a reputation as one of the leading practices for handling appeals with the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) and we often receive inquiries not only  about the procedural aspects of an AAO appeal but also about the current processing times for AAO cases.    The AAO processing times are published monthly, at the beginning of the month, and we are providing monthly updates and analysis for the benefit of our clients and readers.

About the AAO

The AAO is an appeals office which handles appeals of certain decisions made by USCIS field offices and regional processing centers.  The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requires that all AAO decisions be made available to the public.  As a result, AAO decisions are accessible in reading rooms at USCIS headquarters here in Washington, DC and at field offices.  Also, some (but not all) AAO decisions are available online.

Current AAO Processing Times

USCIS has released the average processing times for cases pending at the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) as of November 1, 2012.  Read the full AAO Processing Times report.

Among the most notable AAO processing times:

  • H-1B appeal takes 9 months (a notable decrease, or improvement, of three months, compared to our last report as of October 1, 2012);
  • L-1 appeal takes 10 months (improvement of three months);
  • I-140 EB-1 Extraordinary Ability is current (less than six months), Multinational Manager or Executive takes 10 months (improvement of three months) while EB-1 Outstanding Professor or Researcher category is current;
  • I-140 EB-2 (Advanced Degree) is current (or six months or less, improvement of one month) while EB-2 (NIW) is current (no change); and
  • I-140 EB-3 Skilled Worker takes 24 months (improvement of five months) while EB-3 Other Worker is current (6 months or less) on appeal (no change).
Conclusion

The AAO processing times for many of the (H-1B, EB-2, for example) have been improving notably over the past few months.   We are very pleased to see that the AAO is now processing I-140 EB-2 cases in as little as six months (in comparison to close to three years recently).   We notice that AAO processing times improve  across many of the other types of cases.     We hope that the notable trend of improvement in the processing times in EB-2 appeals would continue and spread to other types of cases as well, specifically EB-3, where the current wait is still around 2 years.

If our office can be of any assistance regarding AAO representation or consultation, please contact us.  Also, please feel free to subscribe to our free weekly newsletter to receive updates and immigration news.

No comments

AAO Processing Times (October 1, 2012)

Our office has established a reputation as one of the leading practices for handling appeals with the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) and we often receive inquiries not only  about the procedural aspects of an AAO appeal but also about the current processing times for AAO cases.    The AAO processing times are published monthly, at the beginning of the month, and we are providing monthly updates and analysis for the benefit of our clients and readers.

About the AAO

The AAO is an appeals office which handles appeals of certain decisions made by USCIS field offices and regional processing centers.  The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requires that all AAO decisions be made available to the public.  As a result, AAO decisions are accessible in reading rooms at USCIS headquarters here in Washington, DC and at field offices.  Also, some (but not all) AAO decisions are available online.

Current AAO Processing Times

USCIS has released the average processing times for cases pending at the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) as of October 1, 2012.  Read the full AAO Processing Times report.

Among the most notable AAO processing times:

  • H-1B appeal takes 12 months (a notable decrease, or improvement, of three months, compared to our last report as of September 1, 2012);
  • L-1 appeal takes 13 months (improvement of four months);
  • I-140 EB-1 Extraordinary Ability is current (less than six months), Multinational Manager or Executive takes 13 months (improvement of three months) while EB-1 Outstanding Professor or Researcher category is current;
  • I-140 EB-2 (Advanced Degree) takes 7 months (improvement of one month) while EB-2 (NIW) is current (no change); and
  • I-140 EB-3 Skilled Worker takes 29 months (improvement of two months) while EB-3 Other Worker is current (6 months or less) on appeal (no change).
Conclusion
The AAO processing times for many of the (EB-2, for example) have been improving notably over the past few months.   We are very pleased to see that the AAO is now processing I-140 EB-2 cases in a little over a year (in comparison to close to three years recently).   We notice that AAO processing times remain steady across many of the other types of cases.     We hope that the notable trend of improvement in the processing times in EB-2 appeals would continue and spread to other types of cases as well, specifically EB-3, where the current wait is around 3 years.

If our office can be of any assistance regarding AAO representation or consultation, please contact us.  Also, please feel free to subscribe to our free weekly newsletter to receive updates and immigration news.

No comments

AAO Processing Times (September 1, 2012)

Our office has established a reputation as one of the leading practices for handling appeals with the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) and we often receive inquiries not only  about the procedural aspects of an AAO appeal but also about the current processing times for AAO cases.    The AAO processing times are published monthly, at the beginning of the month, and we are providing monthly updates and analysis for the benefit of our clients and readers.

About the AAO

The AAO is an appeals office which handles appeals of certain decisions made by USCIS field offices and regional processing centers.  The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requires that all AAO decisions be made available to the public.  As a result, AAO decisions are accessible in reading rooms at USCIS headquarters here in Washington, DC and at field offices.  Also, some (but not all) AAO decisions are available online.

Current AAO Processing Times

USCIS has released the average processing times for cases pending at the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) as of September  1, 2012.  Read the full AAO Processing Times report.

Among the most notable AAO processing times:

  • H-1B appeal takes 15 months (decrease, or improvement, of two month compared to our last report as of July 1, 2012);
  • L-1 appeal takes 17 months (improvement of five months);
  • I-140 EB-1 Extraordinary Ability is current (less than six months, an improvement of four months), Multinational Manager or Executive takes 16 months (improvement of two months) while EB-1 Outstanding Professor or Researcher category is current;
  • I-140 EB-2 (Advanced Degree) takes 8 months (a significant improvement of four months) while EB-2 (NIW) is current (no change); and
  • I-140 EB-3 Skilled Worker takes 31 months (improvement of four months) while EB-3 Other Worker is current (6 months or less) on appeal (no change).
Conclusion
The AAO processing times for at least some of the categories (EB-2, for example) have been improving notably over the past few months.   We are very pleased to see that the AAO is now processing I-140 EB-2 cases in less than a year (in comparison to close to three years recently).   We notice that AAO processing times remain steady across many of the other types of cases.     We hope that the notable trend of improvement in the processing times in EB-2 appeals would continue and spread to other types of cases as well, specifically EB-3, where the current wait is around 3 years.

If our office can be of any assistance regarding AAO representation or consultation, please contact us.  Also, please feel free to subscribe to our free weekly newsletter to receive updates and immigration news.

No comments

AAO Processing Times (July 1, 2012)

Our office has established a reputation as one of the leading practices for handling appeals with the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) and we often receive inquiries not only  about the procedural aspects of an AAO appeal but also about the current processing times for AAO cases.    The AAO processing times are published monthly, at the beginning of the month, and we are providing monthly updates and analysis for the benefit of our clients and readers.

About the AAO

The AAO is an appeals office which handles appeals of certain decisions made by USCIS field offices and regional processing centers.  The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requires that all AAO decisions be made available to the public.  As a result, AAO decisions are accessible in reading rooms at USCIS headquarters here in Washington, DC and at field offices.  Also, some (but not all) AAO decisions are available online.

Current AAO Processing Times

USCIS has released the average processing times for cases pending at the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) as of July 1, 2012.  Read the full AAO Processing Times report.

Among the most notable AAO processing times:

  • H-1B appeal takes 17 months (decrease, or improvement, of one month compared to our last report as of May 1, 2012);
  • L-1 appeal takes 22 months (no change);
  • I-140 EB-1 Extraordinary Ability takes 10 months (improvement of four month), Multinational Manager or Executive takes 18 months (improvement of three months) while EB-1 Outstanding Professor or Researcher category is current (defined as 6 months or less);
  • I-140 EB-2 (Advanced Degree) takes 12 months (a significant improvement by 9 months) while EB-2 (NIW) is current (no change); and
  • I-140 EB-3 Skilled Worker takes 35 months (increase by 1 month) while EB-3 Other Worker is current (6 months or less) on appeal (no change).
Conclusion
The AAO processing times for at least some of the categories (EB-2, for example) have been improving notably over the past few months.   We are very pleased to see that the AAO is now processing I-140 EB-2 cases in one year (in comparison to close to three years recently).   We notice that AAO processing times remain steady across many of the other types of cases.     We hope that the notable trend of improvement in the processing times in EB-2 appeals would continue and spread to other types of cases as well, specifically EB-3, where the current wait is around 3 years.

If our office can be of any assistance regarding AAO representation or consultation, please contact us.  Also, please feel free to subscribe to our free weekly newsletter to receive updates and immigration news.

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