In the latest Weekly Wright Report:
- USCIS Rolling out Implementation of Premium Processing
By Jan Pederson
USCIS Rolling out Implementation of Premium Processing
Applicants are often afraid to sue the government as they fear the “government” may retaliate against them. In most cases, this is not a concern. USCIS has many lawsuits pending against it and they seldom seek retaliation, particularly in actions for mandamus. However, foreign nationals are cautioned to seek legal advice and file the court action with an attorney. If your EAD auto-extension is nearing an end, the foreign national should consider filing a petition for a writ of mandamus with a United States federal court. The nature of the petition asks that the court order the USCIS to make a decision on the application. Once the petition is filed, the USCIS has sixty days to respond. Quite often the USCIS attorneys will attempt to have the adjudication of the EAD completed during this period, or they will ask counsel for the foreign national to agree to an extended period to respond, and, often the case will be adjudicated during the extension period. Our firm has brought several such suits successfully.
Indeed, it has come to this. In recent years, even the limited ways of inquiring about the status of the case have been largely eliminated. USCIS shuttered the “INFOPASS” system which permitted applicants and attorneys to make appointments at local USCIS field offices for status updates and to resolve bottle necks. This has been all but eliminated except for very limited services. It is unclear whether it will return. USCIS also posts a range of processing times for applications and their “800” Customer Service numbers will not accept inquiries until the outer limit of processing times has been posted. So, for example, the processing time for an I-485 employment based green card application is listed as eighteen months. Learn more here.
Thus, calling the 800 number will be futile before the eighteen-month mark. A formerly robust advocate for the victims of delayed case processing, the USCIS Ombudsman’s Office, which reports directly to the President of the United States, not to the Director of USCIS, has been so inundated with complaints that they have a moratorium on helping with processing delays. Their website lists the types of case they can assist with here.
With the inability of attorneys and applicants to obtain information on the status of a case from USCIS, many turn to their members of Congress to inquire. Increasingly, Congressional staff members report their inability to obtain substantive responses to inquiries. Much depends on the interest and experience of the Congressional staff member. We would suggest this route before suing in federal court.
The obstacles to obtain answers to questions both attorneys and their clients have a right to know about has resulted in transforming United States Attorneys’ offices and federal judges into vessels to unearth information. Thus, the explosion in the filing of mandamus actions. It is often the only way to obtain an unreasonably delayed adjudication. Our firm files mandamus actions on behalf of clients.
It was not always like this. In the prior administration, whose policy was to annihilate both legal and illegal immigration, the communications lines were cut. USCIS is attempting to repair the damage and seek ways to both expedite adjudications while maintaining the integrity of the system. In fact, in the not-too-distant past, attorneys made appointments to discussing pending problem cases at the local USCIS office and had a dedicated email and phone number at each Service Center. Restoring this channel of communication would go far to right the ship.
In furtherance of its mission to reduce backlogs, USCIS is rolling out the types of applications and petitions which can benefit from Premium Processing. The USCIS Premium Processing system will provide an adjudication of eligible petitions within fourteen calendar days of receipt for an additional fee of $2500.00 with money back guarantee. The applications currently eligible for Premium Processing are listed at USCIS.GOV.
As of August 1, 2022, USCIS will expand premium processing to include previously filed EB1C I-140 petitions (multinational executives) received on or before July1, 2021; and EB2 I-140 National Interest Petitions (NIW) and Physician National Interest Petitions (PNIW) in premium processing, provided the I-140 was filed prior to August 1, 2021.
These newly added petitions, in addition to being restricted to prior filings, provide adjudication within 45 days rather than the 15 days for applications previously benefitting from premium processing. For those eligible petitions, Form I-907, with the filing fee and I-140 receipt are filed. Receipt notices are received by the attorney by email.
Jan is one of the leading immigration attorneys in America, having been recognized for her outstanding client representation and advocacy with various awards. She has represented thousands of professionals and their employers in navigating the work permit waters. She is a frequent speaker on immigration topics and shares her knowledge through frequent Webinars, Podcasts, YouTube and FaceBook.