Is paying an extra $1,410 now a necessary evil? Shouldn’t we be able to get reasonable adjudication time frames without paying this premium? And what about family members, for whom there are no guarantees for expedited processing despite paying the fee?
In May 2019, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) began premium processing for fiscal year (FY) 2020 cap-subject H-1B petitioners requesting a change of status on Form I-129, Petition for an Immigrant Worker. Premium processing service provides expedited processing for certain employment-based petitions and applications, USCIS notes. Without premium processing, H-1B adjudications can take 8 to 12 months. Premium processing is also available for several other visa categories.
USCIS guarantees 15-calendar-day processing to those petitioners or applicants who choose to use premium processing service or USCIS refunds the premium processing fee. If the fee is refunded, the related case “will continue to receive expedited processing,” USCIS says. But not so for derivatives, such as family dependents of nonimmigrants, including spouses: USCIS no longer provides concurrent premium processing of their applications for extension, and their work authorizations are not prioritized either. Processing times can be lengthy. According to reports, on a stakeholder call USCIS blamed new biometrics appointments (required by a new version of the Form I-539, Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status), which can take 3 weeks, for this change since 15 days can no longer be guaranteed.
What would you do if you could immigrate but your spouse and children could not come with you? Not allowing courtesy premium processing for derivatives is hurtful and harmful. We used to respect families. Now we do everything possible to tear them apart. Is this part of a policy to reduce immigration by delays, denials, and now family separations?