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The USCIS has announced various initiatives to improve processing, ease work authorization woes, and finally authorize the expansion of premium processing that was put into law last year. USCIS’s largest issue currently is the crippling backlog of matters pending across the board. USCIS is proposing two steps to tackle this problem. The first is a new internal cycle for time goals for cases to improve processing by October 2023. The second initiative is a significant increase in the budget to tackle all the matters pending before them.
The most exciting initiative that was expected to be announced a couple of months ago is the expansion of premium processing to new petition/application types. This action was authorized under 2021’s emergency Stopgap USCIS Stabilization Act, but the USCIS had to be in a position to actually provide the service – it looks like we are finally within that time frame. USCIS announced the following:
“Premium processing is an expedited adjudication service that is now only available to petitioners filing Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, and certain employment-based immigrant visa petitioners filing Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers. This final rule expands the categories of forms ultimately eligible for premium processing services, including Form I-539, Application to Extend or Change Nonimmigrant Status; Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization; and additional classifications under Form I-140.”
USCIS announced that specifically it was looking at expanding premium processing to EB1 Multinational Executives and Managers as well as EB2 National Interest Waiver petitions. These two key petitions for businesses and researchers have suffered immensely under the current backlog, with EB2 National Interest Waiver petitions taking over 800 days to be processed.
Finally, on the work authorization side, the USCIS is steadily moving toward an expansion of work authorization application processes. This will allow for expanded work authorization for individuals with pending matters and new work authorization applications for certain essential workers.
USCIS service centers are now accepting credit card payments using Form G-1450, Authorization for Credit Card Transactions, for all forms. The goal of this pilot program is to bring USCIS one step closer to accepting digital payments using a credit card at all service centers.