A final rule titled Implementation of the Emergency Stopgap USCIS Stabilization Act was published in the Federal Register at 87 FR 18227 (March 30, 2022). As noted in the rule's preamble:

"The purpose of this rulemaking is to amend the DHS premium processing regulations to codify those fees set by the USCIS Stabilization Act under section 286(u)(3)(A) of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1356(u)(3)(A), and to establish new fees and processing timeframes for new immigration benefit requests, consistent with the conditions and eligibility requirements set forth by section 4102(b)(1) of the USCIS Stabilization Act."

Premium processing is an optional program that allows eligible applicants or petitioners to request faster, more guaranteed processing times for eligible applications and petitions. Premium processing fees are in addition to the standard application or petition filing fees for the underlying benefit request.

The rule goes into effect on May 31, 2022, but the new premium processing categories added by the rule will become available only when USCIS completes necessary system development and specifically announces their availability.

Partial summary of the final rule

This NAFSA page an initial partial summary of the final rule only, and does not constitute legal advice. We will update this page as the rule is analyzed and more information becomes available. Please be sure to consult the Federal Register notice at 87 FR 18227 (March 30, 2022).

Premium Processing Fees

The final rule sets the premium processing fees as follows:

  • $2,500 for most employment-based petitions including H-1B, O (except petitions for R-1 and H-2B, set at $1,500), and many I-140 categories; this is what the current premium processing fee is for those petitions
  • $1,750 for change of status to F-1, F-2, M-1, M-2, J-1 or J-2, and change of status to or extension of stay of E, H, L, O, P, or R dependents
  • $1,500 for certain I-765 EAD applications

Premium processing fees are in addition to the standard application or petition filing fees for the underlying benefit request.

Premium Processing Time Frames

The final rule sets premium processing time frames as follows:

  • 15 calendar days for most apps and petitions including I-129s and I-140s
  • 30 calendar days for change of status to F-1, F-2, M-1, M-2, J-1 or J-2, and change of status to or extension of stay of E, H, L, O, P, or R dependents
  • 30 calendar days for certain I-765 EAD applications
  • 45 calendar days for EB-1 petitions for multinational executives and managers, and EB-2 petitions for advanced degree holders or exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business, when requesting a national interest waiver of the job offer and labor certification requirement

Availability of Premium Processing

Premium processing continues to be available for existing categories eligible for premium processing. The rule makes new premium processing eligibility designations for certain change of status, extension of stay, and employment applications and for certain immigrant petitions, as described below.

Eligibility to request premium processing for the newly added categories, however, depends on USCIS revising its systems to accommodate the new categories. The final rule's effective date language states: "The availability of premium processing for newly designated immigration benefit requests will be announced by USCIS in accordance with DHS premium processing regulations and will become available as stated at that time." Premium processing for these new categories will not be available until USCIS announces the availability.

It is helpful to think of premium processing availability in terms of the benefit being requested, rather than simply the USCIS form number, because some applications and petitions are used for multiple purposes, not all of which are designated for premium processing eligibility. Benefit requests that are not included in the final rule will remain ineligible for premium processing.

Availability of Premium Processing for Employment Authorization

Applications for employment authorization are generally filed on Form I-765. The preamble to the final rule states that "DHS anticipates to begin premium processing Employment Authorization Documents for students applying for Optional Practical Training (OPT) and exchange visitors beginning in FY 2022," but that "additional categories" of Form I-765 will not be ready for premium processing until FY 2025. USCIS will update their How do I request premium processing page to indicate when filers can begin requesting premium processing for those categories. Premium processing for these new categories will not be available until USCIS announces the availability.

Availability of Premium Processing for Change of Status and Extension of Stay

Applications for non-petition-based changes of status and extension of stay are generally filed on Form I-539. The preamble to the final rule states: “While Form I-539 is used for many nonimmigrants categories who may apply for an extension of stay or a change of status, premium processing will now be extended to Form I-539 requestors changing status to F-1, F-2, J-1, J-2, M-1, or M-2 nonimmigrant status or a change of status or extension of stay in E-1, E-2, E-3, H-4, L-2, O-3, P-4, or R-2 nonimmigrant status.” The preamble to the final rule also states that "DHS is planning to begin accepting premium processing requests from F-1, F-2, J-1, J-2, M-1, M-2 classifications beginning in FY 2022. DHS anticipates accepting premium processing requests from E-1, E-2, E-3, L-2, H-4, O-3, P-4, R-2 classifications by FY 2025." USCIS will update their How do I request premium processing page to indicate when filers can begin requesting premium processing for those categories. Premium processing for these new categories will not be available until USCIS announces the availability.

Availability of Premium Processing for EB-2 petitions requesting a national interest waiver of the job offer and labor certification requirement, and EB-1 petitions for multinational executives and managers

The final rule makes new premium processing designations for EB-1 petitions for multinational executives and managers, and EB-2 petitions for advanced degree holders or exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business, when requesting a national interest waiver of the job offer and labor certification requirement. These petitions are generally filed on Form I-140. The preamble to the final rule states that "DHS plans to implement expansion for... both of the new I-140 classifications in FY 2022." USCIS will update their How do I request premium processing page to indicate when filers can begin requesting premium processing for those categories. Premium processing for these new categories will not be available until USCIS announces the availability.

Summary in Table Form

This NAFSA table presents premium processing fees, processing periods, and availability dates for both existing and new premium processing categories.

Underlying Benefit Requested PP is New or Existing USCIS Form Associated with the Benefit PP Processing Fee (in addition to filing fee) PP Processing Time Guarantee
(Calendar Days)
DHS PP Availablity Estimate
Nonimmigrant petition for E-1 (treaty trader), E-2 (investor), or E-3 (Australian specialty occupation worker) Existing I-129 $2,500 15 days Now, currently available
Nonimmigrant petition for H-1B (specialty occupation worker, fashion model, or DOD cooperative research and development project worker) Existing I-129 $2,500 15 days Now, currently available
Nonimmigrant petition for H-2B (non-agricultural worker) Existing I-129 $1,500 15 days Now, currently available
Nonimmigrant petition for H-3 (trainee or special education exchange visitor) Existing I-129 $2,500 15 days Now, currently available
Nonimmigrant petition for L-1 intracompany transferee (L-1A executive or manager capacity or L-1B specialized knowledge professional, or LZ blanket L-1) Existing I-129 $2,500 15 days Now, currently available
Nonimmigrant petition for O-1 (extraordinary ability or achievements in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics), or O-2 (providing essential support services for a principal O-1) Existing I-129 $2,500 15 days Now, currently available
Nonimmigrant petition for P-1 (Internationally recognized athlete or member of an internationally recognized entertainment group), P-1S (Essential Support Alien, highly skilled, who performs support services essential to the successful performance of the principal P-1 alien), P-2 (Artist or entertainer under a reciprocal exchange program), P-2S (Essential support alien, highly skilled, who performs support services essential to the successful performance of the principal P-2 alien), P-3 (Artist or entertainer in a culturally unique program), P-3S (Essential support alien, highly skilled, who performs support services essential to the successful performance of the principal P-3 alien) Existing I-129 $2,500 15 days Now, currently available
Nonimmigrant petition for Q-1 (international cultural exchange alien) Existing I-129 $2,500 15 days Now, currently available
Nonimmigrant petition for R-1 (religious occupation worker), only after there has been a successful USCIS onsite inspection. Existing I-129 $1,500 15 days Now, currently available
Nonimmigrant petition for TN (NAFTA/USMCA professional from Canada or Mexico) Existing I-129 $2,500 15 days Now, currently available
Immigrant petition to classify as EB-1 (extraordinary ability) under INA 203(b)(1)(A) Existing I-140 $2,500 15 days Now, currently available
Immigrant petition to classify as EB-1 (outstanding professor or researcher) under INA 203(b)(1)(B) Existing I-140 $2,500 15 days Now, currently available
Immigrant petition to classify as EB-2 (advanced degree holder or exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business) under INA 203(b)(2)(A), not involving a waiver of the job offer and labor certification requirements under section 203(b)(2)(B) of the INA. Existing I-140 $2,500 15 days Now, currently available
Immigrant petition to classify as EB-3 (skilled workers) under INA 203(b)(3)(A)(i) Existing I-140 $2,500 15 days Now, currently available
Immigrant petition to classify as EB-3 (professionals) under INA 203(b)(3)(A)(ii) Existing I-140 $2,500 15 days Now, currently available
Immigrant petition to classify as EB-3 (other workers) under INA 203(b)(3)(A)(iii) Existing I-140 $2,500 15 days Now, currently available
Immigrant petition to classify as EB-1 (certain multinational executives and managers) under INA 203(b)(1)(C) New I-140 $2,500 45 days Not yet available. Availablity anticipated sometime "in FY 2022"
Immigrant petition to classify as EB-2 (advanced degree holder or exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business) under INA 203(b)(2)(A), involving a waiver of the job offer and labor certification requirements under INA 203(b)(2)(B) New I-140 $2,500 45 days Not yet available. Availablity anticipated sometime "in FY 2022"
Application to change nonimmigrant status to F-1, F-2, J-1, J-2, M-1, M-2) New I-539 $1,750 30 days Not yet available. Availablity anticipated sometime "in FY 2022"
Application to change status to or extend stay as a dependent of an E, H, L, O, P, or R principal nonimmigrant New I-539 $1,750 30 days Not yet available. Availablity anticipated "by FY 2025"
Application for employment authorization document (EAD) for F-1 optional practical training or J-2 work authorization New I-765 $1,500 30 days Not yet available. Availablity anticipated sometime "in FY 2022"
Application for employment authorization document (EAD) for other types of employment authorizations New I-765 $1,500 30 days Not yet available. Availablity anticipated "by FY 2025"