Premium Processing Explained
It’s no secret that the immigration landscape has become a real concern in 2020. Thousands have lost their jobs, and thousands more are struggling as the pandemic continues to strangle small and large businesses alike. Why then, at a time when most of us are unwilling to pay $2 extra for guacamole at Chipotle, would we be willing to pay $1,440 for the optional premium processing service?
Here’s why we think it's worth it: Premium processing allows eligible cases to receive a decision from USCIS within 15 days of filing, unless the government requests additional information/documentation. This is basically warp speed as far as government processing times are concerned! O-1 and EB-1A are eligible for the 15-day premium processing service, and you can see the full list of other case types that are eligible for premium processing here.
It is important to note that, previously, the premium processing timeline was for 15 calendar days. As of October 2, 2020, the premium processing timeline will be for 15 business days -- which means that it will take slightly longer to get the final decision because the new timeline will exclude weekends and holidays. Regardless, a 15 business day timeline is still incredibly fast. As a comparison, “regular processing” of an O-1 (meaning filing without the premium processing service) can take 6 months or longer before you receive a final decision from USCIS.
Premium processing is particularly attractive in the current climate because USCIS has recently indicated that it is experiencing “severe operational costs that will increase backlogs and wait times across the board”. It is likely that that timeline for cases filed with regular processing will further increase in the near future.
While premium processing ensures a quick response, it does not have any impact on your chances of approval. You can file the petition with premium processing without fear that this will impact your chances of success. If you want to receive your O-1 decision as soon as possible, then the investment in the premium processing service could be crucial to plan your future in the United States.