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USCIS Announces Efforts to Increase Efficiency

On March 29, 2022, USCIS announced three agency efforts aimed at increasing efficiency, decreasing burdens to the legal immigration system, and expanding flexibility of immigration benefits to certain individuals.

First, USCIS announced that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released a final rule that aligns existing Premium Processing regulations with the Emergency Stopgap USCIS Stabilization Act. Premium Processing is an optional program that guarantees, for an additional filing fee, expedited review of certain petitions and applications filed with USCIS. Although the effective date of this final rule is May 31, 2022, USCIS will need additional time thereafter to update its system development in anticipation of the phased-in Premium Processing categories.

Specifically, the final rule gradually expands the eventual availability of Premium Processing to the following categories, possibly in FY 2022, including but not limited to:

  • Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization: $1,500 filing fee and 30 calendar day timeframe. Please note that according to the preamble of the final rule, only certain I-765 applicants will be eligible for Premium Processing beginning in FY 2022, including international students applying for Optional Practical Training (OPT) and exchange visitors. Additional I-765 categories may not be eligible for Premium Processing until subsequent years.
  • Form I-539, Application Requesting Change-of-Status to F-1, F-2, J-1, J-2:  $1,750 filing fee and 30 calendar day timeframe. The expansion to other change-of-status or extension-of-stay categories such as H-4, O-3, etc. and other dependent categories may not be eligible for Premium Processing until subsequent years.
  • Form I-140, EB-2 National Interest Waiver petitions: $2,500 filing fee and 45 calendar day timeframe.

Second, in an effort to reduce processing backlogs, USCIS announced it is immediately updating its internal cycle time goals, with the overall objective being to adjudicate pending petitions and applications more quickly. By increasing capacity, improving technology, and expanding staffing, USCIS hopes to achieve these goals by the end of federal fiscal year 2023.

Lastly, the March 29, 2022, USCIS announcement reiterated the USCIS plans to continue making progress towards a temporary final rule, “Temporary Increase of the Automatic Extension Period of Employment Authorization and Documentation for Certain Renewal Applicants”, with the objective being to continue to expand the eligibility of pending Employment Authorization Document (EAD) applicants who will not lose their work authorization status while their EAD renewal applications are pending with USCIS.

Please note that this update is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. More information can be found on the USCIS website and specific questions should be directed to a personal immigration attorney.

If you have questions or comments about this announcement, please reach out to the Office of International Services at or +1 (312) 996-3121. Our regular office hours are Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.