Information contained in this publication is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that the agency will undertake three efforts to increase efficiency and reduce burdens within the legal immigration system.
First, USCIS will work to reduce the agency’s processing backlogs. As part of this effort, USCIS will set new internal cycle time goals to include 2 months for processing non-Premium I-129 petitions, 3 months for I-765 applications and I-539 applications, 6 months for non-Premium I-140 petitions, and 6 months for I-485 applications. The agency seeks to achieve these new goals by the end of FY 2023. The processing time for I-539 applications and I-765 applications for dependent spouses has been over 12 months this past year while the processing time for I-485 applications for employment-based applicants has averaged 12 to 18 months in recent years.
Second, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced a final rule to align the agency’s premium processing regulations with the Emergency Stopgap USCIS Stabilization Act. Based on this rule, USCIS plans to expand the categories for applications eligible for premium processing. Premium processing service provides that the agency will issue a decision or a request for additional evidence within 15 calendar days of filing an application or petition. USCIS has indicated that the expansion will be conducted through a phased approach in FY 2022, with the first phase of expansion to include additional classifications for immigrant petitions under Form I-140, specifically the EB-1 immigrant classification for multinational executives or managers and the EB-2 immigrant classification for members of professions with advanced degrees or exceptional ability seeking national interest waivers. The final rule also expands eligibility for premium processing to include Form I-539 and Form I-765.
Third, USCIS will work to improve access to employment authorization documents (EADs) through a temporary final rule entitled, “Temporary Increase of the Automatic Extension Period of Employment Authorization and Documentation for Certain Renewal Applicants.” USCIS indicates that the agency aims to build on progress made in streamlining EAD processes to help prevent certain individuals (e.g., healthcare workers and childcare workers) from experiencing lapses in work authorization while such applications are pending with USCIS.
For additional information regarding the USCIS announcement, please see the full News Release.